Teaching children responsibility

I was so proud of both of my girls receiving the character award for “responsibility” at their elementary school this year! Knowing that my girls are learning responsibility and showing that even when we are not around makes this momma’s heart happy. I want my children to grow up to be responsible adults and the best way to start is by teaching them to be responsible children.

As parents, sometimes it is far easier for us to do things for our children rather than make them do it themselves. If my husband reads this, here’s my admission of guilt sometimes. By making children clean up after themselves, perhaps over time they will learn not to make as big of a mess. By letting children help pick snacks, we can teach them healthy eating. There are so many ways we can teach lifelong skills to our children in our everyday lives.

Over the past two years, we started giving our girls a weekly allowance and to earn their allowance, they have assigned chores to complete. We let our girls help make their chore list – which I strongly encourage parents to try. Of course, we had chores we came up with but the girls added some great options as well. Our girls are 8 and almost 6 and some of their chores are: feed dogs, make bed (this one rarely gets done – but they have bunk beds so I cut them some slack), clean room, clean playroom, bring dishes to the sink after meals, and be nice to your sister. We add in other ways they can help as those present themselves.

As adults, we grumble with housework and cleaning, but I notice my girls begging to scrub a toilet or clean the table. Just a couple of nights ago, I posted a picture on Facebook of my oldest daughter vacuuming with her iPad in a backpack connected to her headphones, listening to music. She was excited to get to help (and I was excited for her too!). Showing them that helping can be fun will make it less of a daunting task.

How far you want to take chores is up to you – but I do encourage children to have some sort of jobs at home. Of course, these should be age appropriate. For example: Ages 2-3: put toys away, stack books on the shelf, throw away trash, wipe baseboards, put dirty clothes in the hamper. Age 4-5: feed pets, dry spills, make the bed, clean up toys, sort silverware, take dishes to the sink. Age 6-7: fold towels, match socks, clean room, help sweep/vacuum. Age 8-9: load dishwasher, fold clothes, dust, wipe off table. Age 10-11: Clean bathrooms, bring in mail, help cook simple meals, vacuum. Ages 12+: help wash/vacuum cars, wash windows/mirrors, clean bathrooms, help iron, mop floors.

Talk to your friends about ways they’ve helped their children learn responsibility. Look for fun ways to teach these valuable skills and make it enjoyable! You’ll love watching how proud your children will be of themselves when they get to help out and serve their family and others around.

Katelin Whiddon
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