23 Teach responsibility As children get older, they need to understand that with increased inde- pendence comes increased responsibility. The tips below will help you teach your child how to act responsibly. u Give your child responsibilities around the house. Children can help prepare meals, mow the lawn, take out the garbage, or be responsible for the care of a pet. u Base the amount of freedom you give your child on how responsible he/she is. u Establish reasonable rules and enforce them consistently. u Talk to your child about the importance of making good choices and decisions, and help your child figure out what to do in specific situations. For example, discuss what your child would say and do if offered a cigarette. u Tell your child that he/she can always use you as an excuse. For ex- ample, “My parents always find out when I do something wrong, and they’d lock me away forever if ...” u Make sure that your child knows basic social behaviors (have a firm handshake, write thank you notes, etc.). u Teach financial responsibility by giving your child an allowance and by setting up a savings account. u Pick your battles. Decide early on what issues are non-negotiable (e.g., grades, drugs, alcohol, smoking). If you see your child needing to rebel, consider allowing a little “safe rebellion.” For example, you might allow your child to have a messy room or wear a hairstyle you don’t like. u Be a good role model. Children learn their behaviors and attitudes from their parents more than from anyone else.