Thursday, March 10, 2016

Raise Responsible Children By Assigning Household Chores

“If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.”
- Abigail Van Buren

As discussed last week, teaching responsibility to children is a critical way that parents prepare their kids for adulthood and set them up for success later in life. Children who are given age appropriate responsibilities around the house that gradually increase as they mature, develop the skills and confidence needed to succeed and thrive when they leave their parents’ home. On the other hand, children who are not given responsibilities around the house will have a more difficult time adjusting to life outside of their parents’ house and will struggle to develop the habits and skills they need to run their own home. If your child readily accepts the responsibilities they are given, asks to help out more, or is being given more privileges, they are probably ready for more responsibility. Here are a few age appropriate responsibilities that your children should be able to take on:

Preschoolers: Children in this age group can help dust, as well as help clean up spills. They can also be responsible for putting their toys away and dropping their dirty clothes in the hamper.

Kindergarteners: Kindergarteners can help set and clear the table, put food and water in the pet’s bowls, and make their beds. They can also get dressed with little parental help, carry in the lighter groceries, match socks in the laundry, clean floors with a dry mop, and hang up bath towels.

Elementary Schoolers: Elementary schoolers can fold and put away the laundry, help with house cleaning, including vacuuming and mopping individual rooms, taking out the trash, putting away dishes, raking leaves, keeping their bedroom clean, and cleaning their bathroom with supervision. They can also write thank you notes, take care of personal hygiene, choose their clothes for the day and get dressed, and be responsible for their homework and belongings.

Middle Schoolers: Middle schoolers  should be able to take on new responsibilities at home every year. They can set their alarm clock, maintain personal items like recharging batteries, keep their room clean, change bed linens, change light bulbs, dust, vacuum, clean bathrooms and do dishes, mow the lawn with supervision, possibly babysit younger siblings, and prepare a family meal. Middle schoolers should be able to do assigned chores and complete homework assignments without prompting, wash windows with supervision, and do miscellaneous yard work.

High Schoolers: High schoolers continue to take on new responsibilities each year. This is the time to make sure they know how to do basic things like plan, purchase and prepare meals, do laundry, manage money and even live within a budget. High schoolers with part time jobs can be responsible for earning spending money, purchasing their own clothes, and maintaining the car they drive by filling up the gas tank, taking the car in for oil changes, and checking tire pressure. Like middle schoolers, high schoolers should be responsible for completing homework assignments and staying on top of their schoolwork without prompting.

Teaching responsibility to your child is a key part of parenthood. One of the major ways you teach your children responsibility is by assigning them household chores. Not only are you showing your children that they have an important role in the family, but you are also laying a foundation for their future success in managing money and running a household, as well as helping them build confidence in their ability to succeed in school, in relationships, and in their career.

Be sure to read next week’s blog where I’ll discuss several things to keep in mind when you are teaching your kids responsibility with household chores.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Answer These 5 Questions to Fine-Tune Your Child’s Growth Through Responsibility

As parents, we desire that our children will grow into capable adults. When our children leave home and go out into the world, we hope that we have given them the tools they need to function as responsible adults, and we hope that they have confidence in their ability to make good decisions without us. Giving our children age-appropriate responsibilities, that increase as he or she grows and matures, is a major way that parents prepare children for adulthood, as well as help children to believe in their ability to take on responsibilities. However, we don’t want our children to grow up too fast by taking on too many duties at the wrong time. So, how do we find the balance? There are many indicators we can use to let us know whether we are giving our children enough responsibility.

How does your child react to responsibility?

Does she cringe or accept it with a willingness to help? A child who resists responsibility may be overwhelmed with what you are already giving them, or simply not wanting more. This is an area where knowing your child comes into play. A child who readily accepts more responsibility when given it is generally being given the right amount.  If your child is particularly resistant to all responsibilities, that needs to be addressed, but that is a topic for another blog post.

Is your child bored?

This can be an indicator that your child doesn’t have enough responsibility. Children, unless special circumstances are preventing it, enjoy and even seek a good challenge. They take pride in their accomplishments and look for more ways to replicate that feeling. If a child is not being challenged enough, they may get bored and act out. Often, a child labelled with bad behavior is just seeking fulfillment.

What are other parents doing?

Check in with a parent that you trust, and whose parenting style you respect. Compare notes and determine if your child is being given approximately the same amount of responsibility as the trusted parent’s child. Every family situation is different, so don’t use this input as your only method. However, you can get a general idea of what is and isn’t appropriate for a child the same age as yours.

Does your son or daughter ask to help out more?

Has your child asked for more chores, or been seeking accountability from you in some area? A child who feels an innate need for more responsibility may ask for it, which can be displayed by wanting more chores, or checking in with you even when you didn’t ask her to. Trust your child’s natural intuition and work with her to find a better balance.

Do responsibilities match privileges?

As your child grows and becomes more responsible, her privileges should expand to reflect that as well. And likewise, as your child grows old enough to receive more privileges, you will know that you can hold her accountable with more responsibility. As long as these two match, it’s a good indicator that you are on the right track.

There is not always an easy path to helping our children learn about responsibility.  All children are different, and one approach does not fit all. However, we can use this list to give ourselves a general idea of whether or not we are giving our children enough responsibility, and setting them up for success in their future.

Be sure to catch next week’s blog where I’ll discuss a few simple ways you can introduce age-appropriate responsibilities to your children.