Many teaching staff will tell you that children’s academic achievements at school will improve for children once they take responsibility for their own learning.  What about life skills and time management? These will also improve once children are able to take on a level of responsibility. So how do we achieve these outcomes?  Many parents out there will be thinking “pet”; my words of wisdom here are don’t do it unless you are prepared to do all the work. Pets are a fantastic learning opportunity and a great way for children to learn about responsibility but maybe wait until 7 or 8 years of age, this is a big step. Have you thought about pocket money? Giving your child a job around the house to earn pocket money can have great learning outcomes for older children. Learning the value for money, saving up for something they really want, budgeting, and also contributing to the running of the house. This only works if you follow through with the goods. Handing over of the money and also setting aside the time to spend the money that they have earned.

I am sure that you had your own experiences as children and from these you will decide your own expectation of your own children.

My children are much older 17, 15, 13 and 4. I expect my children to do some things for nothing (I don’t want them to expect to be paid for every little thing they do) like garbage, dishwasher, feed the dog, recycle bin, hanging the washing out, etc. Other things they get paid for, like washing the car, cleaning the pool or mowing the lawn. Their rooms however remain their responsibility, if they leave their school bag in the hall I pick it up and put it in their room, if they leave their dirty clothes on the bathroom floor I pick them up and put it on the floor in their room. If their room is clean all week with the bed made every morning and vacuumed on the weekend they are rewarded with pocket money. I don’t ask and just shut the door as long as the rest of my house is tidy I am happy.


So where to start with your younger children? Helping make their own bed, if they do it by them self DO NOT redo it, with practice they will get better. They can put the knives and forks away out of the dish washer, set the table, tidy their room, vacuum their own room every second week (again DO NOT redo it), put their dirty clothes in the clothes basket, take their plate to the sink, wash themself in the bath or shower, I am sure you can think of other ideas.

Give lots of positive encouragement and tell them what a great helper they are. Be patient, focus on the positives, reward your child afterwards; not with money but with a story or building a train track together (you will have extra time to do this if everyone helps). Remember young children have little concept about money, you can give them 10 x 5c which seems like more that 1 x $2 coin. The value of money is something that is quickly learned about once they start school when they go to the canteen. Think about your expectations now and discuss this with your partner. Helping to contribute to the house is a great way to build self help skills, self confidence and resilience.

More on resilience next week.