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Character Counts » The Pillar of Responsibility

The Pillar of Responsibility

The Character Counts Coalition uses the color green to symbolize the pillar of Responsibility. 

During the month of January, Madison School is focusing on the pillar of Responsibility. We hope this information is helpful to you so that you may understand what your child is learning at school and to reinforce and continue the learning process at home.

These are the main ideas that apply to the pillar of Responsibility:

  • Accountability: This means that you accept responsibility for the consequences of your choices. It is taking responsibility for the things you choose to do and the things you choose not to do.
  • Self-control: Set realistic goals. Have a positive attitude. Act out of reason, not anger or revenge. Be self-reliant.
  • Duty: Doing your duty means doing what you should do. Duties can come from rules, laws, agreements, or ethical obligations.
  • Excellence: Pursuing excellence means doing your best. It means persevering and not giving up. Be prepared, organized and work hard.


“When you have a choice and don’t make it, that in itself is a choice.” - William James

“What lies in our power to do also lies in our power not to do.” - Anonymous

“The person who makes success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That is dedication.” - Cecil B. De Mille

Responsible people will understand two important concepts. First, life is full of choices. Second, we are in charge of our choices. With an understanding of these concepts, a responsible person knows and does their duty, is accountable, pursues excellence, and exercises self-control. Responsible people will also know and live by the understanding that sometimes there are things that are legal and accepted in society, but that they may not be right. It is always important to consider the difference between what we have the right to do and what we know is the right thing to do.


Ways to Model Responsibility and Self-discipline

  • Return things on time and in the condition you borrowed them.
  • Talk about your responsibilities and those of others around you. Discuss what would happen in different situations if you or others were not responsible.
  • Set firm, but fair rules. Let the children participate in deciding on the rules and consequences. Be consistent, praise good behavior, and try not to overreact when rules are broken.
  • Don’t blame or make excuses; take responsibility for what you do and what you say.
  • If you make a mistake, apologize and make it right.
  • Change behaviors that are ineffective or destructive.
  • Follow through on commitments and keep your promises. Do what you say you will do and be where you say you will be.

Characteristics of Responsible, Self Managing Children

  • Responsible children will be more cooperative, find satisfaction in finishing a job, and find joy in learning. They will feel more self confident, capable, valued and in control of their life.
  • Responsible children will be less vulnerable to peer pressure. They will still care what others think and will consider other people’s feelings, but they will make decisions based on what they believe is the right thing to do, even at the risk of ridicule or rejectio.n
  • Responsible children consider their options, rather than just doing what they are told.
  • Responsible children are less likely to blame their choices on someone else. They will make the connection between their behavior and the consequences of their behavior.

Encourage Responsibility, Independence, and Self Management

  • Communicate unconditional love and approval regardless of whether or not your child makes responsible choices.
  • Be more concerned with the process of making good choices; how they come to their decisions rather than the outcome of their decisions. Praise and encourage the good things, the effort and the decision making process that they went through.
  • Offer choices with limits that you find acceptable. This helps to elicit responsibility without threats or demands.
  • Trust your child’s ability to make good decisions. Offer choices they can handle to help build their experience in making decisions and choices.
  • Allow your child to experience the consequences of their poor choices in order to help them learn. Children learn from mistakes and will gain confidence in the act of being responsible for their choices.
  • Encourage responsible television watching. Watch programs with your children and encourage discussions on how characters handle situations and if they would choose to do things differently if they were in that situation.
  • Limit video game playing to a certain amount of time or link it as a reward for responsible behavior. Children can learn that following structure and routine is a part of being responsible.

Doing Their Part

Even very young children can handle some responsibility in the form of chores around the house. As children grow, mature and become more responsible you can increase the chores or the level of difficulty. Let them choose some of the chores so they feel they are part of the decision making process. This will also help to eliminate arguments over getting them dome. This will help them feel that they are a part of the family and have a secure sense of belonging. It takes the work and help of every member of the family to make a family run efficiently and smoothly. Make a chart for the family to see who is responsible for what jobs. Allow the children to decorate it. Use rewards for a job well done and to keep the children motivated. When everyone in the family does all of the chores, you will find that there is more time for family time to do fun things together.

One of the most important jobs of a parent is to help their children develop a strong character based on good values. Remember that the development of good character is a process. Each day and each situation adds to the foundation that you are helping to build. There will be set backs and there will be progress. Keep your confidence and determination and you will see the rewards.

Prepared for you by Kimberly Pappas, School Counselor. Please call 310-798-8623 or email [email protected] if I can be of any assistance to you.