“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.