Posted , updated Jun 08, 2005.
You may wonder, “How can I get my child to be more responsible for brushing his teeth, picking up toys, or getting ready on time?” You may want your child to be responsible, but what does responsibility mean to you? Responsibility is not a clear-cut trait, but a blend of independence with helpfulness, consideration, and sensitivity to the feelings of others. A responsible person may be thought of as respectful, accountable for actions, and dependable.
Most parents believe that chores are a way of teaching responsibility. Even when parents don’t involve kids in chores---they think they should!
Children learn skills like being helpful, sharing and showing concern for others by participating in household tasks. We often start by teaching children to pick up after themselves. But they gain more “helping” skills when the work they do benefits others. Things like taking care of a pet, helping prepare meals, bringing diapers for a sibling are some examples of helping others.
Researchers have found children as young as 18 months offer to help with household tasks. When parents made a simple statement such as “Just look at those papers” toddlers would respond by picking things up. The key was leaving the task undone—so the child had the opportunity to do it. The amount of work performed is linked to the amount parents leave for children to do. The “offers” of help may become less frequent as children get older, so you might choose to start early!
There are benefits and challenges when involving your preschooler in household chores. You will have to make your own choices. But if you want your youngster to help out, you may wish to start when they show interest—which often is before their 2nd birthday!
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