Character How to Teach Your Three-Year-Old Responsibility

Responsibility means being dependable, making good choices, and taking accountability for your actions. A responsible citizen looks out for the well being of others and understands we all have a part to play in making the world a better place. For a three-year-old, responsibility might look like picking up their toys, clearing their dinner plate, or putting their dirty clothes in the hamper – simple tasks that they can take on to contribute to their family. 

Encourage your child to become a responsible helper:

Give Children Age-Appropriate Responsibilities

Kids as young as three can be "clean-up helpers," putting toys back into a bin or bringing you books to put back on the shelf. Using a simple phrase ("Clean-up time!") or song can help prompt children. Household jobs provide a great way to celebrate kids' growing abilities. For example, a two-year-old might be able to help you pull clothes out of the dryer, a three-year-old might sort clean laundry into piles by type and a four-year-old might fold their own pile and then put clothes away in the right drawers. Each time a child acquires a new skill, it's a chance to remind them that they are growing up: "When you were three, I helped you put napkins and silverware on the table. But now that you are five, you know how to set whole the table all by yourself!"

Bert in: Pigeon Trouble

Bert needs to clean his apartment. Your child can help by picking up items and following Bert's directions to put the items in their proper places.

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Encourage Your Child to "Be a Helper"

According to research, children who were asked to be "helpers" were significantly more responsive to requests than those who simply asked to "help." In other words, asking children, "Will you be a helper and clean up this room?" is more motivating to them than being told "Help clean up the room." Why? Children want to be viewed as helpers — it's an appealing idea that nurtures their sense of independence and responsibility. 

Make a Bedtime Routine Book

Using photographs or pictures cut from magazines, you and your child can create a book that shows what tasks your child can do to clean up and get ready for bed.

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Build Good Character Skills with Daniel Tiger

Through imagination, creativity and music, Daniel and his friends learn the key skills necessary for school and for life, using strategies grounded in the teachings of Mister Rogers.

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Activity Finder: Learn With Your Three-Year-Old

Explore our Age-by-Age Guide: