Why it's important If you put a child in charge of things (feeding the dog, folding the towels), she'll learn that just as she counts on you, people (and pets) count on her too. "Feeling responsible will really help your child's confidence blossom," says Eyre.
Bring it to life Get two small spider plants. Have your child draw a happy face on one pot and a frown on the other. Put the plants on the windowsill, but have her water only the happy pot. After about a week, the second plant will begin to droop. Show her both and discuss the difference: The plant she took good care of is doing well, while the one she neglected is sick. Then have her water the second plant (and the first!). Within a day or two, it should perk up again.
Read and learn Horton Hatches the Egg, by Dr. Seuss. Horton pledges to guard a friend's egg, and he sticks to his promise -- even when the going gets tough.