Teaching Kids Responsibility

Encouraging children to do every day tasks around the house is an important part of growing up and teaching kids responsibility. I read a saying recently that really rings true to the way I think kids should be raised. Put simply, the author, Denis Waitley believes that teaching your kids to be responsible for things will give them independence and let’s face it, there is nothing better for a kid than realising that they are capable!

This is the way I was raised and how I have encouraged my kids to do things for themselves. I won’t lie and say that they do this all the time, because they simply do not. However I will say that they definitely understand that I am not there to pick up after them and pander to their every need.

Creating chores, and having your kids do them, is an integral part of teaching kids responsibility.  Before you begin, research what chores your child may be capable of handling. You don’t want to give your child something to be responsible for which they cannot actually do. They will only feel incompetent as a result. For example, if hanging up their clothes is one of their chores, make sure they can actually reach the clothes rail.

To help you decide on chores for your kids, here is an age-appropriate chore outline:

2 – 3 years old

It is important to lay the groundwork for responsible behaviour so whilst this age groups’ helping may cause you some stress, keep at it. Your child will be excited and eager to participate and without knowing it, they will develop confidence because you allow them the space to do stuff!

  • Pick up after themselves when they have finished playing.
  • Take dirty clothes and laundry to the basket or laundry room.
  • Kids love their pets, but if they want them, they should help to feed them.
  • Help weed the flowerbed.
  • Light cleaning/dusting around the house – more make believe than anything, but if they follow you around, they soon learn that it is important to all pitch in with household tasks.
  • Pick up the towels in the bathroom.
  • When a mess is made, try not to get angry and gently have them help you tidy it up.
  • Help make the bed.

4 – 5 years old

This age is generally still keen to help out and excited to ‘learn’ new chores. At this age, you also don’t have to watch everything they do so perhaps give them a bit of space. This age group also LOVE rewards and are highly motivated by them so start thinking about small rewards for them (and consequences should things not be done).

  • Dust (not if your child has allergies).
  • Help out in cooking and preparing food.
  • Carrying and putting away groceries.
  • Help water the plants.
  • Sharpen pencils and clean up art supply box.
  • Help clean the car.
  • Clear and set the table.
  • Empty the small rubbish bins on rubbish day.
  • Put laundry away.

6 – 8 years old

It is starting to get harder to keep this age group enthused about helping out but the most important lesson for them is that they can work independently. So, not matter how small and where permitting, let your child complete the chore on their own.

  • Set out clothes for the next day at school.
  • Start paying for their small purchases (small sweets etc.).
  • Help out with younger siblings (if necessary).
  • Wash dishes.
  • Make the bed/change the sheets.
  • Sweep the kitchen and outside area.
  • Gardening.
  • Clear and set the table.
  • Wash rubbish bins.
  • Vacuum the car.

9 – 12 years old

Children in this preteen age are capable of increasing responsibility where chores are concerned. Keep in mind that many children this age rely on continuity. Find a system that works for your family and do not change it without the input and support of the people it directly affects. Make sure that you factor in rewards and consequences and address those issues with your children. Let them know the consequences of not completing chores, as well as the rewards for fulfilling their responsibilities.

  • Wash the car.
  • Help prepare simple meals: sandwiches etc.
  • Clean the kitchen/bathroom.
  • Use the washing machine.
  • Hang washing on the line.
  • Bathing on their own and taking care of their hygiene.
  • Gardening – racking and planting.
  • Helping with younger siblings/baby sitting.
  • Helping with groceries.
  • Becoming responsible for their own schedule.

13 years & older

This age group is fast heading towards adulthood so their chores will become more complicated / grown up. However, this is also the time when your child’s school schedule becomes more arduous so ensure that their chores aren’t adding to their stress.

  • Wash the car.
  • Help prepare simple meals: sandwiches etc.
  • Make decisions about themselves and their social life.
  • Help arrange social events.
  • Hang washing on the line.
  • Iron clothes.
  • Polish shoes.
  • Gardening – racking and planting.
  • Helping with younger siblings/baby sitting.
  • Wash windows.
  • Assist with pets.
  • Help to compile grocery lists.

REMEMBER:

  • Children mature at their own pace, therefore use this list as a guideline. Add to the list chores that would suit your family and re-evaluate when necessary.
  • Doing chores for any of these age groups, should not be solely motivated by what they are going to get out of it. Children need to learn the value of doing things just because it is the right thing to do.

By Isabelle du Grandpre

www.neatfreak.co.za

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