Responsibility is one of the top qualities parents want their chidlren to have when children grow up. To be responsible literally means to be able to respond, to answer why someone did what he did. If the action is wrong, the answer is not easy. It requires courage to admit that someone was wrong, and it requires intelligence to discern between right and wrong, and it requires desire to learn from the lesson and not do the same thing again.
When it comes to teaching children responsibility parents are confused in many ways. They think their duty is to explain to children why particular actions are wrong, which assumingly develops children’s intelligence. They also try to be friendly so that children won’t fear punishment for their misbehavior. Instead of harsh punishment parents would use a punishment of a soft sort. For example, if a boy took a toy from his sister and she started crying, his parents will explain why his behavior was bad and hurt his sister; therefore he must have a time out. Will the boy become responsible and not hurt his sister again because of the explanation and the time out?
Intelligence to discern between right and wrong doesn’t come to a child from explanations. The child must have a willingness to act in the right way and to avoid temptations. This willingness doesn’t come because of words; it comes because of feelings. In the example above if the boy could feel his sister’s pain, he would not be able to hurt her next time. The ability to feel for another person, or imagine another person’s pain, is the quality of a developed heart. Do parents think about developing children’s feelings when they think of teaching responsibility?
Commentary to Parenting For Everyone, Book 1 Part1 chapter 9