Oh, Behave: 11-year old won’t help around the house



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We have an 11-year-old son. He won’t help around the house unless we pay
him for the chore. Yes, there has been forced ‘enslavement’ as he calls
it, but is this because we ‘bribed’ him when he was little? (For
example we used to say, “Put your toys away and we’ll go to the park.”)
We have a five-year-old, too. How do we get them both to do things when
we ask? Is coaxing with rewards bad? EDMONTON, AB

JOE: Be careful
when assigning dollar values to things like family chores. As children
age they up the ante and before you know it your home begins to operate
like a small business! What’s ‘two dishwasher unloads and folding
clothes from the dryer’ worth? Chores are about co-operation,
responsibility, learning to look after yourself and caring for those
around you. Adults get paid, but they don’t get paid for being a member
of a family, so it may be worth rethinking how you approach this in your
home. As a rule, allowance is about money management. Chores are about
belonging. Perhaps hang a sign in the kitchen that reads, “This is a
home where people help out.” Declarative statements are useful with
children and at times – instead of pushing the issue or nagging – simply
pointing to the sign will do the trick! As for rewards, instead of,
“Put your toys away and we’ll go to the park,” (consequences) I would
suggest, “Put your toys away, then we’ll go to the park” (sequencing).
The difference is small but the meanings are quite different and
indicate a newer, less punitive structure. Consider using both logical
consequences and logical sequencing at different times. But more
sequencing and fewer consequences makes life just a bit easier – and
easy is good!

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