When you start feeling like it’s time to stop baby-ing your baby (whom, despite being your baby forever, is in fact already a functioning little kid), it might be high time to start teaching him or her a few responsibilities to get him or her started in life. There really comes a point when kids need to start getting their feet wet, especially since Mommy and Daddy will not always be there to pick up after them and clean up their mess. However, some kids might be afraid to take on bigger roles just yet, so here are a few simple activities that you can use to help them get on their way in the big leagues!
With the use of a simple illustration board or whiteboard, a few colorful markers, and some tape, you can already make chore assignments fun for the both of you. List down a few manageable chores for your child to accomplish within the week, such as fixing his bed upon waking up, brushing his teeth by himself, or bringing his plate to the sink after eating. Make a grid or table that he can check off right after accomplishing the task, and pretty soon, the feeling of being responsible for a particular task will stick. Granted, the time may come that he will start feeling lazy or lax about it, so as parents, you have to be firm. Grit and hardwork are instilled in children when they may not like to do something (such as homework) but still push themselves to achieve it anyway.
Play areas in malls often have these work stations where they can pretend to have jobs, and these seemingly trivial activities do have a way of teaching children what adults do at work, and the consequences of not being successful at it. You can even do this at home by encouraging imaginative play, but setting limits and goals alongside it. As an example, your child can be a baker, and you can give him a child-friendly butter knife and allow him to spread peanut butter on a piece of bread for your family on Sunday. This could be a fun and rewarding task that will enable him to feel responsible for your family’s breakfast, and instill confidence once done right.
Don’t discount the magic of sports, and how it can organically teach a child the value of responsibility, hard work, and yes, confidence as well. Encourage your child to join team sports, and this will help her realize how she matters in the big scheme of things. Don’t reward laziness, and she is bound to find out for herself what happens when she doesn’t show up for trainings. Solo sports such as golf or wall climbing can also encourage her to work hard and be diligent. At the end of the day, trophy or no trophy, your child will surely be winning with endorphins anyway!
If your daughter knows how to keep asking you to buy stuff for her, then it’s also only right to gently introduce the value of money. You can do this by making the idea of saving up fun and fulfilling in the long term. You can do an old school piggy bank, or try other saving alternatives. Peso Sense has a parent-child money challenge calendar, wherein the parent simply has to match whatever amount the child can drop into the bank, and this is on a weekly basis. Allow her to set a goal, such as half of the savings can go to her personal bank account, and half can go to a birthday present for herself. This can teach her to be responsible enough to save a little bit from her school allowance, and the fact that you are helping her achieve her goals, will give her confidence in knowing that she is being supported.
Kids often learn how to make paper clocks at school that they can play around with. You can put this up in your child’s room and discuss what time they have to incorporate into their “schedule”. Make a paper clock specifically for the time to get up, time for eating breakfast, leaving for school, and bedtime. This can be a helpful way to remind themselves when to do things, and this can be most helpful with kids that tend to move at a snail’s pace and end up becoming late for everything.
It’s never too early to start teaching kids about considering their personal safety with high regard. The simple tasks of looking before they cross the road should be at the top of their minds, and they can already be made responsible enough to buckle their own seatbelts by the age of four or five. Parents should also explain the value of wearing a seatbelt so that it doesn’t just become a “fun” exercise. My daughter would often point to the seatbelt warning or diagram inside the car, and would ask me why there was a “flying baby” on it. I explained that accidents can happen if they don’t wear their seatbelt properly. After knowing and accepting this, she then ended up reminding other passengers to wear their seatbelts when they get into our car.
Since tidying up is such a big deal these days, thanks to Marie Kondo, enable your child to be responsible for bringing objects back to their “proper homes”. This involves assigning drawers/baskets/cubby holes for specific toys, and she has to be the one to place the toy in its home after playtime. Your child can also learn responsibility through tidying up by teaching her to pick up her own trash and not doing it for her. Parents must also be firm in teaching these values so as to really drive the point home. Remember, you are setting your child up to succeed in life…not setting yourself up to be at her beck and call forever!