This is a guest post by Janet Stelly; a mom to two children, wife, and nana to one grandson.  She has a mother and son duo blog A couple of Stellys where they blog about Abundant Frugal Living – Travel, Home, and Family.

What can you do right now to prepare your children to be young adults ?

We don’t have to wait until our kids start high school or even 1st grade to start preparing them. They are ready to learn about responsibilities now.

That one word not only has a lot of letters, but also a lot of life lessons in it. That’s why considering how to teach kids responsibility is so important.

How to teach kids responsibility

Using household chores is the easiest and most natural way to teach kids responsibility. Plus there are are a couple extra benefits:

  • Kids want to feel like they are “big” and help by doing things on their own (and chores allow them this).
  • It takes all family members pitching in to make a household run smoothly (and kids will see this in action).

Model what right looks like and explain how to do each chore. Kids are famous for asking “why”, so don’t wait for them to ask, explain why each of these are important to do.

Related: Chores for four year olds (that they’ll be excited to do!) 


  • put dirty plate (non-breakable) in the dishwasher after a meal
    • It may not be placed just like you want, but it is a start.

Explain that we all like to eat with clean dishes and this is how they get clean. It should also be pointed out that a dishwasher has breakable dishes and pointed forks and knives, so safety is a must.


  • put dirty clothes in the clothes hamper
  • when clothes are clean
    • fold washrags
    • match socks
    • put clothes in a stack – pajamas together, shorts together, etc.
    • put clothes in drawers – they’ll need help with the hanging clothes

Explain that it takes everyone putting their dirty clothes together, so they can be washed. Once they’re clean, it is easier to put them in their designated places, so they’ll be able to find them later.


  • put toys up when finished playing with them
    • I’m sure I’m not the only one that has trouble putting some things back in the original packaging, so if this is the case with certain toys, get organizing bins. These bins can be as low as $1 at some dollar stores. Keep organizing bins handy for toys like Legos that have many pieces.

By putting the toys up, they will not lose them or any pieces. If the toys stay out on the floor, someone may trip on them.


  • help bring in groceries from the car
  • put them up in the pantry or refrigerator

If the whole family helps with the groceries, they feel a part of the group. It is also demonstrating teamwork. Some items need to be refrigerated while others do not. It is important to put them in the correct place to keep the food fresh and safe to eat.


  • help feed family pets
  • help pour the water in their bowl
  • assist older family members walking the dogs

I believe that most kids want a pet, but they do not understand the expense, time, and responsibility that goes along with one. Just like we need to eat and drink, pets need to be fed regularly too.


  • establish morning routine
  • establish bedtime routines
    • Have a simple written checklist for them to follow and do on their own primarily. They may need assistance with some of the items, but they know what needs to be done.

Communicate to let them know how much time they have before they leave for xxxxxx (daycare, school, church, park, etc.) and the same before bedtime. This is a skill where they learn how to budget their time. It gives them the flexibility to make small decisions within these routines.

Bathing and brushing teeth are a part of keeping clean. It’s best to potty before bedtime so they don’t wake up as much at night to go to the bathroom. Go through each item listed and explain why it is important.

My 5-year-old grandson follows these checklists where there is a picture that describes the activity by each name:

  • Morning Routine:
    • Brush teeth
    • Potty
    • Get dressed
    • Dirty clothes
    • Breakfast
    • Book sack
  • Bedtime Routine:
    • Bath
    • Pajamas
    • Dirty clothes
    • Brush teeth
    • Potty
    • Hugs and kisses

He and his mom have worked together about what each of these mean and how to do it. They will probably need assistance with getting toothpaste on the toothbrush and picking out their clothes. You can put a few choices of clothes out for them to choose. Tweak the list and process to work for your family.

“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.” – Ann Landers

Enjoy the time with your kids, but don’t let teaching moments pass you by. The saying that time flies by quickly is true. Before you know it, these youngsters will be graduating from high school and ready to navigate their way through the world. Start at a young age giving them life lessons regarding responsibilities, even as young as 4 or 5-year-old.

If you would like a copy of our FREE Life Skills Checklist for transitioning from home to living on your own, click here. While this article was specific to a younger age, the checklist has the skills needed by the time they start living on their own. That time will be here before you know it and this checklist can be used to work those teaching moments into the age appropriate years through graduation.


how to teach kids responsibility