Creative Child

Responsibilities: Why They’re Important to Your Child’s Happiness

by Deborah Song

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1. Make the bed.
In another article, I talked about how starting the day off this way puts us on good footing because we’ve accomplished something right off the bat. Explain to your child that making his own bed contributes to keeping the house tidy.

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2. Help load or unload items to and from the car.
The rush to school is one of the most hectic moments out of the day. Explain to your child that even the smallest amount of help during this chaotic hour would really help mom or dad out. Enlisting their help implicitly puts them on your team too, so they may be more obliged to listen.

3. Pick up toys and dump them in a bin.
Your child will quickly appreciate a clean play area and become more aware and accountable of the mess they make in the future.

4. Sweep the floor.
This can be one of those tasks that create more work for parents, but keep in mind it is a task they will one day need to learn. Besides, practice makes perfect.

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5. Fold the laundry.
Larger items may be hard to manage but they can help match socks or fold smaller towels.

6. Water the plants.
Your child will witness firsthand the magic of helping something grow.

7. Refill dry-food pet bowls or feed the fish.
If you have a pet, getting your child involved in taking care of it can be a very nurturing experience.

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8. Entertain a baby or younger sibling.
Not only does this help out mom and dad, but it also fosters bonding time.

9. Read to a younger sibling or friend.
The benefit here is symbiotic: your child will get to read in front of an audience, and her audience will get to hear a story from someone who is not a grown up, reinforcing the desire to learn to read.

10. Help wash fruits and vegetables.
There are plenty of ways kids can help in the kitchen. We’re often too busy to want their help, but if you can muster the patience, many kids end up cherishing this time.

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11. Set the table.
There are many options here. If your child is too young to handle sharp forks, let him place the napkins, placemats or empty cups.

12. Is your child encouraging?
Give her the responsibility to say one nice thing to someone in the family each day. 

13. Let your child massage you.
They’re stronger than you think. A short massage in the middle of your day can actually feel incredibly therapeutic and your child will beam at the chance of helping mommy or daddy feel better.

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14. Be the light monitor.
Put your child in charge of turning off unnecessary lights before they go to sleep, or making sure the nightlight gets turned off in the morning. Explain to your child that they are not only helping mom and dad save money but also helping the environment.

15. Announce dinner.
It often takes two or three or four announcements before everyone gathers for dinner. After they’ve helped you put a meal together, put your child in charge of getting everyone to the dinner table. It will help them work on their ability to influence others. 

16. Restock toilet paper.
Have your child make sure there is an extra toilet paper roll in each bathroom. The benefit will be realized by any child who is potty-trained.

Encourage responsibility early on, and as your kids get older they will be more willing to contribute at home and in the world. There’s no telling what they can do when they know their efforts are appreciated.

Deborah Song is a Canadian-born, Los Angeles-based writer, who obtained her master's in journalism from New York University. She is the founder of, and is passionate about helping parents find better work-life balance and proper support through community.

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