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How can I give my child more responsibility?

Lynne Kenney
Psychology
First, you provide your child with the opportunity to exhibit a greater level of skill than he has previously. You might make the conscious choice to stop picking up your son’s underwear from the bathroom floor and expect him by age 3 or 3 ½ to put them in the laundry basket himself (He’ll feel like such a big boy!). You start to break down specific tasks and activities of daily living and allow your child to do more for himself. These are often small tasks for an adult, but brand new and perhaps even exciting to a child.

As you clean your home or fold the laundry, begin identifying small tasks that you can give your child so that he can feel more sense of accomplishment and mastery. Don’t worry too much if he gets it wrong at first – he will master his new skill quickly.

By the time a child is 5, he is ready to hear, “You are really growing up. You want to do many things like play at the park, ride your bike on your own, and stay up later. You may be ready to do those things, but with independence comes responsibility.” These are big concepts for a child, but ones which they are primed for and often quite ready to understand. It happens with small steps.

Your 8-year-old has better dexterity, is taller and can think through tasks better than a 3-year-old. He can help you fold laundry and put it away in open drawers. He can set the table, clear the table and he may even love vacuuming. Your job is providing the opportunity to complete these tasks, but his experience will develop solid skills for a lifetime. As always, don’t expect perfection and give credit for a thoughtful effort.

Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine

Your job is to provide your child with the opportunity to exhibit a greater level of skill than he/she has previously by role modeling for him/her how to complete the big tasks by first breaking them down to smaller tasks and taking pride in completing them. As your child thrives in assuming the higher level of responsibility, his/her experience will develop solid skills for a lifetime. As always, don’t expect perfection and give credit for a thoughtful effort.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.