Practical Ways to Teach Personal Responsibility for Toddlers

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Cam and I have been thinking a lot lately about how to teach our kids personal responsibility and make it fun since they're little. I have the HUGE blessing right now of having Cam home part of the week with us when he's not in school, but on the days it's me flying solo with the kids, my mind is pretty much always trying to come up with more ideas to get our toddlers to help out since I'm so often holding, feeding, changing our newborn and don't have enough hands. Some days I'm good about implementing them (thanks, coffee!) and others I'm tired and admit, I am a slacker.

Training toddlers is hard work -- but it's amazing to watch how good it is for them. When John or Gracie tackle something, or don't do something they know they're not supposed to, and we affirm them and tell them what a good job they've done, they beam with pride and walk a little bit more confidently. These are a few practical things we've been working on... though I'd really love to hear your ideas and what works in your homes!


Picking up all of the toys before bedtime. Our kids thrive on their routines. They know we eat dinner as a family and then it's time to pick up, take a bath and then bedtime reading together. It's a battle every night getting them to eat their dinner, but it's become FAR less of one with picking up. Some nights John Shea even starts without us asking, which makes Cam and I high five. We have a huge basket as a catch-all for most of the toys and John has another one just for his blocks and legos. I put Gracie in charge of putting away the books... she's got like a 50/50 track record but we're getting there;) I love going to bed with a clean home - it makes the mornings sweeter and more peaceful, and I want our kids to learn that Mom and Dad are not going to be cleaning up after them their whole lives. So if they take something out, they need to be the one to pick it up at the end of the day. Disciplining does not come naturally to me (it would be sooo much easier to just do it all myself and not follow through with what we've set in motion) so I'm being trained right along with them.

Clearing the table. Right now John Shea puts his dishes in the sink after dinner, but I want him to start clearing the whole table... work in progress... :)

Help Changing Diapers.  Grace is usually great about throwing away hers and Georgia's dirty diapers. Woohoo! She runs to the garbage like she's holding a special package and looks very accomplished after finishing that task. Cracks us up! Today she tried for the first time to help changing Georgia's diaper... which was interesting, haha. That'll be something we'll work on later on.

Brushing Teeth. Thankfully this one is easy. They both love brushing their teeth!

Helping me at the market & in the kitchen.  John Shea is my favorite little person to take to buy produce. He picks out vegetables and fruit and when I have the energy, it's fun to have he or Grace watching how I cook with it for dinner. John is my resident sous chef. That usually means I have spilled herbs/flour/you name it all over but I have to remind myself to get over the mess!!

Vacuuming.  I have no idea what the fascination is with the vacuum, but, I'll take it! John especially is good with the vacuum or wiping up a mess under the table. Not always, but we're getting there! They're both also fascinated by doing laundry... though judging by them pouring a bottle of detergent all over the floor and mixing the clean loads I'd just done with the dirty... um, we are not there yet. Not even close. Ha.


Also...

I just read an awesome post from my friend Anna's blog for encouraging independence which inspired me to finally write these thoughts down! My brother-in-law sent us this article which was an excellent read. My friend Sondra just gave me the book, And Then I Had Kids by Susan Alexander Yates. It's Scripture-based and a fast, funny, refreshing read.

Please share any ideas you have!
Happy Wednesday!

(photos from a rainy day this weekend)

14 comments:

  1. I just love this post, and your blog in general! Wish I could contribute, but as you know - Steff and I don't have kids yet ;) I do think it's soo important, though, to talk about as much as you can before, and obviously later on when you have kids. Love that you're thinking about how you can help your kids take on more personal responsibility.

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    1. Thank you my friend!! Oh yes I know, but maybe one day ;) Hope you're doing well! And hope we'll get to see you while we're living here !

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  2. These are the cutest captures Amanda! And I love your points here. I don't know why I didn't think of many of these early on in my motherhood! We have this little vacuum that my boys LOVE to use but going to have to let them try the big one;) You and Cam are doing such an incredible job raising these sweet peas. Much love!

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    1. Thanks, Anna! I am so thankful whenever you share about motherhood - you always give me something new to consider... like iron sharpens iron.

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  3. Fabulous ideas! I was just talking to my husband about the need to implement personal responsibilities for our oldest. I have started with the clearing of the table, and you are right it is working! I just remind myself it is a process!

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    1. Ahh it totally is! And I have to remind myself how important consistency is - esp on my tired days!! One of the best pieces of advice I've ever gotten from a mother of 5 grown children is to be consistent no matter how hard it is.

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  4. Love this post! It's such a struggle to let them learn and be independent with chores and personal responsibilities. And you're right - the look on their faces when they do a good job is unparallel! My 3 year old fed the dogs all by herself the other morning, and it was so much better to take the extra few minutes to explain and supervise rather than hurriedly do it myself.
    https://hotmesscoolday.wordpress.com

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    1. Yes, you are so right !! Though that is my temptation every single day - just quickly get the task done myself rather than train them again and again! Glad to hear your little girl did a good job and felt proud;) They are so precious!

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  5. I love this post! I believe that John Shea is such a good sweet helper. Trey is in charge of putting his cups/plates/bowls away while I empty the rest of the dishwasher. Some days he does it no problem... others it's an epic battle that ends with one of us crying. No comment as to who that is ;)
    We don't make him put his toys away every night... but now I'm thinking we will! I need to think about this more though and be more intentional. LOVE YOU!!!! Oh and when I make my cappy every morning Trey loves "helping" spoon the frothed milk into his mouth instead of my mug!
    --- lanneybear

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    1. Haha I can guess who that is. That's such a good idea!! I hadn't thought of that one before! Actually, most of these I didn't think of, they just showed repeated interest and a lightbulb finally went off. THEY can do these tasks! (OHH the files are INSIDE the computer!)
      Love you!!
      PS. Trey & Gracie are like one mind with the spooning frothed milk into their little mouths! Every. single. morning.

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  6. oh your sweet babes!!!! i just adore them!!! you are such a good mama, and you inspire me all the time! at 4 years old, we are having a major control issue in our house with what we will or won't do. m tells me all the time "i want you to do it for me." haha. so basically, me doing *all the things* has not worked out necessarily in my favor. but rocco is obsessed with the vacuum, too!! like, finds everyone's vacuum in every house and won't part with it. so here's hoping that keeps on being a good relationship! ;) thanks for sharing, lady!!!!!

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    1. Aww! YOU inspire me all the time!!! I am kind of relieved to hear you are going through that because I still do too with certain things with JS. I want our babies to play together on your beautiful farm!! How can we make that happen!

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  7. I love how happy they look in these photos! So much fun. They might be a bit young for this but something we have started doing is "training". My oldest is almost nine and she has been "trained" to clean the bathroom. We went through piece by piece doing each job individually then finally "passing off" for the whole bathroom. Her younger siblings look on in awe because she has so much responsibility and I tell them that they can get there too, but they need to prove to me that they can do the "little" jobs (just like you're doing, picking up toys, putting shoes in the basket, hanging up towels, etc.) We do dishes as a family, someone clears the table, someone rinses, loads the dishwasher, empties in the morning, etc. It is a lot of hard work initially, especially when they are small, but I'm now seeing with my oldest how much pride she feels when we tell her how great she did (and show off her work when others visit). Let's hope it continues :)

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