Ages & Stages

How to Teach Your Children Responsibility

October 15

There are four steps to teaching your children responsibility.   Train, supervise, delegate, and follow-up.  Before you give up and decide to just do the housework yourself {which you’ve been doing all along}, let me convince you to share the load.

Teach Your Children Responsibility

Train your children.

Train your children by first demonstrating the chore.  Show them how it’s to be done. You can train your children to clean, change out the laundry and properly bathe themselves. While you can’t leave a little one unattended during bath time, you can teach him or her to fold laundry, sweep the floor, and other household chores while you are doing another task in the same room.  Grab that list of tasks you made — you didn’t procrastinate, did you?? You can now teach those tasks to your children!

Supervise your children.

After you teach them how to do the task, then you must give them an opportunity to do it under your supervision a time or two.  Don’t do it for them.  Talk them through it.  Don’t let them convince you that they can’t do it.  Children can do more than we give them credit.  A 2-year old can help you make his bed, clean up a spill and help pick up his toys.   A 14-year old could be preparing, or at least starting, some of the meals while you change out of your work clothes.  {Click here for a printable age-appropriate chore list.}

Don’t expect perfection, just the best for their experience and age.  My son, 22 months old, likes to sweep the kitchen floor and wipe up spills he’s made in the floor.  No, it’s not perfect, but it’s a start!  He loves for us to clap when he’s finished, and he claps along with us. Even if you can do it better, please don’t.

Delegate the responsibility.

Once they’ve shown they can do it, then let them! Hand the chore over to them permanently.  Some parents choose to rotate chores on a weekly, monthly or quarterly rotation.  Some parents choose to leave that chore with that children until they leave home.  I personally prefer the first option because it teaches the children responsibility for more than just a few chores.  It prepares them for life outside their childhood home.

Have the chores handy for them to reference.  You can make a chore chart, use a phone app, or come up with your own system.  My children always liked having a checklist of what their chores.  There’s satisfaction in marking a task complete.

Follow-up but don’t take the responsibility back

Check on your children.  Make sure they are doing the chores you assigned to them.  This is my downfall.  I assign chores to my children, then I end up doing it myself. Either they just “forget” to do it, or they argue about doing it. It may be easier to just do it yourself (or leave it undone altogether), but it’s not better in the long run.  You are teaching your child disobedience and feeding their desires to be lazy and procrastinate.  I know from experience that it produces lazy and argumentative teenagers.

Be consistent with what you expect of them.  Make sure you have consequences for not doing the chores.  The reward, of course, if being able to do those things they like to do, such as playing video games, going to friends’ houses, etc.

In summary, you can teach your children responsibility in four steps: train, supervise, delegate, and follow-up. It’s better to start teaching responsibility young, but it’s important to start now, regardless of your child’s age.  Teach them something new every week.  This prepares them for life outside their childhood home.  While they are doing their chores, you will have some time to invest in time managementfriendships, or having a little fun.

Do your children have assigned chores, or does the family have a scheduled time to work together to get the house tidy?  If not, what can you teach your children?


  • Reply
    October 15 at 3:25 pm

    This is great encouragement! I just bought a chore chart for my son today. I know that the hardest part will be follow through as it’s just so much easier to do it myself! I try to think of it as an investment in my future…someday he will really be able to do these chores well and make my life easier!

  • Reply
    October 15 at 10:38 pm

    My children don’t have assigned chores yet, but I do follow the steps you have listed when I want them to complete a task. The follow-up is definitely the hardest part. I agree that sometimes it is just easier (and faster) to do it myself. I have to remember to take a step back and let them do it.

  • Reply
    Michele Ash
    October 16 at 4:36 pm

    My kids do not have chores yet (nor do they get any sort of allowance)! I know that I’m going to have to get them involved in the daily household cleaning/straightening up. I have told them, however, that they HAVE to clean up after themselves. Meaning, If they have a snack in the kitchen, to make sure the table is cleaned and any dishes and/or utensils used are put into the sink. Also, I have told them that after their bath and/or shower, they are to throw the towel into the basket and any dirty clothes go in the basket as well, no leaving them on the floor! When they brush their teeth, wash their hands, etc. they are to make sure they clean the sink up so that there is no toothpaste stuck to anything! And, the last one is their bedrooms! They are to make sure all dirty laundry is in the basket, if not, it doesn’t get washed! They are to make their beds (the best they can) and keep all clean clothes off of the floor! The rule is that they are not allowed to eat or drink in their bedrooms! They do an ok job at what I’ve told them. I want to step in and do it right by myself, however, I don’t! I follow up with a comment on how well or not so well they did. I agree that teaching your children some responsibilities at an early age will help them in the long run be prepared to live outside the home! This is great advice and I loved reading your review. Thanks so much for the information (I just may be getting a chore list together yet!). Thanks again, Michele 🙂

  • Reply
    Michelle - The Happiness Blogger
    October 17 at 2:09 pm

    These are the same steps managers are taught to use when developing employees! Some things are universal, I guess 🙂

  • Reply
    31 Days To A Better Life – Steps For Living Life On Purpose | Short And Sweet Moments
    October 25 at 10:11 am

    […] 15: How To Teach Your Child Responsibility by […]

  • Reply
    November 3 at 7:19 pm

    Thanks so much for linking up to Teach Me Tuesday last week. You are very much appreciated. Starting this week, we will no longer be visiting you, instead we will be pinning each and every link. We want to give you more exposure! Hope to see you again this week!!

  • Reply
    31 Days To A Better Life! Steps For Living Life On Purpose - by Michelle Westbrook // Realistic Happiness
    September 11 at 11:21 am

    […] Day 15: How To Teach Your Children Responsibility […]

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