One of the toughest parenting tasks is to get your kids to do their chores. Let’s face it; for most kids, chores are just not on their radar. A ten year old just doesn’t see taking out the trash as a priority. And it gets even harder with teenagers. Sometimes trying to teach a teen to clean is like teaching a pig to sing – it wastes your time and just annoys the pig.
So, what’s a parent to do? I think most parents have discovered that nagging and lectures just aren’t effective. Why not try a totally different tactic? Simple appreciation.
One of my managers had a sign in his office that stated this principle perfectly. It said:
Actions that are recognized and rewarded will be repeated
What a great saying. But read it closely. Notice that it doesn’t just say positive actions. It means any type of action – positive OR negative.
If you reward your child for whining by giving him what he wants, that negative action will be repeated. If you reward your daughter by ignoring her breaking of a rule, that action will be repeated also. Similarly, if you allow a child (or a husband!) to slide by on an assigned chore without consequences, that action will be repeated as well.
But if you come home and thank your son sincerely for unloading the dishwasher, compliment him on how nice the front lawn looks, and tell your daughter how proud you are that she has kept her room clean for the last few days, how likely is it that these positive actions will be repeated?
You might even take it a step further. I’ve been known to reward chores done well with surprise rewards of candy bars, liters of their favorite sodas, or other unexpected treats. Everyone likes a little surprise now and then and you’d be surprised at how much more cheerfully kids will do their chores when you just show them a little appreciation.
I hope this helps you teach your teen to clean. This is a skill that will stand them in good stead in their adult lives.