When I was raising my kids people would often say how lucky I was to have such easy kids. They don’t just pop out of the womb that way. I put some real work into those kids when they were little and it paid right through the teen years.
I can’t remember having trouble getting my kids to do what I wanted them to do after about the age of 3, and here’s how I did it …
I taught them that life wasn’t about handouts, they had to be responsible and accountable. If they wanted to watch TV, they had to make sure their room was clean, etc. They learned this so early that they formed with this belief system. I don’t remember ever reminding them to do their chores, homework or even be polite. They just knew the rules and took responsibility for their actions.
The only thing they ever did that got on my nerves was poke at each other in the back seat of the car after school. Once I realized that was their way of saying hi to each other and releasing some steam after a long day at school, that didn’t even bother me.
So, how do you do get kids to be responsible and do what needs to be done? Use the “as soon as” method:
“As soon as your room’s clean you can play video games.”
“As soon as you’re ready for school you can watch TV.”
My kids grew up thinking that they had to get stuff done before having fun. The TV would NEVER have gone on in our house before they were all ready for school, it just wouldn’t have happened. They never questioned it as never knew any different. I never even said anything, it was just a known fact.
Okay now, I realize you may not have trained your kids to have this mindset but it’s still do-able. Yes, it’s going to be more work erasing bad habits but I’ve trained many parents on this “as soon as” method and they all say once they get it, the kids do too. Kids adjust to this way quicker than the parents. The parents often fumble and say they were too tired to follow through and on went the TV first thing in the morning then they struggled to get the kids off to school with the usual yelling, threatening, etc.
Every single time you fumble like that you’re training the kids that you don’t mean business and they are once again in charge. You have to face the fact that you trained the kids to act the way they do, and you’re going to have to train them out of it. You’re going to have a tough week or 2 or more, but would you rather that or have a tough 18 years???
Check out my article: “If your child is a Rotten Brat, it’s all your Fault”.
A parent said to me, “My son just isn’t interested in food. He pushes his dinner around on his plate for 5 minutes then runs off to play video games.” I said, “Does he have access to video games any time he wants?” Answer, “Well no, but sometimes it’s just easier than fighting with him to get him to eat.” Me, “Here’s what you do. Tell your son that from now on he can play video games as soon as he’s eaten his dinner. It’s his choice, he can either eat his dinner and play video games, or not eat dinner and not have video games. That’s it, no more explaining, just get up and calmly walk away.”
Of course there’s a lot more to it as children will often follow parents around trying to get their own way but there are a variety of different ways to handle that depending on the family dynamics. Parents often get worn down and give in so I teach them how to stay strong as this stuff works, I guarantee it.
Life’s about choices:
You can eat dinner then play video games or not, up to you.
You can put in some work and have great kids or not, up to you.
If you need help with this, check out my coaching page.
Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach