Have you ever noticed when your kids want something, they’re front and center—about an inch from your nose, sometimes with a healthy dose of non-stop nagging? But when YOU need something done, all of sudden they’re in stealth mode or worse—defiant and uncooperative? Been there, seen that. So have most parents.
Is it too much to ask kids to make their bed, toss in a load of laundry, or at least pick up their shoes? No. It’s not too much to ask. But in today’s world where kids often feel entitled to have everything done for them—from cutting crusts off bread to helping with 7th grade science projects to delivering snacks to the sofa so they don’t miss a minute of their show—the division of labor is certainly is NOT in favor of the adults. The good news? This trend is totally reversible and not at all tough to implement.
Are you ready to motivate YOUR kids to pitch in without them pitching a fit? Check out these five tips to get started:
- Watch your words. There’s a big difference between a chore and a contribution. While it is just semantics, what you call the tasks in your kid’s to-do list is vital. Here’s why: call it a chore and it oozes work, burden, and un-fun. As a “family contribution” however? You’re empowering your kids, making them part of the bigger picture, and teaching them that everyone in the family contributes. After all, everyone enjoys the privileges.
- Show your appreciation. Let’s face it: no one likes dusting, emptying the dishwasher, GreaseCycle, or cleaning toothpaste from the sink. But, when your kids step up to contribute and you SHOW them you’re paying attention and appreciate their efforts, they get that they’re a valuable part of the team. That’s priceless. And it will go a long way towards defusing power struggles and promoting future cooperation.
- Cause and effect of the positive kind. Explain to your kids that their contributions make a difference: “You really helped the family tonight when you cleared the table and did the dishes. That gives us extra time to play a game or throw the ball; which would you like to do?” Through family contributions, each child will gain a sense of personal significance, as well as a feeling of belonging to a special team—namely, your family.
- Re-think rewards. Don’t hinge your kids’ allowance on their day-to-day family contributions or use other rewards to motivate them. Here’s why: when you use rewards as motivation, YOU set the expectation that kids should be paid for things that should be expected family responsibilities. That’s the opposite of what you want, right? (Remember, we’re trying to un-entitle our kids!) Allowance is an important tool to teach kids about spending, saving, and giving—but allowance shouldn’t be the “carrot” to get cooperation. Remind your kids how important their contributions are to the family and that everyone must pitch in to keep things running smoothly.
- Make contributions an “all-in” adventure. Even toddlers can do simple tasks, like passing out napkins at dinnertime or wiping down chairs with a sponge. Being “all-in” shows that no matter your age or skill level, everyone’s contribution matters. Kids of all ages will enjoy a sense of belonging, purpose, and satisfaction in being part of what makes your family hum—not to mention gain important skill development as well. How’s that for a win-win?
Try putting these five tips in place to promote more pitching in from your kids, and a lot less pitching fits! And that makes family life a lot more fun for everyone!
ORDER BONUS: Order a copy of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic (now in paperback!) before Sunday, August 28, 2016 and get a FREE TRAINING WEBINAR from Amy McCready: The No-Rescue Policy for Consequences. Learn more here: http://amymccready.com/
QUESTION: What contributions from your children would help your household run more smoothly? Which of Amy McCready’s suggestions excite you the most or seem most applicable to your situation?
CHALLENGE: Identify the one tip that speaks to you and write it some place visible. Role play or practice it alone or with your spouse. Give yourself a little mark or thumbs up each time you try it throughout the day.
BONUS: For more great ideas from Amy McCready, sign up for one of her fabulous FREE webinars here.
Amy McCready is the Founder of PositiveParentingSolutions.com and the author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World.
Edited by Dawn Wessman and Sarah Monson.
Feature image from Shutterstock, with graphics by Julie Finlayson.
Book images provided by author.