Ask Sarah: How to Teach Responsibility

Parenting expert Sarah Rosensweet shares strategies to help your older child learn responsibility around the house while building a connection with them at the same time

Ask Sarah: How to Teach Responsibility

Getty / Michael H

Struggling with tantrums, bedtime boundaries, or simply wondering how to raise happy, confident kids? Sarah Rosensweet offers peaceful parenting advice to help families find balance.

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Q: I've heard everything a 12-year-old should be able to do, and mine does none of that. He can’t make anything except a waffle and doesn't know how to take care of most things. How can I help my child become more responsible?

pre-teen son helping in the kitchen while his father stands next to him helping, mom in the background holding a baby Getty / MoMo Productions

A: It’s great that you want your child to have the life skills he needs. I would start involving him more in the day-to-day activities in your home. For example, get him involved if you want him to learn to be self-sufficient in the kitchen.

Invite him to help you plan the meal for the week (or just for one meal), check your stock to see what you need, make a shopping list, go to the store, and make the meal together. You can do this regularly.

After he’s learned some kitchen skills, you can move on to something else on the list. The idea is to provide "scaffolding" or support so he can learn next to you.

Julie Lythcott-Haim, the author of How To Raise A Grown-Up (which might be a great book to check out), suggests a four-step framework. First, we do things for kids, then we do things with them, then we watch them do things, and finally, they do it on their own.


All of this should be done in the spirit of connection. It’s an opportunity for him to learn these skills and for you to build a stronger relationship that will serve you as he ages.

Good luck with it!

Need support with other parenting challenges? Our Ask Sarah series covers topics like how to help with anxiety and build confidence, how to reduce bedtime struggles and how to prepare for playdates.


Sarah Rosensweet is a certified peaceful parenting coach, speaker, and educator. She lives in Toronto with her husband and her 15 and 18-year-old kids. Her 22-year-old son has launched.


Peaceful parenting is a non-punitive, connection-based approach that uses firm limits with lots of empathy. Sarah works one-on-one virtually with parents all over the world to help them go from frustrated and overwhelmed to “we’ve got this!”

Sarah offers a free course, How To Stop Yelling At Your Kids, so that you can be the parent you want to be. Read more at:  or listen to her top-rated parenting podcast, The Peaceful Parenting Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts!

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