The problem with being a parent is that there really are no set “classes” that cover all the myriad problems one may face when becoming one. This article will deal with the problems of motivating children to do their chores.
Consider the plight of the working mother, who is absent 8 hours a day plus two hours of driving, and the working father, the same. Children at home … alone, doing what they want, and NOT what they have been told to do to help. This can be absolutely the worst case scenario for mom and dad … coming home with a messy house, housework still unfinished, dishes in the sink … TV blasting, and kids not doing their homework. . “Scolding” just doesn’t work and always leads to arguments and whining or some kind of “scene.”
I went through this scenario years ago when my young teens first had the freedom to be at home without the “babysitter.” I put up with it for so long and then decided it was time to steal one of my best “motivational techniques” that I used in my classes (I was a special education teacher). In those days, it was called “conduct disorder.” Today there are labels like “attention deficit disorder” and “educational deficiencies.” Regardless, I had a lot of tricks up my sleeve to get these kids to focus on their skills in school, and I thought I’d give it a try at home.
These techniques worked for me then, and with some “modernization” ideas they will work now, in this day and age.
First, as a parent, you must decide what you want your children to do as part of the home. And don’t say they don’t need to do anything. They are members of the household. Same as you. Like the other half of a marriage, the spouse … everyone in a home benefits from the things the home provides … food, shelter, warmth, etc. Cleanliness and order without yelling and yelling and tantrums make the house run smoothly and make everyone happier.
So, make that list of what you would like your children to do. Make a good no-nonsense list: make your bed, pick up dirty clothes, wash your own clothes, keep dirty dishes collected, put away your toothbrush and toothpaste … common and normal things that irritate you when you are NOT they get done. Don’t forget to add homework! Then add to the list at least three tasks that need to be done as “extras” (things like cleaning the refrigerator or dusting the rugs or vacuuming the living room floor).
Make a table listing those tasks, on the side of the page, with a space for each day at the top of the page (you will need to check each item daily).
Next, decide what your kids really like to do (listen to the ipod? Play nintendo?) And keep that in mind. Then, sit down with your children and write a contract with them, something to the effect that you will not tell them ONE WORD about how to do their “homework.” They will be written in the table. In turn, so that you don’t “scold” them, they will simply do what is expected and do it at 7 pm every night. No “privileges” until then. NO television, no iPods, no cell phone. (Remove them in the morning of the first day the new regimen begins.) You sign this contract and your children sign this contract. What they get out of this is no more hassles and the opportunity to keep their favorite privileges, which up to now they have considered a right, rather than a privilege.
Every night at 7 pm the chart will be reviewed. If all the daily tasks have not been marked, the favorite thing WILL NOT BE USED. In addition, he will withdraw from them until the next day, at 7:00 p.m. The same thing. If the daily tasks ARE checked, then they will have their favorite things back, at that time, for the evening. Don’t start too hard, it doesn’t have to be a perfectly made bed, for example, but it can’t be a disaster either.
This only takes a couple of days, and guess what, you’ll come home and find a tidy house and homework done.
What about the “extra” items? Well, if you get three “extra” items over a one-week time period, then you have two options. You can give them something extra special, or you can DO something extra special with your children; after all, you will have more time to spend with them!
Remember, it is YOUR home too. And you are not a “friend”, you are a FATHER. You will be responsible for the type of home THEY will provide for your own children. Teach them well. And love them well.