When Getting Your Kids to Pitch in a Little is a Big Problem
By Parenting Educator and Author Amy McCready
Funny how when your kids want to do something – play a game, watch a show, or capture a Pokémon in the latest app craze, there is no limit to the energy or time they can find to make it happen – right? But let there be a dish to wash, a bed to make, or a vacuum to run and they scatter like mice! If you’re like a lot of parents, getting your kids to pitch in around the house is an even bigger chore than the tasks that need to be done!
If you’re ready to change up the status quo in your home and get kids to switch up the way they think, feel, and ACT about lending a helping hand, this article is for you!
Here are four tips to get those kids off the couch and into action!
1) Forget “carrots for cooperation.”
A lot of parents dangle the “carrot” or reward in front of their kids in the hopes that it will entice them to contribute. It makes sense on the surface, but watch out! A promise of a five-dollar bill or a trip to the mall may get your kids moving initially – but it’s never going to be a strategy that works for the long haul. Why? Because when we use rewards as motivation – we’re actually setting in motion the expectation that kids should be rewarded or paid for things that SHOULD be considered family responsibilities. (Which feeds the sense of entitlement rampant in society today.) Allowance is a great teaching tool, but shouldn’t be the reward for helping out. Remind your kids that families work best when they work together and that means everyone has to do their part!
2) Choose your words carefully!
Consider these two words: chore and contribution. What’s the difference? Semantics? Not at all! Believe it or not, how you label the things you want your kids to pitch in and do matters. Think about it…what does the word “chore” conjure up for you? Work – right? Drudgery. Not to mention a healthy dose of “How can I get out of this?” But a family contribution? That’s empowering, inclusive, and brings the concept of teamwork to the forefront – it’s the opposite of entitlement!
3) Appreciation party.
We know we’ll probably never get our kids to LIKE emptying the dishwasher, cleaning their room or bathing the dog. While that may not be in the cards – you can get them to like the feeling of being appreciated! When you let kids know how much you appreciate their efforts or how their contribution made a difference for you or another family member – that’s something they’ll eat up all day long. A little appreciation will also go a long way to keep power struggles at bay. So when your kids do help out – take time to NOTICE – and let them know how much you appreciate their hard work!
4) Make contributions something you start early and often.
Even little ones can lend a hand with simple tasks, like picking up toys or wiping down tables. When you get your littlest ones contributing in age-appropriate ways, they feel empowered with new skills and it will reinforce that everyone working together matters. The bonus? Not only will you get lots of helping hands, but your kids will feel a sense of belonging and accomplishment as well.
If you’ve been struggling with chore charts and eye-rolling for a long time, give these simple strategies a go this month and see how it works with your kids.
For more strategies on how to get your kids cooperating more and complaining less, order a copy of Amy McCready’s best selling book – now available in paperback: The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World