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As parents we naturally want to do everything for our kids because we want our kids to be happy. We tend to think that making our kids take responsibility for their things and their lives is somehow a punishment. Well, it’s not. In fact, kids want responsibility. They want to be able to take pride in their responsibilities and accomplishments. Not to mention that having kids take responsibility for their belongings helps them value and appreciate what they have more.
Here are few things that your kids should be doing for themselves that they will thank you for later:
NO MAID SERVICE
Don’t pick up after your kids. Even toddlers can learn the concept of putting their toys away after playing. Make a game out of it. When I was teaching my bonus daughter to put her things away I would set a timer for a minute or two and she would see how fast she could put her toys away. Eventually, she didn’t need the timer anymore. Both my bonus daughter and toddler put their toys away before moving on to their next activity without anyone telling them to do so.
Don’t make their bed. The first few times the bed isn’t going to look perfectly made but over time it will improve. We have our girls make their beds as soon as they get out of them in the morning. It’s just easier to remember that way. Try to make it a game to see how fast they can make their bed. Like the toy pickup, we no longer remind our girls to make their beds anymore.
Have your kids take their own dirty clothes to the laundry room and put their clean ones away. It might be hard for a kid to drag a laundry basket to the laundry room. We don’t have laundry baskets in our home for a few reasons: 1) It’s hard for kids to remember to empty the basket 2) It’s an eye sore in the room 3) Dirty clothes tend to smell over a day or two. What we do is treat our washing machine as a laundry basket. Everyone in the house puts their dirty clothes in the washer. Once it is filled up, the last person to put a garment in will start the machine.
Now, I know what you’re wondering. If everyone puts everything in the same load, then dark and lights are mixed. That’s true. However, I use Shout’s Color Catcher. OMG, I love them! It allows whites and colors to mix in the same load. BOOM! Mind blowing, right? I have found them at Target and Walmart. Amazon has them too (here) but I would comparison shop to find the best deal for your family.
When the washer is empty I’ll put one color catcher sheet in the bottom before clothes are added. Then the last person to load the washer will put another color catcher sheet on top of the laundry load as well as a laundry pod (makes it easy for my bonus daughter to do) and then the load is started.
Once it is done, my bonus daughter empties the washer and loads the dryer. The washer lid is left up to be refilled again. As a family, we fold the clothes from the dryer. The load is immediately put away. And there you have it. No laundry baskets. Kids help. Laundry has never been easier.
Have the kids wash their own dishes. Everyone in our household has their own set of dishes and cups (like these). After use, everyone hand washes their set. We rarely use our dishwasher anymore. For pots and pans, we set up an assembly line for washing, rinsing, drying, and putting away. Everyone participates, even the toddler. Dishes are done in no time at all.
NOT A PERSONAL CHEF
Kids love to help cook. Having kids help cook is a great way to teach them basic kitchen skills, improve their math (measuring), and encourage them to try new things.
When I first met my bonus daughter she was such a picky eater. All she ever wanted to eat was chicken nuggets and rice. She didn’t want to try new things just because they weren’t familiar to her. I started to have her help me cook. We started off slow with just measuring and mixing. She was so excited to help and try the result of her efforts. She’s a much better eater now, too.
Now, my toddler is on measuring and mixing while my bonus daughter is on slicing and operating kitchen appliances. At first it seemed harder and slower to complete meals with young kids but now it is so much easier. The girls love to eat what they make, and they are learning a lot in the process too.
STOP CARRYING EVERYTHING
Stop carrying everything from the car, especially things that belong to the kids like backpacks and shoes. Check out HOW TO KEEP YOUR CAR CLEAN EVEN WITH HAVING MESSY KIDS for some great tips on not only to keep your car clean but also to help with hauling everything out. Have kids help haul in groceries and their belongings. Again, it allows them to take ownership and responsibility. My toddler loves taking groceries in. The bags I hand her are super light but to her she is helping in a big way.
YOU’RE NOT AN ASSISTANT
It’s not your responsibility to remind your kids to do their homework or to rush to take their forgotten backpack to school. Please, don’t do their homework or projects either. Kids need to learn to take responsibility for themselves. Turning in a late assignment will teach them to make sure to turn things in on time in the future.
Our job as parents is to equip our children with tools and resources to help them make it through life on their own. Of course, we want to support them and I’m not really saying differently but if our children are to grow as responsible and independent adults then there are certain lessons that they need to learn on their own.
DON’T BE A FRIEND
Don’t be a friend to your child. Be a parent. There’s a reason that you are their parent and not a friend. Kids need structure and responsibility to grow. Show your love and support by enforcing rules and set responsibilities for your kids. They will respect you more for it. Kids can make plenty of friends but they can’t make more parents.
Have you thought about chores?
Assigning chores is not enslaving your kids. In fact, its entrusting them with responsibility to do tasks. Some of the chores our girls do are dusting, vacuuming, pull weeds, etc.
Some parents pay for chores and others do not. We do pay for chores. We have a system that helps our girls understand the concept of earning a wage and what to do with it. They earn $3/week. The money is split between three categories: SPENDING, SAVING, and CHARITY. The girls decide on what they want to spend their money on in those categories. So, our girls are not only learning household tasks that they can apply later in their own home, but they are also learning how to earn money and spend it wisely. A lot of life lessons right there.
How to Approach the Idea
Sit down with your kids and ask what they would like to do more of as a family at home. Explain the challenges of achieving that in the current state and suggest how it can be accomplished with their help. You can even ask them to think of ways it could be accomplished. Kids are more inclined to start new responsibilities when they feel it’s towards a good cause that interests them.
I’ll admit, when we first started to enforce responsibility I really thought our girls were going to be upset and think we were mean parents. Guess what? It was the opposite. Our girls love that we entrust them to do things for themselves. Most of all, they love all the time we get to spend with each other now. That’s right, we are spending more time as a family with the responsibility spread out. We do most of the tasks together. Sure, we may be doing a “chore” but we talk and laugh as we complete the task. Our girls look forward to completing their tasks to have a family movie night, game night, or some other sort of family fun.
Our girls are learning to take responsibility for themselves, their belongings, and learning life lessons that they can apply to their adulthood. They are happy and feel balanced.
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6 NIV
HOW DO YOU TEACH YOUR CHILD THE RESPONSIBILITY OF MONEY?