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  • Sammie Joseph-Fredericks

6 Ways to Teach Responsibility with Chores.


My six-year-old son is our Compost Manager at home. Yes, you read right, Compost Manager! He is responsible for collecting the scraps from food, putting them into a dedicated compost bin and taking out the trash when the bin full. Every Saturday, he gets paid three dollars  and he gets to decide how the money is spent.  We had our son sign a contract prior to taking on this role.  For the most part, he has been very good about completing the tasks but there have been instances, though, where he’s neglected this responsibility, completely.  We had to remind him a few times or simply do it ourselves since it was the easy thing to do at that time. There were no consequences.  What lesson did we teach by doing this? Not a very good one, unfortunately. If we want our kids to be responsible and wholly prepared to deal with the real world, we must start teaching them now what that world is like. We eventually decided to teach him, in a real and hard way, that his chore was his responsibility and that he does not get paid for work he fails to complete. The kid was not happy.

Here are a few ways to teach children to be responsible with chores:

But first, teach. We can't expect our children to automatically know things we haven't taught them. Teach them. Demonstrate how to complete the tasks before giving them the responsibility of taking them on.

Let go! Give them the opportunity to put into practice, without your help, everything you’ve taught them.

Let them fail. This is how we learn. Experience is the best teacher. Failure builds character, instills courage, spawns creativity and teaches resilience. Also, encourage them to celebrate their successes.

Talk about consequences. For every action or inaction, there is a corresponding  consequence. In our case, if you do not work, you don’t get paid. If you don’t get paid, you can’t buy what you want. This is what happens in the real world! Why not teach the lesson now? Why not teach the consequences of irresponsibility?

Reinforce the lesson. My son did not understand why he wasn’t getting his allowance that Saturday. He was looking forward to adding three dollars to his bank. Clearly, he did not fully get the connection between the work he was doing and the money he was getting. I took the opportunity to reinforce the lesson.

Help them get back on track. Help your children identify ways to get back on track. Allow them to drive this process and come up with ideas on their own. In our situation, we put an alarm on my son’s watch to help remind him to do his work. This has worked out perfectly!

Teaching children about responsibility isn't easy, but it is an important key to children’s success now in school and in the larger world when they grow up.

Let's keep the kids learning!





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