Friday - - Advice -


My chil­dren are not used to do­ing do­mes­tic chores as we had house help for a very long­time. Nowthat we don’t have one, they are will­ing to pitch in but only if I of­fer some in­cen­tive. I de­test do­ing that. Any ideas?


I’m sure there are plenty of ex­as­per­ated par­ents out there who can iden­tify with your con­cerns. In fact, I’m pretty cer­tain this is one of the most com­mon causes of fam­ily ar­gu­ments – youwant chil­dren to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for clean­ing up their own mess and also de­velop a sense of in­de­pen­dence and per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity. They would rather ‘do it later’ or not at all, un­less there’s some­thing in it for them. They feel you’re nag­ging them; you feel they’re treat­ing you dis­re­spect­fully and so the cy­cle con­tin­ues.

The key is to break that cy­cle. Be­fore you do any­thing, in your own mind work out what it is you ex­pect your chil­dren to do on a daily/weekly ba­sis then sit them down and clearly ex­plain those ex­pec­ta­tions.

Point out the pos­i­tives to help­ing out – they will be learn­ing valu­able life skills, as well as en­abling their par­ents to spend more qual­ity time with them do­ing en­joy­able things be­cause they aren’t busy clean­ing up af­ter the­mall the time.

You could even make it vis­ual through a chart that is kept where ev­ery­one can see it. Make sure they un­der­stand your rea­son­ing be­hind ask­ing them to share in the chores and that there will be con­se­quences if they don’t keep to their side of the bar­gain.

You don’t men­tion their ages, but I do think it’s a good idea to build in a re­ward sys­tem, so that they are re­warded each week for achiev­ing every­thing on the list. For older kids, you can for­malise pocket money and for younger chil­dren per­haps a reg­u­lar small weekly treat (try not tomake this food based). This will give you more wrig­gle room when it comes to im­pos­ing those con­se­quences if they fail to rise to the chal­lenge.

And be con­sis­tent. It’s easy to give in and do it your­self to avoid con­fronta­tion, but if you show them you don’t re­ally mean busi­ness, they won’t take your ex­pec­ta­tions se­ri­ously. Also, never set more chores as a pun­ish­ment be­cause this will send out mixed mes­sages.

Fi­nally, try and in­tro­duce el­e­ments of fun into it. Make a game out of tidy­ing up for younger kids and set shorter time lim­its for older kids to help mo­ti­vate them. Try and get the­mall to do things at the same time. Also re­ally con­sider the tim­ing so you don’t ex­pect them to do chores when they are pressed for time as this just causes more stress.

RUS­SELL HEM­MINGS is a life coach, and clin­i­cal and cog­ni­tive be­havioural hyp­nother­a­pisGOTA


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