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Most children naturally want to be helpful and seek praise for their activities, while parents aim to nurture well-adjusted, reliable, and responsible adults that take pride in their accomplishments. Here is how to best teach children responsibility from a young age:

Make chores fun

By switching to a positive parenting approach of making chores fun from an early age, the response will likely be much more agreeable. For example, consider turning up the music and having a dance while you clean up or pretending to tuck in the dolls for a nap. If children associate cleaning and chores with having fun, they are less likely to avoid them.

Let everyone do their part

You are not going to insist that your three-year-old mows the lawn or makes their bed, but it is still possible to assign age-appropriate chores and responsibilities. Check out our list of household chores for every age below:

Age

Age-Appropriate Chore

2-3 years

Put away toys

Put their clothes or towels in the laundry basket

Dust tabletops or non-breakable items

Putting trash into the bin

4-7 years

Above chores plus:

Setting the table

Helping clear the table

Making their bed

8-13 years

Above chores plus:

Bring in the mail

Help with weeding the garden

Watering plants indoors and outdoors

Taking out the trash

Put away their laundry

14 years +

Above chores plus:

Mow the lawn

Babysit younger family members

Iron and fold laundry

Cook a meal

Clean their bathroom

Be an active role model

Seeing tasks through to completion and modeling responsibility is an integral component of learning. Bring up in conversation the functions you need to do at work or home and how you overcame obstacles.

Get a low-maintenance pet

Children often want a dog or cat to love and play with; however, the responsibility for these pets tends to fall to the parents. If your children are nagging you for a pet, then consider starting with one that is lower maintenance. For example, betta fish are colorful, relatively inexpensive, and require minimal intervention. Children can be tasked with researching appropriate care guidelines such as betta fish water temp or what betta fish eat.

Teach children about consequences

Teaching about consequences can be challenging for parents, especially if they err towards softer parenting styles. However, learning that every action, good or bad, has consequences on other people and themselves is an essential lesson. Rather than punishing your child or admonishing their behavior, try to discuss appropriate alternative means of solving the problem at hand.

Celebrate the little things

Birthdays, Christmas, and graduation are all milestones worthy of celebrating for every child. However, learn to celebrate the more minor achievements, as well as your child’s perseverance, kindness, and actions. Praise and focus on your child's actions rather than their sense of self. For example, instead of saying ‘You are so smart”, amend this to “I can tell you studied very hard for your test, look at your excellent grade.”

By starting to teach responsibility early, you are well on the way to parenting a confident, resilient child ready to tackle new challenges. Parenting takes vast amounts of love, understanding, and commitment to raise responsible children through to adulthood.