Teaching Your Student More Responsibility as They Move Up a Grade

Teaching your student responsibility is essential if you want them to grow into productive and capable adults. As responsible children—and eventually adults—they’ll learn to do what’s expected of them and accept the consequences of their actions, whether they be positive or negative.

Responsibility isn’t something that happens magically; as a parent, you have to actively teach value to your student as they grow. Here are a few ways to instill responsibility in your child based on their age and what they’re mentally and emotionally equipped to handle.

Assigning Responsibility Gradually

Children learn responsibility gradually—just as they do with other skills. There’s no miraculous point in their life where a switch goes off, and all of a sudden, they’re responsible human beings. You can start teaching them simple responsibility—such as grooming, cleaning, and self-care—at an early age, and increase their accountability as they get older.

Here are some examples of grade-appropriate chores and lessons children can take on.

Pre-K

  • Washing their hands after the restroom or before a meal
  • Brushing their teeth
  • Choosing what to wear (within reason)
  • Deciding which toys or treats to share
  • Picking out which toys to play with
  • Selecting which book to read before bed
  • Cleaning up after an accident like spilled milk
  • Putting their toys away at the end of the day
  • Putting their dirty clothes into a hamper at the end of the day
  • Turning lights off when they leave a room
  • Feeding themselves (actually putting the food into their own mouth)
  • Saying please and thank you

Kindergarten

All the above, plus:

  • Setting the table with dishes and utensils
  • Making their beds
  • Filling the pet’s bowl with food
  • Decorating and organizing their rooms (within reason)
  • Serving their own food (you choose the selection, they can decide how much to eat)
  • Deciding who to be friends with and what social events to attend

Elementary School

All the above, plus:

  • Showering and washing their hair
  • Combing and styling their hair
  • Clearing the table after a meal
  • Making their own snacks or simple meals throughout the day
  • Putting away their clean, laundered clothes
  • Washing dishes or loading the dishwasher
  • Sweeping and/or vacuuming
  • Tracking their school assignments and completing their homework (knowing to ask for help when needed)
  • Getting their backpack ready the night before, or for students in online charter schools, setting up their work space the night before
  • Helping to pack their own lunch for school
  • Deciding how they want to spend their free time
  • Choosing what physical activity (sport, dance, etc.) to engage in
  • Determining how they’re going to spend their allowance, including learning to save a portion
  • Cleaning up after a pet
  • Ordering for themselves at a restaurant

Middle School

All the above, plus:

  • Doing their own laundry
  • Helping with meal preparation
  • Weekly chores such as mowing the lawn, taking out the garbage, etc.
  • Tidying up and/or cleaning shared living spaces like the living room, kitchen, etc.
  • Helping care for younger siblings
  • Staying home alone
  • Choosing and packing their own lunch
  • Visiting neighborhood friends or walking to nearby locations (school, cafes, parks, etc.)
  • Walking their dog or engaging with physical activity with their pet on a daily basis

High School

All the above, plus:

  • Getting themselves up in the morning
  • Babysitting younger siblings
  • Taking public transportation or driving themselves around
  • Going out in the evening with friends
  • Earning their own money (through a job or babysitting)
  • Creating their own after-school and weekend schedules, taking extracurriculars, jobs, and family obligations into account
  • Making temporary changes to their appearance (dyeing/cutting their hair, makeup, etc.)

Ultimately, as kids get older, you can increase their responsibility, and more often than not, they will rise to meet your expectations.

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