Building Cranium Character – Rearing a Responsible Child

From fairness and generosity to responsibility and respect, instilling good character traits is a high priority for most parents. Children learn about character through their relationships and interactions, and they learn to model the behavior that they see around them. We place a lot of emphasis on academics in education, but are we nurturing the development of life skills while encouraging ethical and responsible behaviors?  This is where character education comes in. Character education is about teaching children valuable life skills and values that they will carry with them throughout their life.

To help children understand what it really means to have good character, it’s best to keep it simple. Providing basic explanations and examples of what each trait looks like in their day-to-day life is key. One important element of our character is responsibility. Let your child know that being responsible means helping others and doing your part. It means always trying your best to follow the rules and do things the right way, even if no one is watching. Here are some simple ways to help teach your child how to be more responsible:

Work Together

Doing chores with your children is a great way to get them to warm up to the idea of responsibility. By inviting your daughter to join you in the housework next time, she may feel like she is being valued. Your child will take pride in being able to help you with your work and will most likely strive to maintain this feeling. Not only does this teach responsibility, but also teamwork.

Lead the Way

It’s important to demonstrate to your child how chores are done before you assign them any of their own. Start with the small tasks, such as showing your son where the hamper is and how to put his clothes in there when he is done wearing them. Then work your way up to larger tasks such as showing him how to clean up a mess when he spills his food or drink.

Give Age-Appropriate Chores/Tasks

If you give your child tasks that are too difficult for her to complete, then she may get frustrated and not want to do them. That’s why it’s important to assign your child chores and tasks that are age appropriate.

For example:

  • A toddler should be able to put the toys away when she is finished playing with them, or carry the dishes to the counter after she is finished eating.
  • A preschooler should be able to set the dinner table, feed a pet, and dust her own room.
  • An elementary aged child should be able to do the dishes, pack their own lunch, and vacuum the rooms.

Teach Consequences

Sometimes your child might not do their chores. When this happens, you can use this as an opportunity to help your child develop a sense of responsibility for his actions. If your child leaves toys lying around the house, tell him that he won’t be able to play with those toys until the next day if he doesn’t pick up after himself.

You will have to put your foot down by taking those toys away. Although there might be some crocodile tears, your child will ultimately learn that if he doesn’t take his responsibilities seriously, then he will suffer the consequences.

Avoid Criticisms

Chances are your four-year-old won’t be making the bed perfectly. It’s important that we manage our own expectations when we start giving our children their own responsibilities. Instead of criticizing them when they don’t meet your expectations, offer them recognition and praise when they do a good job.


At Cranium Academy, we include character education as part of our curriculum. Our character education program integrates building good character traits with positive discipline techniques used throughout the day. Our fun character curriculum involves the use of real-world examples that rely on engaging the students’ cognitive abilities to develop creative strategies. Overall, the goal of our character education program is to encourage students to be ethical and responsible individuals.

More in the Cranium character series: Fairness, Generosity, Respect, Caring, Citizenship

Chores for Children

Getting your kids involved in household chores at an early age has so many benefits. When you give young children chores to complete, they begin to gain a sense of responsibility, self-reliance, and empathy. They learn skills that will carry with them throughout the rest of their lives, including time management, prioritizing tasks, and basic organizational abilities.

If you want your child to start developing these behaviors and abilities, then you should get them participating in household chores as soon as possible. Here are some age-appropriate chores that your child can do to help out around the house:


  • Put their toys away
  • Put their dirty clothes in a basket or hamper
  • Put clean clothes away
  • Feed the pet
  • Throw trash away in the wastebasket
  • Fold simple materials, like pillowcases or washcloths

Kids ages 4 to 5

Any of the above, plus:

  • Make the bed
  • Empty the wastebaskets
  • Bring in the mail or newspaper
  • Clear the table
  • Clean up spills
  • Water the plants
  • Organize items, such as utensils, clothing, or books
  • Hang up towels in the bathroom
  • Prepare their own snacks, like a bowl of cereal

Kids ages 6 to 7

Any of the above, plus:

  • Sweep
  • Fold laundry
  • Put away the clean laundry
  • Set and clear the table
  • Help make and pack lunch
  • Keep their bedroom organized and clean

Kids ages 8 to 9

Any of the above, plus:

  • Vacuum
  • Wash the dishes
  • Put away groceries
  • Help make dinner
  • Prepare snacks
  • Take pet for walks
  • Take the trash out
  • Weed and rake leaves
  • Dust the furniture
  • Clean the bathroom

Ages 10 and older

Any of the above, plus:

  • Mow the yard
  • Do the laundry
  • Mop the floors
  • Make easy meals
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Wash the family car
  • Clean the inside of the fridge
  • Iron clothes
  • Wash windows
  • Help take care of younger siblings
  • Change the bedsheets

Tips to consider:


It’s important to remember that the way you talk about chores will directly impact your child’s willingness to participate in them. Children are more likely to respond to “Let’s do our chores” rather than “Do your chores,” because it emphasizes that chores are not just tasks but a way of taking care of other members of the family.


By putting the focus of chores on taking care of the family, your children will be more likely to want to share the responsibility of the family. They will be more willing to do the chores because they feel that they are contributing to the family’s overall success.


Scheduling a chore time is a good way to maintain consistency every day and to avoid the all too common “I forgot” excuse. Keep in mind that children will not always get it done right the first time and you will need to supervise them during chore-time until they get the hang of things.


Allowances are not necessary for completing chores, however, it is strictly up to you whether or not you think you should give one. Some parents believe that allowances are a good way to teach financial responsibility and are a way to simulate a job-type experience. Other parents believe that participating in chores is just another way of participating in family life and being a part of the family community is not something that should be paid off.

Cranium Values

Teamwork is one of our core values here at Cranium Academy. We believe that when parents and their children work together, both will benefit from the collaboration. Kids will gain a learning experience and life-long skills by doing their chores, while parents might have some of the stresses of housekeeping lifted off of them.