5 Ways to Teach Your 5-year-old Responsibility
BY YASHY MURPHY
Photo © Yagi-Studio/Getty Images
Feb 23, 2018
We love to lament that the younger generation is growing up in a world filled with instant gratification and entitlement. Parents complain that they must do every little thing during those early years and those with kids under ten dream about the age of independence. It’s time we think about teaching kids the art of responsibility from a young age. We can’t just expect them to wake up as responsible adults.
There are simple ways to teach kids as young as five the art of responsibility. Here’s how!
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By age five, children can pick their own outfits, place dirty clothes in the laundry bin and tidy up after themselves. After long days at school, parents may help with these tasks to speed things up, but ensuring that kids continue to be responsible for these tasks will teach them that, no matter how tired they are, they must do their “jobs.”
2. Feeding the Family
Most five-year-olds will be excited to help out in the kitchen. There are many simple tasks they can assist with. It may cause a few delays or mishaps, but it’s a great way to teach them about processes, following instructions and math. It also lets them feel like they’re nourishing their family! Praise their efforts during the meal and point out the dishes they helped with.
Encourage kids to bring dirty dishes into the kitchen after every meal and take it up a notch by asking them to pack their own school lunches! Lay items on a platter and have them pick and choose what they want. You will still have control over the lunch menu, but they will feel empowered by getting to pick what to eat.
Instead of nagging them about homework, let them deal with the consequences if they don’t do it. Early on, ask if they have homework and say they should do it before dinner. After two or three weeks, leave the decision to them. Sit down and help them if they ask, but there’s no need to harp on the topic. Send a note to the teacher if you notice that they didn’t do the day’s tasks and mention that you’re trying to teach your child to be responsible for their homework. Give the teacher permission to take appropriate action as he or she deems fit.
Soon enough your child will realize that they are responsible for their own homework. Starting this practice at a young age means that when it’s time for the serious tests and hard work, they’re in a routine.
4. Dealing with Accidents
A five-year-old is bound to have spills or fights over the course of a day. Instead of getting angry or reprimanding them, teach them to deal with things and right the wrong. Spilled the cup of milk? Ask them to help you by bringing a towel to clean it up. Hurt their sibling by taking a toy? Ask them how they would feel if someone did it to them and what they should have done first. Offering guidance will help when they encounter similar issues when you’re not around. An honest heartfelt sorry means so much more than a forced one.
5. Dealing with Consequences
The biggest mistakes parents make is in issuing threats and never following through. The same goes for responsibility. If those threats don’t materialize when they don’t do the task, they will eventually call your bluff. If you say that they can’t play with their toys if they don’t clean up after the puzzle session, then ensure that is the case. These may seem like small battles, not worth the drama that is guaranteed to ensue, but it’s preparing them for the bigger consequences that could come their way at school and in life. Learning to be responsible for one’s actions is very important.
Teaching a young child to be responsible for some tasks will give them the confidence and flexibility to deal when things don’t go according to plan. These important life skills will help you raise caring and respectful citizens of the world.