The road to being a great man starts with being a good boy! The journey to responsibility starts with small steps early in life. And that journey often begins with three great core principles. Dependability, accountability, and reliability. All three are pretty much the same thing when you break them down and they all come back to the same message. Do what you say you will, when you say you will, and how you say you will. Three basics that can solve almost any situation that life throws at you. So, with that in mind, here are three very easy ways to teach children about reliability. In life, with their friends, with their family, and with themselves.
3 – WHATEVER YOU DO, DO IT WELL
You know the saying… “Anything worth doing, it’s worth doing well,” Teach kids to do their best work no matter if the task is important or mindless. Doing anything half way – from school work to dishes to hobbies, is never a good habit to fall into. Teach kids to take pride in work, be it little or big. That doesn’t mean that everything needs to be perfect. Absolutely don”t fall into the perfect trap. But it does mean that they need to step up and give it their best, most sincere, “shot!” I always say that if you can’t handle the small things in life, you will never be able to handle the big things.
2 – BE CONSISTENT AND FINISH WHAT YOU START
Consistency is a huge part of how to teach children reliability, as is finishing things in life. You don’t want your child to be the one who does great work in school, gets A’s for a month, and then slacks off when it gets tough. Or the child who is there for his friends during the fun times but disappears when a friend truly needs them in a crisis. Or the kid who starts five different hobbies or projects but then puts them all aside when it gets boring or the “new” wears off. These children lack consistency and will never earn trust from others – and will never learn to trust themselves. Consistently doing the right thing, even when it isn’t easy, is always the best policy. And maybe even more important is to see things through and finish ideas, tasks, projects, and commitments – even when it is less than easy or exciting.
1 – BE HONEST
If mainstream media constantly gets a story wrong, viewers will quickly turn the channel and lose trust. Having sat in the anchor chair at a major news network for a long time, I know just how quickly people turn on you when you get the facts wrong! Children also give “news” and details and facts to other kids and, if those details and stories are wrong, friends stop believing their words and soon stop being around. We can deceive others in very straightforward ways (lying, cheating, stealing) but it also happens in more subtle ways as well. Simply with a look, or a gesture, or an action. Also by telling “half truths” or only one part of a story.
A big part of being honest is always saying what you mean. Sometimes the truth may hurt but it is always worth taking the high road and being a straight shooter. Your child shouldn’t be telling another kid that they want to hang out with them but then, leave them hanging. They shouldn’t tell their teacher they will deliver on homework but never follow through. They should tell you, their parent, that they were one place on a Friday night but secretly spent the evening somewhere else. Good, old fashioned honest will never go out of style and will ALWAYS lead children (and adults) down a much easier path in life.