10 Ways To Make Teaching Responsibility to Your Child Easier (and Fun)
Teaching responsibility to kids does not have to be a formal or painstaking task. These how-to techniques offer ideas on weaving responsibility into the day-to-day routine that enables your child to learn the potential of responsibility.
Want to cut to the chase?
Free Chore Chart Printable
Get My Free Printable PDF NowGet it Now
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
The words responsibility and fun are not typically together. However, it is possible to teach responsibility to kids in a fun way – without discounting the value of hard work.
Telling your child to take out the trash will inevitably result in moans and groans, then some complaining from start to finish. Dishes – same; requesting laundry to be cleaned results in offending the small person who wore the clothes by requesting that they actually participate in any portion of the cleaning process of said clothes.
I have yet to meet any person who genuinely enjoys these mundane cycles of chores and daily responsibilities. I know they’re out there – strange, but true. If adults dislike housework then, of course, we can expect the same from kids.
Even beyond chores around the house, there are liabilities of paying bills, errands, planning, and many more valuable tasks we should teach our kids. Time is precious and my patience are thin, so we have to get creative. Weaving lessons of responsibility into more enjoyable methods can have your child catching on without even realizing it.
Here are some ideas to try.
#1) Teach with Gift Cards
For birthdays we give gift cards to the child’s favorite place to eat. My oldest son loves Subway. Considering gluten issues and preferences, our family does not eat there as often as my son would like, so he is thrilled when he gets a loaded gift card to grab a sub without waiting for the entire family to agree on it. He uses his gift card to order online (supervised) for pickup. We live about 5 minutes from a Subway so if we’re heading out for errands he can pick up his online order. Using his gift card to order inside the restaurant is beneficial as well. In either scenario, he is learning to organize and place his order, use the method of payment, and keep up with his balance independently. This is like a mini version of a debit card – when the funds are gone, they’re gone. This makes him question whether he really wants to spend the extra money on that cookie or bag of chips. Suddenly, whatever we have to drink at home will now satisfy him rather than spending the extra money on a bottled drink and depleting his card.
#2) Try Gardening
Okay, hear me out on this one.
The initial planting is exciting for kids. However, once the garden starts growing, and needs weeding, they may lose interest. Don’t give up – let them harvest, which is another exciting part, and they start to see (and hopefully, taste) the fruits of their labor.
Finally, let them sell the surplus – neighbors, friends, or even a self-service roadside table (we do this each year based on the honor system – we keep it simple with the vegetables displayed on a shaded table along with a price list and box for the money). Cash is a powerful incentive to kids, and allowing them to keep a share in exchange for their work will make it an appealing venture.
#3) Get a Library Card
Technology has provided many different options in life, but there is just something about spending time in the library picking out a book and enjoying the atmosphere. Libraries are great at emphasizing the importance and responsibility of having your own library card. I still remember (and have it somewhere) my first library card. I slowly and carefully penned my shaky half-cursive signature on the back of the card. As a young kid, it made me feel like I had some power and importance, and it felt good. Now libraries not only offer hard copy books to checkout but audiobooks, online books, and many other resources to interest kids. Most library systems can link your child’s card to your account so that any overdue book notices will come to you. Of course, you could always leave this in the child’s court and then they could pay any fees that incur. I have also had my child personally apologize for a damaged book and discuss with the librarian if the book needed to be replaced or not. It didn’t squelch their love of checking out books, but it did cause them to handle the books more carefully.
#4) Get Their Input
My daughter handles the chore of taking care of the dogs (she’s a dog lover and can’t stand the thought of our two dogs without fresh water or food for 30 seconds). She doesn’t mind doing this and will eagerly handle whatever the need is when I mention it.
Find your child’s preferred task and let them take ownership of it.
Ask for suggestions – out of all the chores around the house, which they prefer. Narrow down and sort out everyone’s pick and allow them to take claim to their preferred chores. A dry erase board or visual can help remind each child of their choice. My oldest son jumps on bathroom duty; my daughter prefers washing windows (she’s also the tallest child). My youngest is still working on his niche – we’ll get there.
#5) Play Up Presentation
Pressing the contraption that releases a stamp of fragrant blue gel cleaner into the toilet bowl rim is satisfying to me (I know, I need to get out more). Presentation means a lot. Show your child these simple things and let them do it. Telling my kids to clean the toilet has more meaning when it allows them to use interesting tools and gadgets. Play it up – even if it is lackluster. Trade in the rag and furniture spray for a more innovative dust wand or other trade-ups.
Just the word organize brings to mind hours of sorting, rearranging, and purging.
One of my daughter’s strengths is organizing and sorting. Instead of making it a chore, I ask her to help organize something, say the junk drawer. I give her some guidelines (what to keep, to donate, or just throw away) but let her take charge of the task. Usually what happens is the person sorting gets caught up in all the forgotten (but sometimes strange) treasures and it becomes interesting and intriguing. My goal is that this simple start will help them know how to organize the bigger things in life as adults.
#7) Let Them Order Your Food
At sit-down restaurants, discuss menu options and decisions on the meal before the waiter or the waitress arrives, then allow your child to order for themselves. The burden of getting the details correct is now in their court – these are important communication skills to learn (and great practice of manners). Also, if the order arrives incorrect, have the child politely speak up for themselves to get the issue corrected.
Not just baking cookies (which is always fun) but a step further. Have your child create the meal from start to finish, including the planning of what to fix (wait till they start asking what everyone wants for dinner – it’s pure karma as the answers we as moms usually hear start rolling in). Help them prepare the meal but then let them think through what else they need to do, such as setting the table. They will take great pride in their accomplishments once everyone is seated and enjoying the meal.
#9) Teach Money Management
Using 3 recycled food containers labeled spend, save, and donate we are working on money management. Money that the kids receive, either from gifts or working to earn money is portioned out to each container, not necessarily equally, but however they decide. Surprisingly they started putting as much (or more) in savings as spend.
After saving up for a while, the money then goes to their “Squirrel Account”, a great program from the local credit union that allows young kids to open up a savings account. Each child went inside the credit union to officially open their account. Statements are sent to them each month in their name (although I still have guardianship).
After seeing a few months of interest building, the lesson on interest earned from your savings started making much more sense to them. As a bonus, the credit union will send birthday cards to the children and give incentives and rewards for participating.
#10) Talk to Them In the Moment
My husband is self-employed, and I do his bookkeeping, so the kids hear the day-to-day of running a business. We discuss the business needs in front of the kids; allowing them to see that it is no easy feat. Along with that, we also discuss our finances around the kids (if you have a chatty one that will go tell the entire class at school you may want to save this for the future).
Not to say we hand over our bank statements for them to comb through, but just explaining things such as the mortgage that is due, how much it is, and what exactly is a mortgage. With that, the other obligations that go along with a mortgage: taxes, insurance, maintenance, etc. Talk about the grocery bill and maybe even ask them to help with couponing (another good organizing skill).
Let them get an idea of how much it costs to feed a family, pay for a house and buy a car; and not just having these things magically happen for them. Understanding how finances work is an important life skill, but it also may curb some of the needless requests. Recently, I overheard my oldest (and more conservative) son explaining to his younger brother how that running a household is costly and he shouldn’t ask for everything he sees.
Sometimes hearing different perspectives – especially peer-to-peer – clarifies the point you’re trying to make as a parent.
Care to Share?
Get Sanity, Delivered to Your Inbox.
About the Author
Hey there! My name is Rhonda Ellis. I have three wonderful kids who call me mom; a job I never knew I wanted, but wouldn’t change it for the world. We live in a historical log cabin in a rural area, but close enough to a grocery store that it’s manageable (with 3 kids I go a lot). My husband runs his own business, and I help as a bookkeeper, marketer, and any paperwork catch-all while currently teaching the kids at home (hence my site title - "Diary of A Weary Mom"). My hope is that you might want to nod in agreement to some of my ramblings, and find something helpful, encouraging, and maybe even funny along the way.
My Motto: Mom to 3 kiddos; lover of the wind and little stinky feet - hoping that you find something to make your day a little bit brighter.
Motto: Mom to 3 kiddos; lover of the wind and little stinky feet - hoping that you find something to make your day a little bit brighter.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases and occasionally participate in other linking programs, but I will never link to anything I don't like.
Copyright © 2021 The Stay Sane Mom