Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"Leave Me Alone...I'll Do It!"

No kid wants to do their chores. Honestly I really don't know anyone who gets kick-ass exited to mow the lawn, take out the trash, bring down their laundry. Hell, I don't even like to do those chores. It's only when there is that tipping point, when if I leave whatever for one more day that I begin to feel really really bad about myself. And I am an adult.

So your first weapon in combatting the chore blues is to anticipate the struggle it's going to take. Your second weapon is to have a plan in your head that outlines, the number of times you are willing to ask before you just do it yourself, and then the consequence for your teen for not doing it.

There are two variations that I think are effective:

Plan 1

Keep your "asks" to three. All Teens need to be reminded, that is normal. After the 3rd ask you stop asking. And when your teen comes to you next for a ride, money laundry, help with homework, a special snack, etc, you say:" Gee honey, I would love to, let me know when you have done X and I'll get right on it. 

Plan 2

Again keep your asks to three. Then just do it yourself. And when your teen comes asking for any of those favors, you say, You know honey, I would have, but I asked you three times to do X and you chose not to help me out. So sorry, now I choose not to help you out today. 

Nagging is no fun, and almost never works anyway.


  1. Hi Joani,

    What a lovely tip!!!! It's a wonderful way to help young people realise that we can both build or burn bridges in relationships, and that we have to balance our needs with the expectations of others. One you agree this strategy with your teen or do you just do it off the cuff?

    Gerhard Pretorius
    Systemic & Family Psychotherapist

    1. Hi Gerhard
      I think it works either way. I think parents need to understand that even though they "told" their kids that there was a three times and you're out policy, teens will forget you ever said that. So parents need to not get caught up in adding the "I told you this would happen" to their frustration. On the other hand, if a parent just uses this strategy, and are consistent with it, teens will figure it out.

  2. Hi,
    or the power struggle can continue - we have created a ' do to get ' environment , so the kid will say I will forget about your favor and won't do chores. For some kids the 'power' game might work , while others not. But really you want a kid to help around the home , so use another word for chores - make a contribution because he feels part of the family, this is the right thing to do , and intrinsically motivated to help. And this means a real discussion and asking him his opinion and engagfing in collaborative problem solving. It could be that the teen is not very organized , or has difficulty in getting started, so a CPS discussion will start - I have noticed you are having difficulty with the lawn or trash , what's up ?