#4 of the Top 5 Most Important Things to Do with Your Toddler/Preschooler

If you asked me what the top 5 most important things to do with your toddler/preschooler are, this is what I would say:

#4. Give your kids responsibility early on.


From the very beginning, one thing we always tried to teach our kids how to use things and what things were off limits.  We always attempted to not baby-proof the house to extremes — only enough to ensure their safety.  We wanted them to have access to everything possible, but to know what was okay to do and what was not.  Of course this meant a lot more following them around and interacting with them about what things they shouldn’t be doing, but I think it definitely made them more mature in knowing what they should and shouldn’t do.  I’ve never had to worry too much about them when visiting friends whose houses weren’t baby-proofed at all.

Lilah helping clean up after a meal.

Other ways we gave them responsibility early on was by having them feed themselves as early as possible.  Even before they were able to feed themselves, I’d always hand them a spoon to hold while I fed them.  Probably by around 18 months or so, both L&L could use a spoon and fork to feed themselves well.

In my reading, I came across some Montessori-themed ideas about using nice materials at meals, so our kids have always eaten off of “real” plates and drank from “real” glasses.

Starting at around 12 months, we began practicing drinking from an open cup.  I initially bought glass votives from Walmart’s candle section to use as glasses; they were just under 4 oz. and I wrote to the Libbey glass company to ensure they were food safe.  (I received a very nice reply email that all Libbey glass is made to food grade standards.)

I also bought glass creamer pitchers to use for refilling the kids’ glasses and taught them how to refill their own drinking glass by pouring more water into it.  


They know that their glass stays on the table and is only moved when being carried to the counter by the sink after the meal; they aren’t allowed to walk around the house with it.  Luke upgraded to these 5-3/4 oz. Duralex Picardie tumblers about 6 months ago.  

5-3/4 oz. Duralex Picardie Tumblers — We use for ages 3+

Okay, if you are shocked right now, I will reiterate that yes, my kids drink from glass glasses!  And in the ~3 years we’ve been doing it, only one glass has ever been broken.  L&L learned that glass breaks if you drop it; pretty good lesson to learn if you ask me. 

We also use Corelle plates and bowls for eating.  

Corelle dishes

They are glass, but they are very break resistant, even when dropped.  I’ve used them with the kids since they started baby food; only one piece has been broken and I was the one who dropped it!  When we go places, I really don’t have to worry about taking kid cups or ensuring my kids eat off of plastic plates because I know they’ll be careful with what they’re given.

**But if you do follow this advice, just remember that kids are kids and accidents will happen.  If it’s safe, allow the child to help with the cleanup. 🙂

There are LOTS of other ways we give L&L responsibility, but since this post is getting lengthy, I’ll give you a list in a follow-up post.  Check back soon! 🙂

I’m hoping that if I can help L&L form responsible habits early on, that they’ll stick with them for a lifetime.

What responsibilities do your children have and what are their ages?  

Read more in the Top 5 Most Important Things to Do with your Toddler / Preschooler series:

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Genny Upton

A former teacher turned stay at home mom to two preschool aged children. Creator (and writer) at In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. Currently publishing my first children's picture book!

  • Zara says:

    I love this! I have a 3yo and 5yo, and we believe in responsibility, too. Of course there’s the obvious of putting away their toys. If it seems too overwhelming, I collect all the toys in a laundry basket and they pick out of there of what to put away. It makes the task less daunting. It takes me a minimal amount of time to collect it all, and they can work at their own pace. They clear their dishes, wash their own hands/faces, and put their dirty clothes in the dirty clothes basket. Or they hang things to wear again on a set of low-hanging hooks in their room (hoodies, PJ’s, etc). They hang up their coats and put shoes, hats, and gloves in the appropriate places when we get home….

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