simple ways to teach children responsibility
My 5 year old (soon to be 6) and 4 year old are now old enough to manage simple chores. This includes things like setting the table, organizing their toys, making their bed, watering the flowers, feeding the fish, etc. They are both at an age where they want to be independent and have a good understanding of our day-to-day routines and chores. We started giving chores to them at about 2 years old, and now that they are older they can do more.
While it’s not perfect, we have found that our Chores and Rewards system helps make things feel a little less crazy around the house, so I wanted to share it with you in hopes that it might work for you too.
Toddlers love to help, and we know they are not going to do the perfect job, but guiding them to do it the right way helps give them a good base for when they are older.
- help put toys away
- help feed pets
- put clothes in the hamper
- help wipe up spills
- dust with socks on their hands
- help stack or put away books and magazines
- throw trash away in the bin
Ages 4 to 5
Pre-school aged children are capable to do jobs without much supervision. Children this age love to do chores with their parents and love to learn how to do new things. It can even make them feel important for helping you out.
Any of the above chores, plus:
- Make their own bed
- empty the trash
- bring in mail or newspaper
- set the table
- wipe table after breakfast/lunch/dinner
- clear table after dinner
- help with cooking or things around the kitchen
- carrying and putting away groceries
- put their dish away in the sink
- help pull weeds, if you have a garden
- help water flowers or plants
- dry and put away dishes
- help unload the dishwasher
- pour a bowl of cereal
- help get groceries from the car and put it away
School aged children are capable of more advanced chores. By this age children want to be independent and this is a great way to help them do so. It can also give them a sense of pride.
Any of the above chores, plus:
- sweep floor
- help fold laundry
- help make lunch and pack it
- mop floors or dust
- take out trash
- empty dishwasher
- rake leaves
- peel potatoes or carrots
- replace toilet paper roll
* as your kids get older you can have them do all of the above chores, but with more responsibilities and capabilities.
We all know that sometimes getting your children to do chores is like pulling teeth, but in our home we have an incentive program. Every time they do ALL of their daily chores, they get an allowance. At the end of the week they have a choice to either spend it on one item or they can save up for a bigger item. This also helps them learn the value of a dollar (we explain to them that their piggy bank is a checking’s account and if they save up for the week or month then its like a savings account). They learn that saving money can sometimes benefit you more than spending it every time you get it. Another way to motivate your children to do their chores is by making a chore chart. You can give them a sticker to put on the chart every time a chore is completed. At the end of the week you can have them pick out a treat or save up their stickers to get something bigger or maybe go on a special outing.