Kristen Welch’s blog post may be five years old, but her words remain indelibly written on the brains of moms and dads who turned to her website out of desperation because their youngsters were refusing to take responsibility for anything that came along.

This wise mom’s warning? When we give our kids everything they want, parents are complicit in raising irresponsible children. In fact, society has even given this syndrome a name: affluenza.

It’s a syndrome born of parents so fearful that their children won’t be successful, they’re willing to give them everything and anything, frequently because “everyone has it” and “if I don’t get it, I’m going to be bullied or outcast or worse.”

We see this at JAMS a lot!

Students are often not prepared for class, and they prefer to blame others for not having their own homework done. We try to teach them that their success is dependent on their effort.

It’s a hard concept to teach in class, especially if parents are not teaching the same concept at home.

How have we come to this place?

Ask courts, child psychologists, and mental health professionals dealing with a growing universe of kids as young as 6 who have become impetuous, demanding little souls because they are deemed too little to be given consequences for inappropriate behaviors.

Welch’s proof is undeniable: Her post about the warning signs of entitlement was shared around 800,000 times. How can I teach my child to take responsibility, you ask? You’re already doing it by reading this article.

Today’s privileged children are too often raised to think they can do no wrong and as a result, many become incapable of functioning because their self-esteem is simply nonexistent.

Disappointment? They can’t describe it. And when society does not sanction the behaviors that parents tolerate for myriad reasons, a lack of coping skills frequently turns to extreme reactions that run the gamut from addiction and depression to a rising suicide rate among teens.

Why do parents give in so easily?

The list is long, but these are the most commonly cited reasons given by moms and dads:

  1. It’s easier than fighting. Overwhelmed parents often adopt this mantra.
  2. You’re fearful your children won’t be accepted; especially if he or she is “different.”
  3. Parents too often compensate for their own lack of love; possessions; attention.
  4. It can be hard to recognize that being too permissive now can dramatically impact a child’s future attitudes.
  5. Insecure parents fret, “What if my child stops loving me if I say no?”
  6. How complicit are parents who buy things they don’t need, make judgements about other people and are convinced that the world is wrong, “but I’m right”? Very!

Of course you can raise a responsible child!

You don’t have to be a history fan to appreciate the famous Benjamin Franklin quote, “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

In fact, you may not believe how simple it is to make Herculean changes simply by adopting the word “No” and using it whenever a situation calls for it.

It’s hard at first.

Expect drama: stomping, door slamming, crying, anger. We liken it to getting off caffeine: Keep cutting back until you’ve eliminated it from your daily ritual. In other words, if you start out by saying “no” once a day and then expand your “no” repertoire, it does get easier.
As a master of “No,” your confidence will grow and once you feel comfortable with it, you can add to your wise-parent repertoire by telling your kids why you said no.

Whether it’s a toy they saw on a commercial or the smartphone a peer brought to school that has your child suffering a bad case of envy, “no” pairs as nicely with a logical explanation, just as does a good wine with a lobster tail.

Ready to step up to the big leagues?

You’ve mastered “no” and offered excellent reasons for your response.

Now it’s time to work on the hardest lessons: Helping your child climb out if she falls into the “It’s not my fault” rabbit hole.

Finger-pointing and blame placing are easier to “cure” early. By doing so, you’re giving your child a gift.

12 tips for raising a responsible child

  1. Understand the true meaning of the word responsibility so you convey its essence properly. Touch points include being dependable, following through on commitments and promises, and being accountable.
  2. Don’t confuse responsibility with obedience. Children need to accept ownership for deeds rather than undertaking a chore or task because they’re fearful they won’t be loved if they fail to do it or (worse) do it badly and risk parental criticism.
  3. Maintain a positive environment. Moms and dads seeking to achieve their own “Peaceable Kingdom” could mean everyone walks around on eggshells. Let kids be their own advocates, even if it means healthy disagreements ensue.
  4. Seek balance when involving yourself in your child’s commitments and tasks so you don’t morph into the quintessential “helicopter parent.” Kids need guidance and support, but they don’t need interference nor a 24/7 cheering squad. Mastering the art of stepping in at the right time isn’t easy, but you can do it.
  5. Let go to build character. When parents try to protect their children, their actions may morph from support to control. Kids need to learn to think for themselves and accept bad outcomes to develop good character. Raising an accountable child is a gift to the entire world.
  6. It’s OK to be both a good cop and a bad cop. Police TV shows notwithstanding, it’s a delicate dance to figure out whether you’re being too permissive or too strict. There are times when both are appropriate, but the secret is communicating unconditional love no matter which hat you’re wearing.
  7. Don’t dismiss your child’s wisdom and creativity. When you show your kids that there are times when they teach you a thing or two, you hand them power that allows them the freedom to take responsibility for actions.
  8. Develop a talent for helping children structure their lives by passing on your values, setting limits and boundaries, and disciplining with love. One of the best lessons learned has to do with the abolition of rewarding impulsive behaviors. Substitute a healthy dose of delayed gratification.
  9. Make rules, not demands. Who doesn’t like rules? Guidelines add structure, offer the security of knowing what’s expected and when rules are broken, following through with consequences shows children that you mean what you say. They won’t like it at first. That’s OK. You’re building responsible souls.
  10. Be present for your kids. How often have you looked around the room to find all family members staring at a smartphone screen without saying a word? Yes, your communications are important. But one-on-one time with kids trumps all. Taking time away from your device sends a message. Don’t miss the opportunity.
  11. Banish the blame game. Children can’t grow, develop responsibility, and enjoy high self-esteem if they develop a habit of blaming others for failures that are in fact their own doing. Kids emulate people they love and if you lead by example and don’t fall back on excuses or rely upon blaming and shaming, you’re doing the job right.
  12. Show and tell. You need to show and tell your youngsters that hard work pays off. Whether you enlist their help around the house, take them on volunteer missions that teach compassion or let them in on why you work so many hours, you teach lessons in responsibility that will do you proud throughout their lives.

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Nothing fuels the fire for math than discovering you can be a math genius! If you’re not sure Abacus will help your child, sign up for a free preview of our online Abacus Classes – there’s no obligation to register! Come meet with us, watch some kids in action, calculating at the speed of light! We guarantee you will have fun watching these little geniuses.




JAMS is proud to be the only Abacus math school in Portland and in the State of Oregon certified by the League of Soroban of Americas. Since 2001, we have dedicated to Abacus & Anzan instruction and to building a strong foundation of Mental Mathematics along with lifelong skills. JAMS empowers children to achieve academic success, so they will grow in areas that go well beyond the classroom. JAMS parents can expect their child to improve in 5 different areas: concentration, discipline, problem-solving, time management, and confidence. This is the teaching approach at JAMS since opening its doors.