Teach Your Kids Responsibility

Pull Out the Big-Kid Card

If you’ve never specifically given chores to your kids before, they’re going to wonder: Why is Mom making me empty the sink or set the table now? So appeal to their desire to be more grown-up. “It can be as simple as saying, ‘Now that you’re 5, you’re stronger, taller and more careful. I bet you could put away the washed dinner plates.’


Pitch in Together

Sure, you’re not always going to want to do your chores at the same time as your children do theirs. But saying something like, “Help me straighten up the house. I’ll do my bedroom, and you do yours” will help get a reluctant kid started. Young children seem to respond better when household tasks are presented as a shared family responsibility.


Think Like Mary Poppins

That iconic nanny knew that chores don’t have to be boring. “By incorporating some fun into tasks, you can improve your kid’s attitude about helping with housework,” says Lea Schneider, author of Growing Up Organized: A Mom-to-Mom Guide. Put on some music and encourage them to sing or dance while they’re cleaning up, or create a contest to keep them motivated.


Start a Reward System

Responsibility should be associated with both rewards and consequences. Say this to your child:

“This is your reward for doing your schoolwork and homework.”

And by the same token:

“This is the consequence for not finishing your homework.”

It’s sometimes helpful for parents to sit with their kids and draw up a list of consequences.