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round and round we go

The quote in my last post got my brain thinking on a tangent.

People waste an amazing amount of energy doing things that are either pointless or harmful, myself included. I have a tendency to get lost in my computer or a movie and ignore everything else around me, especially if it involves getting up and actually doing something. I’ve been trying to change that, and having mixed results.

There are naturally more examples I could mention about myself, but this is my blog, and therefore I’m not going to dwell on my flaws. 🙂 Instead, I’ll talk about the kids!

When it comes to cleaning rooms, taking baths, or other basic household chores, my kids will spend more time and energy at one or more of the following than it would take to just complete the task:

  • Insist, often in the form of screaming, that they WILL NOT DO IT.
  • Tell me that I am mean and unfair.
  • Mention the things that siblings have not yet completed in an attempt to direct my attention elsewhere.
  • Remind me that they have to complete the task that I requested two hours earlier, which they have not yet started.
  • Completely ignore me.
  • Say “ok,” go off as if to do the task, and play with toys instead.

Usually I feel I’m alone in having this trouble with my kids, but intellectually I know I’m not. I already have one teenager, and the others aren’t far behind. I fear for my sanity.

By elyograg

Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy with the proof.
-- J.K. Galbraith

2 replies on “round and round we go”

I, too, have similar problems with my kids although they are much younger. For example, when we say “Annika, your chore is to clean up your room” she will cry, or angrily stomp in to another room, or scream or just go to her room and play instead of clean. The most effective method I’ve found so far is to make some kind of threat that I can absolutely follow through on every time.

For example, I say “If you aren’t going to clean your room I’m going to go in there and pick up some things (note the ambiguity) and throw them away or give them to someone else.” I found I can’t say “I’ll throw away anything on the floor” because I’m not throwing clothes away and some other items. But there always seems to be something on the floor I CAN throw away — or give to charity.

Consistancy and followthrough are the key, but you better not threaten anything that both you AND Kathy are 100% commited to follow through on. Even if the consequence isn’t that big a deal, I think they learn there ARE consequences they can count on when they don’t do their chores.

The other key point is I can rarely leave it all up to my kids. For example, I can’t say you clean your room or else — I say “if I have to come in there and HELP you clean this up, then no friends or TV for 2 days” or something like that. Because the chore must get done, you don’t want to leave an option open where they can just not do it. Give them a couple of choices ALL of which accomplish the goal.

That being said, it certainly isn’t easy. I find myself some weeks saying “OK, there is way too much stuff to be done around the house. I’ll only watch Star Trek Enterprise and Alias this week on TV and THAT’S IT. Sometimes I have to cut out reading time or computer time but I figure that if I’m making my kids do chores, I have to do mine as well. A couple of times I’ve even let Annika choose my punishment if I don’t get MY chores done. That gives her the feeling that we are all in it together (which we are since we all live there).

There you go! My worthless advice.

Although my kids are still young and have not found the joys that come along with screaming about doing there chores, I have had similar problems with other areas. A temper tantrum is my week spot, It makes me want to climb a wall. After taking some parenting classes with my wife I have come to a couple of conclusions.

1) Postive reinforcment is a pain in the rear, but well worth the effort. The key to getting this to work is to always tell them how good they are doing when they do something good. The down side is you have to ignore any behaviour you don’t like.
2) When you threaten, you have to follow through, and you have to remember what you did so that you can issue the same punishment the next time they do that behaviour.
3) when all else fails, take the kids to Grandma’s and take a time out

When my wife and I are consistant, and positive, my son is very well behaved. When we slip, so does he.

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