When it comes to teaching children responsibility, parents have to do more than model good behavior. As a matter of fact, we need to do less.

You know the expression, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Well, it’s time to teach our kids to fish, cook, clean and more. But if we want them to get excited about participating, we need to move over and let them do things their way. (I’ve been known to reorganize the dishwasher after others have loaded it, discouraging them from ever doing it again!)

With current social and environmental concerns in mind, it seems like the perfect time to ask our kids to step up and contribute, age appropriately, to our households, neighborhoods, communities and world. While it’s easy to get caught up in the tasks at hand, it’s equally important to be kind and caring, as we work together toward a common goal. I have to remind myself daily to value participation over perfection.

So why not ask your kids, specifically, what they’d like to do to help out on a daily and weekly basis? And talk about the many ways they can leave places and situations better than they found them. Maybe they can write their ideas on a monthly calendar  and even journal about it. Encourage your children to start small, around the house and yard, and then eventually expand their efforts to include school and community. Because, just like peace, responsibility begins at home.