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Children and Responsibility

Responsibility is a valuable lesson that when instilled in children at an early age, can teach your child how to handle greater responsibilities they will encounter as they grow up. More than likely your child will be excited to start taking on household chores because it means you trust them enough responsibilities to let them handle a certain task or assignment. Responsibilities and chores will also allow your child to feel like they are part of the family and they bring something to the table. Tasks will encourage feelings of teamwork and self-worth within a child.

Teaching Children Responsibility

You want to assign responsibilities and expectations upfront. You want to let your child know that their tasks are going to be important and a good effort and attitude is required. Make sure you let them know this is part of being a "big girl/boy," and growing up requires them to take on certain responsibilities. Below are some ways to begin teaching your child the values of responsibilities:

  • Establish responsibilities and chores together. Give your child some say in what household duties they like participating in. If they like washing the dishes with you then let them, but also rotate a variety of tasks so they learn how to do different jobs that assist in keeping the house running and family together. Setting up a chore chart is a fun and easy way to communicate your expectations.
  • Show them what happens when a job is not done correctly or at all. If they didn't want to set the table let them know how that impacts family dinner time. Maybe it takes extra time to sit down and eat or maybe everyone has to use paper plates and plastic cups (i.e., "little kid's cups") tonight. This lets them know their chores are important and that they contribute to the functioning of the house.
  • Stand your ground in "chore battles." Once your child gets over the excitement of doing chores they might want to trade tasks or find excuses to not participate in them. You'll want to ignore these attempts and once again remind them why their chore is so important. If you give into the attempt just once, they'll quickly learn how to get around or avoid doing what is expected of them.
  • Use positive reinforcement. Allow them to enjoy the benefits of a task well done. "You did such a good job on your chores this week, this weekend we're going to go the park (zoo, movies, mall, etc.)." A fun way to do this is to set up a points and reward system with a chore chart where the child earns points for each chore or group of chores completed. The points can be used to "buy" rewards from a points store you set up for them. Rewards can be non-monetary such as extra TV time, or something monetary such as a video rental or game.

Implementing daily chores or tasks is an excellent way for your child to develop stepping stones towards responsibility. They'll soon learn that responsibilities are a normal part of life and that undertaking them provides positive contributions to the family and themselves as individuals.