Teaching your kids to be responsible humans has its ups or downs, but you can make it more fun when you have a few tricks up your sleeves. (Psst. You don’t even have to tell them it’s a lesson!)
When you’re standing in the middle of a bedroom that looks more like the site of a natural disaster than a living space, it can be tough to remember that part of parenting is to teaching kids responsibility. Sometimes it feels easier to do the job yourself, and growl at the kids about it later. Unfortunately, the short-term gratification of getting the job done quickly isn’t going to help your kids learn for the long-term.
Let Them Grocery Shop and Cook a Meal
Cooking can be a chore, even for adults, but you can make it a fun activity by getting the kids involved. Have them decide on a meal they want to prepare. Have them find the recipe, write down the ingredients they need and hit the store with a budget. Try letting them do most of the shopping, helping as needed.
Once they have their ingredients, it’s time to cook. If they are old enough, let them try to prepare the meal on their own. If not, you can let them help you with age-appropriate parts of the dinner prep.
Plant a Garden
Gardens are a great way to teach responsibility. They provide a visual and physical way to see success. Let your kids pick out a vegetable or plant that they’d like to care for and challenge them to keep it alive. Help them learn about their chosen plant, including what type of light it needs, how much watering, and any other special attention.
If you don’t have enough room in a yard, you can plant window boxes or small planters that sit on the porch, deck, or balcony.
Budget with Monopoly Money
Money is a simple topic, but kids don’t always understand the concept, even if you explain it a million times. This concept is especially true if you pay for groceries and other bills with a debit or credit card. One fun way to teach kids about responsibility with money is to grab your Monopoly money and dole out some cash. Give each kid a budget list that includes items like groceries, housing, car payment, entertainment, and charity. Then let them divide their money up and see how far they can make it go.
Adopt a Pet
Having your child care for a pet is a quick way to instill a sense of responsibility. It’s a big commitment, so before adopting a pet, make sure the family is on board for the long haul.
There are plenty of ways kids can be responsible when caring for a pet, including walking a dog, bathing, feeding, cleaning out the litter box, washing out the fish tank, and making time to play with their new pal.
As a bonus, having a pet can reduce stress and encourage healthy behaviors (like walking), according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Let Them Decorate and Organize Their Room
If you’re tired of cleaning up the kid’s bedroom, give them more responsibility for how it functions.
Start by reducing the clutter in their room. Have your children pick out toys, books, stuffed animals, clothes, and other items they can donate to charity. Letting them choose what gets donated lets them feel involved and may stave off some of the arguments.
After they’ve decluttered, ask them what would make it easier to keep their space tidy. Ask them how they want to put their furniture and decorate the walls. Make sure they know they are responsible for keeping the room tidy and organized.
As your children get older, learning responsibility begins to affect their ability to function at school and on the job. Helping them learn to manage small things around the home will make transitioning to more demanding responsibilities much easier for everyone in the house!