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  • Writer's picturerabbitmum

Fostering Responsibility and Independence in Children’s Lives

Updated: May 31, 2018

Consistency produces environment of predictability that creates stability in the home.

Our goal is to have a healthy, confident, independent, and assertive kid

I attended a talk by Dr. Jeff Devens, Ph.D. School Psychologist. It was a great session and I learned a lot. Find below the recap.

We as parents are responsible for training – establish rules / boundaries

Seeing that our children live responsibly with these boundaries

Make them being able to make choice in life – don’t let the world decide on them.

Parenting Continuum


Enforcing strict obedience

May work and needed for little kids, but won’t work for older kids.

This type of parenting produces adolescents with 2 Facebook account and/or those who leave the house with one type of clothing and change outside


Permissive Indulgent / Permissive Indifferent

Lenient, not demanding


Responsive to child’s emotional needs

Set boundaries and be consistent

For parents: The way to get to your kids ---> through their heart

For kids: The way to get to your parents ---> through their head

Where are you on this continuum? Where is your partner? Are you both on the same “parenting page” with respect to rules and consequences in your home?

3 Areas of Responsibility for Children


Understand your child’s developmental milestone

Learn executive skills. There are 4 important skills:

  1. Organization – are you teaching your kids to be organized? Are we helping them to be organized?

  2. Time management – our kids need to face the reality of time constraint vs getting things done

  3. Task initiation

  4. Emotional regulation – learning to regulate emotion

Technology – mobile phone (smart phone) not only change the way of learning things but also change / affect parenting and relationships. Set healthy boundaries around mobile phone: self-regulate and self-manage. Good habit needs to start now – easier to start while they are still young. By the time kids go to high school, change of pattern in behaviour will need about 20 weeks to happen. Some example about rules around technology:

  • Not allowed to use smart phone / computer in the room (privately)

  • At certain time each day, laptop is off (for example: 8 pm). This helps not only to set rules / boundaries on technology but also to train them on time management – they need to be able to focus doing what needs to be done first (homework).

  • No Youtube during weekdays – only weekends.

  • No smartphone at the dinner table.

Smart phone ---> there’s too much temptation. The speaker’s rule (for his own kids) is no smart phone until high school. Too much phone usage / addiction is not a function of bad kid, it’s also not a function of poor parenting but simply the industry (games developer, software developer etc) make it so well to make kids stay with their phone as long as possible.

Can vs Should – your kids can do many activities every day, but should they? Need to find a good balance. Not all moment need to be occupied with activities. Everyone needs time to self-reflect – do nothing.

The need for play


  • Responding to parents

  • Being kind even when siblings aren’t

  • Sharing stuff

  • Personal space

  • Developing a heart of gratitude. The importance of expressing gratitude in words vs thoughts only.


  • Cleaning room

  • Walking the dog

  • Feeding the cat

  • Washing the car

  • Helping set the table

  • Cleaning up after dinner

  • Taking out the trash

  • Putting away the groceries

  • Helping with meals

4 Rules about Rules

1) Rules should be as few as possible

2) Rules should be as clear as possible

3) Rules should be as fair as possible

4) The buck stops here!

Rules without consequences are less then worthless. They are confusing and dangerous!

4 Guidelines for Formulating and Enforcing Consequences

1) Consequences should be determined before a violation

2) Consequences should be administered consistently

3) Consequences should be administered privately

4) Consequences should be administered with LOVE. The goal is to resolve issue AND restore relationship.

Recognizing ways kids try to avoid consequences

Badgering – Intimidation – Threat – Martyrdom – Buttering Up – Physical Tactics

Establishing Areas of Responsibility – Formulate your rules and consequences in response to these two questions:

1) What are the important issues in helping your child towards increasing independence?

2) What dangers need to be avoided and what responsibilities need to be learned?

What causes children to rebel is not parental assertion of authority but the arbitrary use of parental power, with little explanation

When both parents work full time or travel quite a lot and hire a helper to help the family, the helper is actually the 3rd parent thus need to have the same style and be consistent about the rules and consequences.

Consistency ---> Predictability ---> Stability

For kids younger than 9 years old, routine / scheduling is VERY important. As they get older they can make more choice.

Our kids need to realize that life is NOT fair and there will be trouble in life. Our job as parents is to make them ready for that.

Our goal is to have a healthy, confident, independent, and assertive kid.

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