Responsibility is a great stress reliever for parents, teachers, and employers among others. Responsibility is that character trait in children, teens, and adults that makes them do every job to the best of their ability, even when nobody is around to notice.

Character building in children shapes the heart of this article, but the truths apply to every age. Responsibility, with accountability, is a great means of reducing stress because it takes the worry out of knowing what the job entails, attaches a time limit that motivates toward the goal, and rewards with a sense of satisfaction at the finish line.

Responsibility can be taught at any age. The teaching can begin in preschool and continue into adulthood. You can instill responsibility into untaught teenagers. Even employees can be taught the rudiments of responsibility.

Chores provide an excellent way to instill responsibility.

Chores in the home and at school, coupled with accountability for their completion, plant and nurture the character trait of responsibility in young people, no matter their age.

“Chores?!” You can almost hear young people explode at the very thought, but chores do not have to resemble burdens. Chores can act as stress relievers – safety valves. Chores can help children and teens let down.

Character education teachers and parents, picture this.

You face 5-to-8-year-old children. You want to teach them responsibility, and you have lesson plans that will do that. You want something more, however. You want your character education to continue through the day – every day. You also want character education to produce a better living environment. What do you do?

You assign responsibility chores. You may be doing that already without realizing it. Joshua takes responsibility for feeding the hamsters this week. Megan’s responsibility keeps the floor litter-free. Wanda – wait a minute.

You realize that Wanda’s sole occupation in the classroom is production of a toxic atmosphere. Wanda whines a lot, and Wanda accepts no chore. Could the two be related? She could volunteer for a chore, but she never does. Watching Wanda, you realize that she gravitates toward the collection of stuffed animals in the corner at every opportunity. That gives you an idea for a responsibility – a chore that will help Wanda stop whining and build character.

You go to Wanda’s desk and tell her that she just became the “Zoo Keeper”. No one has done this chore before. Wanda frowns, and then demands an explanation. “Well,” you tell her, “I am making you responsible for the stuffed animal corner. That is your zoo.”

Build character faster by involving children.

Ask Wanda to give her input. “Oh,” she might say, “I can wake up the animals in the morning, and clean the zoo. When an animal gets out, I can put it back. I can move the animals around so they see different things. At the end of each day, I can make sure all the animals are ready to sleep.” You get children to take responsibility for a chore by letting them give input.

Responsibility grows, too, when children choose from among three or more chores. Many character-building teachers maintain lists of classroom tasks, asking for new volunteers each week. Children respond well to involvement with responsibility charts, too. Let them create the charts, mark them, or add stickers.

Watch stress levels fall.  

Wanda, our example, will soon take ownership of her chore. She will not realize what you do, that the predictability of it helps Wanda relax. When she enters the room, she knows what to expect. She will go to her “zoo” and “wake up” the animals, enjoying the start of a new day. Throughout the day, stressful moments will be relieved by the soothing repetition of watching over the toys. At the end of the day, her responsibility will prepare Wanda for departure from the classroom.

Oh, and because the chore reduces stress for Wanda, it reduces stress for everyone around Wanda. The living environment becomes healthier and happier.

Character traits all help life run more smoothly, and responsibility ranks high on the list of stress-reducers.