Whether it’s summer or school that’s in full swing, a common issue seems to be chores. Parents don’t want to think of their children as being lazy, but they are hard-pressed to find another way to describe the behavior they see, i.e. little or nothing getting done. Is that happening in your home? Do you want to stop fighting with your kids? If so, here are three tips that will help:
#1 – Be age appropriate. Make sure you’re not asking too much from your child. If they are little, give them basic chores to do that are manageable for their attention span and physical abilities. You don’t want to overwhelm them; you want to give them an opportunity to succeed. What that looks like is asking them to pick up all of the legos, instead of their entire room. Take it one thing at a time. For older children, keep in mind the other activities on their plate. Some seasons in childhood are stressful. Look at this as an opportunity to teach them to manage their time and to start learning how to choose priorities. They won’t be good at it right away. Give them room to let you know if they are in overwhelm, and problem-solve that together. It’s an excellent way to build up your parent-child relationship.
#2 – Reminders. Most children will push back at multiple verbal reminders. They see it as lecturing or nagging. Yet, without reminders, parents don’t see the tasks getting done. That creates a power struggle and frustration that never seems to end. Eventually, it creates disconnect and lack of communication. Give it long enough and the relationship as a whole can disintegrate. So what do you do? I’m a huge proponent of talking about things. It teaches your children critical thinking skills and how to work together, while simultaneously they are well aware that you are the one in charge. How do you do this? While sitting with your child face-to-face in a quiet place, let him/her know:
- What you’d like to accomplish (chores getting done)
- That you realize what you’re doing is not working
- Ask them what they need in order to get the chores done (even though you think they should “just do it”)
Taking the time to listen and working together to build a bridge will serve you and your child for years to come. You are not asking them if they will help with chores or how you can “enable” them to be lazy. You are asking them what is causing them not to want to help and then looking for a solution. This may be as simple as a daily to-do checklist or a whiteboard with a weekly list or changing what chores are done by each family member. If you need help with this conversation, I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation and would be happy to speak with you about it.
#3 – Focus on the Ultimate Goal. Getting chores done is not the ultimate goal. What we are doing with chores is teaching our children to contribute and be part of the “team” called family. We are teaching responsibility and skill development. If your children know how to wash laundry, clean the kitchen, mow the lawn, cook, etc., they can be self-sufficient and responsible in their adult life. Do they need to do these things every day until they move out? Not necessarily; it depends on the needs and priorities of each family. I prefer to do the laundry in our home, but my kids know how to do it and pitch in when needed. As they have gotten older, we share cooking depending on schedules and availability. We work together. It took years of being willing to be disappointed when they didn’t “show up”, knowing that as long as we were communicating, they were learning how to be a “team”, and they were developing life skills, we would get there. And we did!
There are many creative ways to gain the cooperation of our children without manipulating, intimidating or controlling them. While those tactics may appear to be a battle won in that moment, it will end in you losing the war … a healthy relationship with your child. I invite you to contact me to schedule your free 15-minute phone consultation (951-240-1407 or firstname.lastname@example.org) and to sign up for our free monthly newsletter to receive great parenting tips and insights. It is my pleasure to support you and your family!
Traci L. Williams is the Founder of A Loving Way to Parent, an organization devoted to healthy parent-child relationships. alovingway.com