How to Teach Toddlers Responsibility

It’s common knowledge that responsible kids are healthier, happier kids. It’s never too early to teach toddlers how to live responsibly—but how should you reinforce positive behaviors for toddlers so that they can take responsibility for their choices and their impact on the world?

Read on to discover the four most helpful tips that allow you to do just that.

Build their self-esteem

Studies show that children with high self-esteem tend to value responsibility much more than children who are lacking in self-confidence. They’re better at seeing goals through to get what they want; acknowledging and learning from mistakes; trying new things and taking risks; asking for help whenever necessary and many other key life skills.

Building self-esteem in children takes time, but it can be done. Regularly provide positive reinforcement both verbally and physically. Offer verbal praise, hugs and high fives. Whenever possible, reward good behavior with a special activity or treat to send a positive message that your child is doing the right thing, instilling within them a greater sense of self-worth.

Teach them to clean up after themselves

It’s crucial to raise your child with the expectation that they are responsible for cleaning up their own messes. Be firm, but be cheerful and kind at the same time (remember the old adage that you shouldn’t worry about spilled milk). There are two great strategies for promoting positive behaviors for toddlers: 1) picking up together, i.e., making sure everything has a home, including toys, clothes, shoes, etc.; 2) making picking up a game by putting on some music or by turning cleaning into a competition. Be consistent, and cleaning up will become second nature to your kids.

Provide structure and routine

Routines are crucial for the development and well-being of kids. From bathing routines to setting standard bedtimes and getting ready in the morning, you can offer your child repeated opportunities to manage themselves. It helps your little ones understand what they can expect as well as what is expected of them, giving them a sense of comfort, safety and some measures of independence at the same time.

Repair rather than punish

A toddler needs to be responsible not only in terms of chores and other daily tasks but also in terms of their interactions with others. When conflicts arise between your toddler and a sibling, parent or friend, don’t force them to apologize—they won’t mean it, and it won’t help the matter. Teach your toddler that their treatment of others has consequences and that they’re responsible for repairing relationships when conflicts occur. That way, they’ll choose to make amends, which makes everyone feel good, without you having to rely on punishment that usually leads to resentment.

Teaching toddlers how to live responsibly is a skill that needs to be reinforced and nurtured from an early age. It always helps to surround your child with positive role models who foster responsible behaviors, like the folks at Kids Kingdom Early Learning Center. By working together as a team, you can help your little ones learn the life skills they need to grow into healthy, happy and productive adults.