There’s so much you need to teach your children to help them to be successful adults. One of the most important things is to teach your children to be responsible.

You can see problems with irresponsible people all around. The parents who don’t do anything about their children’s misbehavior. The person who doesn’t care about how what they do impacts others. Criminals. I won’t even get into certain politicians.

Responsibility is not the easiest of skills to teach. It takes years.

There are several aspects of responsibility. It means learning to be honest. Showing compassion for others. Standing up for principles. Self control and self respect.

Compassion and respect are taught by helping your children to understand how others are feeling. Talk to them about why other people feel as they do, and compare that to how your child would feel in the same situation.

Honesty is another facet of responsibility. It can be hard for children to learn to admit when they’ve made a mistake. As a parent, it’s up to you to help them understand why they must be honest.

The ability to stand up for your principles is particularly vital by the time children reach their teen years. There are so many temptations out there, and if your children have the courage to stand up for what they know is right, they can avoid many of the hazards of the teenage years.

Self control and self respect are also vital. You want your child to have the control to not blow up every time he or she gets mad or frustrated, and the self respect to know that even doing your best doesn’t always guarantee you’ll be the best at everything you do, yet not feeling too badly about appropriate failures. It also means there’s no need to put down those who don’t do as well.

To teach your child responsibility, you must show them that you act responsibly, as well as telling them how they can be responsible. Children learn from what they see, so if you aren’t honest they will have little motivation to be honest. If you aren’t compassionate, neither will they be compassionate.

You can also choose stories that discuss responsible behavior and the consequences of being irresponsible. Kids learn a lot from books, and it isn’t always the lesson you would have them learn.

Teaching responsibility isn’t about lecturing. It’s about showing responsibility as a part of everyday life. You don’t have to be utterly serious about life to be responsible. You can have fun and play as you teach.