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Home Responsibilities for Children

By Marjory Barksdale and Susan Tracy McDaniel In today’s changing society, children are challenged to become “working partners” with their parents. Challenges such as this can be met in many ways: mutual respect, sharing of opinions, acceptance of decisions, cooperative setting of goals, standards, or limitations, and permitting certain rights and privileges.

As the child learns the benefits of order resulting from cooperation, he begins to view himself as a person who is capable of making a contribution to others. Growth in this area is best acquired developmentally, whereby the child becomes useful and needed at early age, with the expectation of becoming more self-reliant and independent as time passes. The adult’s personal experiences and situations may lead him to find many ways in which a child can contribute. Sometimes parents, aware of the need for giving the child responsibility, are stymied at knowing what to do and what to expect. The following list is intended to meet this need. The list is cumulative. As the child advances in age or grade he can continue to maintain past responsibilities as well as assuming new ones. Sometimes a child no longer finds it fun to complete a task once it is no longer a new challenge. Tasks that are the child’s own personal responsibility, such as makinghis bed, doinghis laundry, and tidying his room, we should no longer do for him. Tasks that help the whole family may be rotated, or a choice of chores may be given. The list, meant to suggest possibilities, is only a starting point subject to the situation and creativity of the adult observing the child. In training for these responsibilities, it may be wiser to proceed gradually. First, establish or strengthen the relationship, and then through friendly discussions, the adult and the child togethermay determine the manner in which the child can become a contributing member of the family.


Before assigning duties, it would be helpful to keep the following principles in mind: 1. Children have rights as well as responsibilities. If these rightsas well as arbitrarily and impulsively withdrawn by the adult, the child may feel dominated or revengeful and will resist any efforts to elicit his cooperation. 2. Children should be consulted aboutthe jobs that need to be done. After they have helped identify the work, they help set the standards for work, and be involved in the evaluation of the completed job. 3. Allow the children choices in which jobs they would like to do. To do nothing is NOT an acceptable choice.They follow throughwith the choice or acceptthe consequences. 4. Allow the consequences to follow logically from the uncompleted job. Do not discuss before hand what will happen if someone does not fulfill the commitment. 5. Set appropriate time limits for completion of a task. If the child participates in setting these limits, he will be more willingto meet them. I ask, “How much time do you need?”. Use of a kitchen timer helps. Some timers can be clipped to the child’s pocket. 6. Vary the tasks.Children become easily bored with the same chores. They like new challenges. 7. Children like to move on to more challenging work; new privileges that they can take on now that they are bigger/stronger/older. 8. Use common sensein the number of tasks expected of each child.He may stage a “sitdown” strike if he feels used. 9. Remember that you are the model of “order”. Do not expectan orderliness and cleanliness from children that you do not expect of yourself. 10. Examine your personal standards. Perhaps you are a perfectionist, you feel uncomfortable if things are slightly out of order,or are concerned about what others think. Learn to accept the house as a place of activity for family members, not as a reflection of your personal worth. 11. Probably most difficult: never do for the child what he can do for himself.


HOME RESPONSIBILTIES FOR CHILDREN From an article by Marjory Barksdale and Susan Tracy Home Responsibilities for Children Ages 18 Months to Two-and-a-Half 1. Joins in with adult in putting away toys (adult must limit the number of toys, and remain cheerful while modeling picking up). 2. Fulfills some simple requests, such as, “Would you pleasethrow this in the trash?”or “Please put this away” (adult points to the location). 3. Participates (imperfectly) in household tasksas interested, usuallynot yet completing the task. May attempt to sweep, mop, wipe table, set table, vacuum, etc. 4. Participates more and more in dressing self (adult provideseasy-to-manage clothing). Undressing comes before dressing. 5. Loads washing machine and dryer, pushesstart button. 6. Diapers are phasedout by the second birthday,and the child uses the bathroom with occasional mistakes. 7. Feeds himself independently, using fork, spoon,small (less than 8 oz.) pitcher, and small (approximately 6 oz.) cup without a lid. 8. Participates in simple food preparation, such as slicingsoft foods, peeling,and spreading. 9. Arranges flowers in a small vase. Home Responsibilities for the Two-and-a-Half Year Old 1. Pick up toys as finished band put in proper place (adult provides low shelves and containers for each item). 2. Put books and magazines in a rack. 3. Sweep the floor or sidewalk with a small broom, use dustpan with help. 4. Place napkins, plates,and silverware on table (not correctly at first). 5. Clean up what they drop after eating.Cleans up spills. 6. Choose a snackor breakfast from two or three options. 7. Clear dish from the table,scrapes leftovers, loads dishwasher, helps wash dishes. 8. Independently uses the bathroom, washes hands, brushesteeth and hair. 9. Dresses independently exceptfor small buttonsor ties. 10. Puts away groceries and dishes in low cabinets. 11. Involved in food preparation daily. 12. Uses simple manners, such as “Please”, “Thank you”, and “Excuse me”. Home Responsibilities for Three- and Four-Year-Old Children 1. Setting the table. 2. Putting groceries away. 3. Help with grocery list and shopping. 4. Polish shoes and clean up after. 5. Follow a schedule to feed pets. 6. Assists with work in yard and garden. 7. Sweep, mop, and vacuum. 8. Make own bed (keep linens simple). 9. Helps load dishwasher and wash dishes. 10. Dust furniture. 11. Prepare food and learn simple recipes. 12. Share toys with friends.

13. Getting the mail.

14. Tell parent his whereabouts before going out to play.

15. Should be able to play without constant adult supervision.

16. Polish silver.

17. Wash and polish car.

18. Sharpen pencils.

19. Enjoys a sense of accomplishment upon completing taskson a chore chart.


Home Responsibilities of the Five- and Six-Year-Old Children

1. Help with meal planning and grocery shopping.

2. Help prepare lunchto take to school.

3. Set the table.

4. Peel carrots and potatoes.

5. Involved in more challenging preparation of food, including bakingand cooking, with assistance.

6. Make bed and straighten room.

7. Choose clothing the night before,dresses self.

8. Ties shoes.

9. Attends to personalhygiene.

10. Fold clothes and puts them away.

11. Answer the phone properly.

12. Yard work and gardening.

13. Feed pets and cleantheir living area.

14. Assist in caringfor younger sibling.

15. At busy times,the child may offer, “How can I help?”


Home Responsibilities for Ages 6 to 12

1. All of the above with increasing challenge.

2. Prepare a simple meal independently.

3. Care for own belongings.

4. Organize belongings.

5. Earn money for specialjobs, perhaps receivean allowance.

6. Beginning money management: saving, giving, spending.

7. Increasing thoughtfulness toward others, appropriate manners.


Home Responsibilities for Teens

1. Earn money through jobs such as helping neighborsand babysitting.

2. Create and followown budget, including giving.

3. Participate in familybudgeting.

4. Help with home repairand maintenance.

5. Yard work and mowing the lawn.

6. Maintain respectful familyrelationships.

7. Take on greaterresponsibility for his or her ownlife and choices,gaining independence while maintaining safety and communication with parents.

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