Teaching Your Child Responsibility
If you search the web for effective ways to teach children about responsibility, a surprising number of results give tips on how to assign household chores. It’s not like everyone’s advocating turning our children into servants – although having the extra sets of helping hands certainly is nice! But helping around the house is an easy and effective way to introduce your child to responsibility – Kiddie Academy® Educational Child Care’s value of the month for March.
Responsibility means taking on a task and seeing it through to completion. It also includes a measure of accountability, meaning that you take ownership of your decisions and actions.
Being a responsible person means people can rely on you to get the job done; that you can handle the task and take appropriate steps to get things accomplished.
“We give children opportunities to take responsibility throughout the day,” said Richard Peterson, Kiddie Academy’s Vice President of Education. “They may be ‘line leaders,’ as the class transitions to outdoor activities, or ‘clean-up helpers,’ after family-style dinning. Many of our Academy daily routines require a child to be responsible. Our teachers identify a few specific things at a time to focus on until the children become competent at those tasks and are ready for new challenges.”
If you decide to assign chores to your child, it’s important to make sure that it doesn’t come off looking like punishment. We all know there are things that routinely need to be done around the home. Letting your child participate in these household tasks lets them feel like they’re helping and gives them a sense of accomplishment.
“At home, parents can set age-appropriate tasks they know their child can complete without becoming frustrated,” said Peterson. “Always give concise directions which are easy to understand. That sets up the child for success. Giving your child tasks that also require some effort, but are achievable for their age, will ensure a sense of independence.”
And, it’s not all drudgery. Our friends at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) point out that not only can chores help teach responsibility, they also open the door to other unexpected opportunities for playing, exploring and discovery.
Here are some guidelines for productively using household chores as a lesson in responsibility for your child:
– Make it age-appropriate – 2- and 3-year-olds can help with easy tasks, like picking up toys and (with supervision) filling pet food and water bowls. Older children can do things like sort laundry, help bring items from the car into the house, and get themselves dressed.
– Praise them – Children want to help. Thank them for their efforts when they do. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in turning a lesson in responsibility into an enjoyable experience.
– Be a good role model – What you do matters. If you want your child to learn to be responsible, show them how you do it.
We’ve included a Kiddie Academy Chore Chart that you can download and use at home for your family.
Here are some additional resources about teaching responsibility:
“The Importance of Household Chores” – PBSParents.org
“9 Tips for Teaching Kids Responsibility” – Care.com
“Tips for Teaching Responsibility” – The Center for Parenting Education
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