Tasks Children Can Do to Learn Responsibility

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Looking for ways to promote responsibility at home? Here's a handy list of ideas to get you started.

18 months–3 years old

  • Turn off lights while being carried
  • Carry in the newspaper or mail
  • Get her/his own cereal or snack from kid-friendly containers
  • Pick up toys and clothes
  • Wash tables/counters with a damp sponge
  • Put a soiled/wet diaper in the diaper pail
  • Wash vegetables, tear lettuce, stir
  • Help set the table
  • Feed and water pets
  • Help clean up after meals and play
  • Wake up siblings
  • Run simple errands around the house
  • Help put groceries away
  • Carry in light groceries
  • Put her/his own clothes away
  • Take clothes out of the dryer
  • Help make beds
  • Put plastic dishes in the dishwasher
  • Make salads
  • Bring recyclables to the garage
  • Lead family prayer
  • Scramble eggs, make toast
  • Tell you when the traffic light turns green
  • Clear dishes from the table
  • Seal and stamp envelopes

4–6 years old

All of the above, plus:

  • Help find grocery items in the store
  • Help fold towels and wash
  • Pour things
  • Give you a back rub or foot rub
  • Help measure ingredients
  • Count goods at the grocery store
  • Sort white and dark clothes for laundry
  • Water plants
  • Help vacuum, sweep, and dust
  • Take library books/videos to/from the car
  • Help younger siblings
  • Help plant a garden
  • Wash the floor
  • Put dishes in the dishwasher
  • Measure soap for the dishwasher and start the cycle
  • Be responsible for compost buckets
  • Haul things in a wagon
  • Assist in meal planning
  • Make a simple meal
  • Empty dishwasher, stack dishes on the counter
  • Rake leaves for short periods of time
  • Help wash pets
  • Prepare her/his own lunch
  • Walk well-behaved pets
  • Carry in firewood
  • Start to manage their own money

7–10 years old

All of the above, plus:

  • Get self up in the morning
  • Help wash and vacuum the car
  • Wash dishes
  • Fix snacks and light meals
  • Help read recipes
  • Run the washing machine and dryer
  • Change sheets on a bed
  • Help with projects around the house
  • Address and stuff envelopes
  • Read to younger siblings
  • Bathe younger siblings

11–15 years old

All of the above, plus:

  • Babysit
  • Cook meals
  • Buy groceries from a list
  • Wash windows
  • Change light bulbs
  • Make appointments
  • Order out for the family
  • Wax the car
  • Mow the lawn
  • Operate saws for home projects
  • Help in a parent’s business

Adapted with permission from Redirecting Children’s Behavior by Kathryn J. Kvols (Parenting Press Inc., Seattle, WA). 1998.
 

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