Are nightly homework battles becoming a headache? Children’s chores being left decidedly undone? All your threats, cajoling, and potential punishments falling on deaf ears? Then it’s time to stop driving yourself crazy and try something new.
Using the best methods in child psychology, here’s how to get your kids to do what you want, when you want them to. No more migraines, never-ending battles, or feeling like you’ve turned into your own parents with another, “Because I said so, that’s why!” Try these techniques and soon you’ll find your kids falling in line in no time.
Impose a New Structure
No one wants to stop doing something super fun—say playing a video game or talking to friends—to do something less fun, like folding and putting away laundry or completing page after page of math problems. The trick here? Is to require your kids to do the less appealing thing first, before the fun can start.
Even if this hasn’t been a rule up until now in your home, there’s no time like the present to lay down the new law. If it helps your kids stay focused on the task at hand, you might consider turning off the Internet until the job is finished. Confiscating phones, tablets, and computers until the chores or homework get done also helps ensure this technique works like a charm.
The reward of gaming or connecting on social media becomes a new motivator, a veritable carrot on the end of a stick. Most kids will happily finish the task at hand—usually in record time—to get to the fun stuff.
Genius, right? And all it takes is you taking a stand and consistently providing structure. You can do it!
Set Up a Reward System
When adults do a great job at work, they’re often rewarded with some type of recognition like a bonus or even a raise. Everyone likes to be called out for doing something well. And the same holds true for your kids.
Setting up a reward system for when your child completes assignments or displays a behavior you want to see more often allows them to bask in their accomplishment. Do your homework five days in a row without complaint? Congratulations, you’ve earned an extra hour of screen time or a trip to the movies.
The most important element of a successful reward system is clearly stating what is required to earn the prize. To do so, it’s best to create a visual reminder so your child knows exactly what is expected of them. For instance, you could create a chart and post it in a highly trafficked spot in the house like the kitchen. Each time your child completes an assigned task, fill in the chart. This could be something as simple as a penned in check mark—but going the extra mile by printing personalized stickers is often all the reward a child needs to keep at it.
Make It a Competition
Does your child love to win? Take their natural inclination and apply it to chores and other activities you want completed. If it normally takes your son or daughter several hours to clean up their room, you might say, “I bet you can’t you do it thirty minutes!”
If they don’t immediately rise to the challenge, add an incentive for meeting the time goal. Make it something you both feel good about—say, an extended bedtime, curfew, or favourite baked treat. This is another type of positive reward system, which is naturally more motivating than a punitive one where something gets taken away if the task is not completed.
Let’s face it: No one likes being told what to do. As humans, we want to freedom to determine our own destiny. So why not offer choices about what specific chores your child does?
Having an open conversation with your kids and letting them have input on their household responsibilities can really make a difference in the attitude with which these get accomplished. You might even detect a growing sense of pride in a job well done—all because you included your child in the decision-making process. This way, it feels more like you’re all on the same team rather than your child seeing you as a cranky despot issuing unwanted orders all the time.
Positive phrasing and expressing gratitude—even before the job gets done—works better than nags, threats, and negative messaging. So thank your children in advance of completing a task.
Avoid the word “can’t” and change it to “let’s find a way.” Say “when this gets finished” rather than “if” and your child will know that you have faith in the end product. Instead of saying no to their requests, tell them “yes, but.” (The but, of course, is they need to finish what you’ve asked first.)
Turn your child’s complaints into questions, and ask them to come up with a solution. Explain why and how you expect things to get done. Encourage personal responsibility and assume the best. Your child will likely want to live up to your high expectations in them.
Remember, things don’t have to stay frustrating at home. Try approaching your child in a new way about doing the everyday tasks that need accomplishing. You might just be surprised at how happy and positive the vibe of your tribe becomes.
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