Teaching toddlers about responsibility is just one of our many jobs as parents. But how do we do that?
Toddlers can be irrational little creatures.
They’re at an age where they’re learning to express their likes and dislikes. But they don’t always do so in appropriate ways.
Toddlers want what they want when they want it. Not getting what they want often leads to the notorious terrible twos temper tantrum.
Battling those tantrums while trying to teach toddlers about responsibility can be tiring.
It’s important to approach the task of teaching toddlers about responsibility with the right parenting tips in mind.
Teaching Toddlers About Responsibility
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I’ve learned a lot about teaching responsibility to toddlers through working childcare jobs and of course having a toddler of my own.
Today I’m sharing all of those tips for teaching toddlers about responsibility. Plus, at the end of this post an especially helpful tip I consider a trick: How I Tricked My Toddler Into Being Responsible
Why Teach Toddlers About Responsibility?
So many parents think their toddlers are “too young” to learn something.
”A toddlers too young to learn that, he/she won’t understand. We’ll teach them when they’re older”
This is such a scary thing to hear and it can’t be more wrong.
When you teach toddlers about responsibility they don’t exactly grasp the concept. You’re right.
But what you’re doing is creating good habits for you toddler that will stick with them as they get older.
Tips To Teach Toddlers About Responsibility
1.) Have Realistic Expectations
When you start to teach your toddler about responsibility you need to have realistic expectations.
Most of the time a toddlers “help” isn’t exactly helpful.
Start with a few age appropriate chores.
They aren’t going to do the job perfectly but it is very important that you don’t focus on that.
Show them how to do the chore. Let them try it themselves and praise them for doing it.
Don’t let them see you fix the job that they did. This will make them feel like they did it wrong and they’ll lose interest in doing it again.
RELATED READING: 39 Age Appropriate Chores For Toddlers
2.) Be Consistent
Toddlers are a lot smarter than most people give them credit.
When you start giving your toddler chores and other responsibilities you need to be consistent.
If your toddler if responsible for putting their plate in the sink after meal time EVERY DAY then it will become a habit.
As long as you always remind them to do it and never let them get away with not doing it then after a while it will become a habit.
But, if your toddler resists or asks you to do it for them, and you do, your toddler will remember that.
Your toddler will remember that one time you put their plate in the sink for them and that tells your toddler there is a chance that they can get you to do it again.
This is where you’ll start running into tantrums when you ask them to put their plate in the sink.
3.) Be A Role Model
At this age where they’re constantly learning about the world because everything is so new, toddlers love to copy our behavior.
You can ask your toddler to do something by telling them they need to do it because they have to or because it’s good.
But if you aren’t doing it too, you’re not going to get very far.
You as their parent are your toddlers biggest role model. Be a good one.
Want to take it a step further?
Talk about your good habits as you do them to really get your toddlers attention.
When you’re done with your dinner and you put your plate in the sink say what you’re doing. “When I’m done with my dinner I put my plate in the sink”
It may feel a little silly but your toddler sees what you’re doing and hearing about it as well really helps to make an impression on them.
4.) Start Small
Toddlers aren’t too young to learn responsibility, but they are still toddlers.
At this age play is very important. Toddlers learn through play and they need plenty of it.
Have your toddler master one chore at a time. Gage their ability and their interest in the tasks and only add more responsibilities when they’re ready.
If you push too much you’ll be met with disinterest and resistance.
5.) Keep It Fun
The easiest way to teach a toddler responsibility is to always keep it fun.
Approach each chore like it’s a game.
Ask your toddler, “Who can brush all their teeth the fastest. You or me?” or at clean up time, “Do you think we can get all the toys put away by tossing them into the bin?”
Be silly and creative and your toddler will enjoy responsibility.
How I Tricked My Toddler Into Being Responsible
So now we know to teach toddlers responsibility we need to:
- Have realistic expectations
- Be consistent
- Be a role model
- Start small
- Keep it fun
These tips are simple enough and work very well to teach your average toddler about responsibility pretty easily.
But I don’t have your average toddler you guys.
No, I have the extremely strong willed toddler. The I say up she says down, I say black she says white toddler.
I had to break out all my best tricks for this one. I used all of the tips above and they helped.
But there was one hack I used to trick her into being responsible that worked so incredibly well.
RELATED READING: How To Raise A Strong Willed Child Into A Thriving Adult
I gave her control!
There aren’t many people out there, if any, who like to be told what to do.
This is especially true with strong willed toddlers. They crave control.
It’s not just being told what to do. They don’t even want to be politely asked to do something.
Anything and everything a strong willed toddler does needs to feel like it was THEIR idea.
But how do you give a toddler control with out that completely blowing up in your face?
That just sounds like it will end in cookies for breakfast and wearing their shirt for pants and shoes on backwards, right?
Wrong. It doesn’t have to be that way and I’ll tell you how.
Make your toddler THINK they’re in control!
I’ve been slowly giving Alexa responsibilities for a while now.
She loves to dress herself in the morning. That’s one responsibility she took over on her own.
But when she would do this she would take her wet pull up off and leave it on the floor.
So what do I do?
I could ask her nicely to put her pull up in the garbage, but that would make it my idea. That leads to a tantrum and I don’t really like those very much.
So instead I say, “Alexa, do you know where that dirty pull up goes when you’re all done with it?”
For this to work with a strong willed child you need to be really convincing. You say it with the tone and face like you really don’t know and you’re looking to them for the answer.
Of course she knew because she’s seen me put it in the garbage before. When she told me the garbage I acted really surprised and impressed. “Yea, wow, you are so smart. Great idea!”
I did this every day for a week and every time she would tell me and then pick the pull up up and throw it away with a smile on her face.
Until one day, I didn’t say anything. After a week it became a habit and without asking my 2.5 year old took her pull-up off and put it in the garbage without being asked or told.
I Tricked My Toddler Into Being Responsible
After she mastered putting the pull up in the garbage without being asked I tested this little trick out again.
When she got changed in the morning she’d leave her dirty clothes on the floor. So I asked, with a very confused face, “Do you know where these dirty clothes go when you’re done with them?”
I’d get another enthusiastic answer and she’d pick her clothes up and put them in the laundry room.
Again I repeated this for one week and on the eighth day I didn’t ask.
It worked again. My 2.5 year old picked her clothes up off the floor and ran them to the laundry room out of habit.
I even watched her one day almost forget. She undressed in one room and started running away to find the clothes she wanted.
She got a few steps and then I saw her stop, turn around and come back to grab her clothes.
Another Way To Give Control
Another way you can trick your toddler into thinking they’re in control is to give them options.
Every once in a while I’ll have to remind Alexa to do something and because she’s a strong willed child I’m almost always met with resistance.
So I’ll give her control by giving her options. I’ll say, “I understand you don’t want to pick up your clothes right now because you’re playing with your dolls. Would you like to pick up your clothes now, or when the timer goes off on my phone?”
Now she’s in control because she can choose when she picks up her clothes. Either way the chore still gets done.
RELATED READING: How My Phone Helps Me Be A Good Mom
That, my friends, is how I tricked my toddler into being responsible.
That is the power of creating good habits. After all, aren’t we always told habits are hard to break?
Thank you for reading and good luck with teaching your toddler about responsibility!
Don’t forget theses tips:
- Have realistic expectations
- Be consistent
- Be a role model
- Start small
- Keep it fun
- Give control
Do you have any tips you use to teaching toddlers about responsibility? Let us know in the comments below!
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