Promoting responsibility in children is something nearly every parent
wants, yet few parents have a thorough understanding of how to achieve
it. The fact is that young people have choices-both conscious and
unconscious. These choices are a significant factor in determining their
lives. The sooner young people become aware of this, the earlier they
will start to make responsible choices.
Young people also become more responsible when they learn that
regardless of a situation that cannot be changed, regardless of a
stimulation that causes emotions to erupt, and regardless of an urge or
impulse, they always have the power and freedom to chose how they
respond. The ability is referred to as choice-response thinking.
Teaching young people about choice-response thinking-that they need
not be victims-may be one of the most valuable thinking patterns we can
Choice empowers. Choice, control, and responsibility are so woven
together that one significantly affects the others. Make a choice, and
control is enhanced. Fail to choose, and control is diminished. The more
responsibility that is chosen, the more control follows. Deny
responsibility, and control is given up.
We become more responsible by being aware of the choices we make.
This realization plays an important role in how people direct their
lives. As Harry Potter’s mentor, Albus Dumbledore, advised the youth,
“It is not our abilities that say who we are. It is our choices.” It’s
not only the circumstances in which we find ourselves-but also our
choices that make us who we are. Because we always have the freedom to
choose, we are therefore responsible for our own behaviors. Teaching
young people that they choose their own behaviors helps them become
conscious that no one else chooses their behaviors for them.
The critical difference between optimistic thinking and pessimistic
thinking has to do with the perception of control which, in turn,
depends upon perception of choice. The optimist believes choices are
available; the pessimist doesn’t.
Young people can be taught to self-talk in enabling and self-powering
ways. Here are a few thinking starters that help in making responsible
My choice is…;
I made this choice because…;
The results of my choice will be…;
If these thoughts were to be written, carried on a small card, and
referred to each day for twenty-one (21) days, they would become a
habit. No extra effort would be required. It would become a natural way
Dr. Marvin Marshall is an American educator, writer, and lecturer.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not
received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material
connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I
am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”