Parenting can feel like you’re living in the here-and-now, just trying to make it through each day (and sometimes each hour). Certain days I tell myself, “If I can only make it to bedtime!” Anyone else ever have those days?!
Despite these feelings and thoughts, I constantly try and remind myself about my children’s future. It is essential for us to not just focus on today but what is to come. There are behaviors and attributes that, if we want our children to have in the future, it is our job NOW to start teaching them. One of these is responsibility.
Being part of a family means that each person within that family has certain tasks that they are responsible for. That way, each member takes some of the load and doesn’t leave it all for one person. It is important to be there for your child if they need help or guidance, but it is not necessary to do everything for them when they are capable of doing some things for themselves.
Obviously, there are tasks that are for adults or older children, but there are many things that young children can participate in. Here are some examples of the responsibilities that our 2.5 year old twins have:
- Putting shoes away when we get home
- Picking out their dishes for meals
- Putting dishes in the sink when finished
- Cleaning up toys when done playing
- Putting milk cups in the fridge
- Putting dirty clothes in the laundry room
- Throw their trash in the garbage
- Help parent clean up a mess if they make it
- Be excited! If you are upbeat and enthusiastic about it, it is more likely that your child will be also.
- Sing songs – make up your own song, make up your own words to a familiar tune, or add your child’s name to the song. From a young age children recognize their names and they love to hear it!
- Make a game out of it – how many toys can you pick up at once? Who can pick up the most toys the fastest? Try and shoot the balls into the bin instead of placing them in.
- Offer praise. Give high fives, hugs, kisses, words of encouragement/praise.
- Be consistent. Obviously, there are times where it’s faster for you to get the job done but try and be consistent about what you expect your children to do.