Taking on responsibility is a big step in growing up, but it’s not necessarily something that happens all at once. Most kids start learning how to be responsible from when they are babies, and most will continue to do so well into their teenage years and even adulthood.
It’s important to know when your child is ready to handle more responsibility, though, so you can have confidence in your child’s ability to do what needs to be done without feeling overburdened or unsupported by their parents.
1) Taking Care of Pets
A great way to understand responsibility at a young age is through caring for pets. While younger children might need an adult or older sibling to help, they can play a huge role in pet care and training. As kids grow older, they will feed, walk and even train their pets independently.
It is recommended to ask questions like “How would you feel if your pet was left alone?” or “How do you think your animal feels when left alone?”. These are good questions to ask if you want to gauge whether your child has empathy for other living creatures—including humans! One study found that teaching children about responsible pet ownership led to decreased levels of antisocial behavior.
Please don’t rely on your kids to discipline their pets, especially pups. But if your kids are too young to handle such a task, they can still have a furry friend, but their responsibilities should be limited to just feeding, walking them outside, and sometimes bathing them. The best way to ensure that the pets will grow to their full potential is by enrolling them in a puppy training class to learn to socialize with other dogs. Finally, make sure you set rules around pet ownership early; it’s much easier to do before you own an animal than after!
2) Handling Money
If you’re a parent, take a deep breath. One of the parents’ top concerns regarding their kids and Money is teaching them how to use a credit card responsibly. What’s more, research shows that children who learn about Money from a young age are more financially responsible than adults. It’s a must to start preparing your child for budgeting and finances before turning 18.
All they need is supervision. While there are no definitive rules on how or when you should teach your child about bills and budget, here are some tips to get started.
- Remind them that Money doesn’t grow on trees
- Let them know that it takes hard work to make Money
- Give them an allowance (not only will it reinforce proper financial habits, but it will show them firsthand how a salary works)
3) Changing A Light Bulb
It seems simple, but you will be surprised at how many adults don’t know how to change a light bulb. If your child wants to start taking on some responsibility, one of the best ways to do so is by practicing these skills independently.
Show them how to safely unplug and replug light bulbs and get them started on household projects. Just remember: it may seem small, but teaching kids responsibility goes a long way in helping them become functioning adults.
4) Cleaning Their Room and Doing Chores
While taking care of your home, it’s essential to make sure everyone pitches in with chores. Start teaching your child how to help out around the house by assigning age-appropriate tasks responsibly. If they want more responsibility, offer them bigger jobs to earn them more privileges. For example, if they’re going to stay up later, ask them to do their laundry or clean their room at night as a trade-off.
You’ll also want to make sure they understand how to use your household equipment responsibly. For example, if they want a TV in their room, discuss internet usage and screen time limits. Ask them to treat their bedroom like a haven, not a hangout spot. Make sure they get enough sleep by setting a bedtime and encouraging good sleep habits. This will help them stay healthy and out of trouble— and it will prepare them for more significant responsibilities in life.
5) Help Without Being Asked
Parents should help their children before they’re asked. When our kids know that we are willing to drop everything and help, they grow more confident in what they can accomplish. Children who know that there are no limits to their parents’ love will take risks because their parents will catch them if things go wrong.
These five signs can help you determine if your child is ready to take on a new level of responsibility. If you’re not sure, discuss it with them or seek guidance from your pediatrician. With any luck, your children will be eager to show their maturity and readiness—but don’t feel bad if they need more time!
Every kid develops at their own pace. Work closely with them as they go through these milestones, and know that there are no mistakes in parenting; everyone learns along the way.