My kids are getting older and sometimes it becomes a battle to get them to complete schoolwork and chores…when I want them to.
I see this discussion a lot among parents, especially homeschool families. “How do I get my kids to do this or stop doing that?” Often, I think the parents expect too much or go about things the wrong way, but they don’t really want to hear that.
First, does it really matter?
Sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes, it seems there are ridiculous hoops we have to jump through to move on to something more important. I don’t want rebellion.
The older my kids get, the harder it seems to be simply to request a task get done and see them smile and answer, “Yes, Mom!”
Sometimes, negotiation takes place. The teen wants to do it later, always later. She often barters for the iPad or a Netflix show if she does this or that. It’s like when I give myself a chocolate for doing something I didn’t love doing.
My kids are learning “work first, then play” is the best way. It’s an important lesson. I encourage them with budgeting her time.
Often, especially as we get older, we have to do things we don’t want to do and that’s really hard.
Overall, I expect respect from my kids. I expect them to respect me and each other.
But respect is earned. And it’s reciprocal.
By my practicing and modeling respect and kindness, my kids understand that our home is not a battleground.
The key to maturity is intrinsic motivation.
When kids are conditioned to expect candy, stickers, tokens, money, or whatever for doing something, they are only learning to get that reward not to do the thing they should.
When kids are conditioned to expect loud and angry voices, scowling looks of disgust, loss of gifts, timeouts, or even a smack, they learn to avoid punishment and not to do the thing they should.
Parenting is all in. It’s a full-time job. It’s consistency and love, sweat, and tears.
I’ve had to address my triggers and issues and past abuses in order to love my children well.
How I Motivate My Kids:
I keep a prayer journal.
The kids and I have prayer time and Bible reading most mornings and evenings. This is a quiet, pleasant time for all of us to be still together.
I have learned that when I stop to pray over frustration, it diffuses the situation and helps us all to reset.
If a child is having an especially difficult time with attitude, a math problem, or anything – stopping, being still, breathing, praying aloud or silently, together, helps give her strength and confidence.
It’s my job to model peace.
Offer the Best Beginning
It’s important to feed my kids’ growing bodies and provide good fats, nutritious fruits and vegetables, and whole grains to keep their brains healthy.
I am not a morning person, but I force myself to get up and make a good breakfast for my kids. It’s best for us all and makes a big difference in our overall health.
Also, we still do “circle time” together – praying, Bible reading, and planning our day. Working together to make a plan keeps us all on track throughout the day. It’s respectful to ask for my kids’ input on our schedule and discuss options and nonnegotiable appointments or events. We try to maintain calm in our schedule. I don’t like being busy and rushed or stressed.
Many hands make light work.
It’s so much easier to clean a bedroom or do dishes with help. I often assist my kids in chores because I like being with them and it makes the chores go faster. Modeling how to complete chores well helps for next time. I can’t expect them to know how to clean everything without my showing them the tricks and tips.
There are times when a child must clean up alone, but he’s often more willing since I helped last time. I remind him of that and verbally tell him how to break it into chunks so it’s not overwhelming.
I provide pretty baskets and shelves to make everything easier and neater. We are becoming more minimalist so we’re not overwhelmed by clutter.
It’s respectful and kind to help each other and ask for help when necessary.
Model Servant Leadership
As a mom, I am naturally a servant in my home. I do laundry and dishes every day. I pick up after everyone. I clean and tidy and organize.
My attitude models leadership to my kids.
I try not to grumble and complain when I get overwhelmed. I want to encourage a helpful and happy attitude.
I want cheerful hearts, serving others joyfully.
We often read missionary stories and historical fiction with characters who were great servant leaders.
We typically have too many helpers. The kids love to be with Mom and Dad in the kitchen or laundry room or yard, helping and learning.
But sometimes, the helpers don’t want to help. They’d rather play or be alone or they don’t really like the job that needs to be done.
Sometimes an attitude adjustment is needed.
One kid complains about another:
“It’s not my mess!”
“Why doesn’t she have to help unload the dishwasher too?”
Life isn’t fair.
We try to make sure chores are distributed as equally as possible. The dynamics of a family of six means there is sometimes disagreement.
I just want cooperation.
Such is life.
When someone complains about another, and involves me, she should serve the others. Usually, I try to let them work it out on their own. Their sense of fairness is often different (and better) than mine.
It kills me to listen in and sometimes there are tears or angry voices and I want to step in, but by doing so, I rob them of the lesson in problem-solving and people skills.
I want grateful attitudes. Dishes aren’t my favorite. I don’t like to fold laundry. But we all need to pitch in and learn how to do these chores well. Someday, they’ll have their own households to run and I want them to have the skills to do it well.
They seldom argue for long and the chores do get completed every week.
Set Realistic Goals
We have pared down our homeschool work to only what is necessary and interesting. We’re quite the unschoolers these days.
Often, my kids get overwhelmed with a busy schedule or too much schoolwork and I must reevaluate. And I don’t like feeling rushed or busy.
I conference with my teen each week to help her stay focused. My job is as a coach now, guiding her to make the best decisions for high school. She worked as a Red Cross volunteer two full days each week last year. Her academic load is heavy and hard. She’s now dual-enrolled at a local college.
I help my kids decide which activities they want to focus on. Our budget and schedule won’t allow us to do it all!
Less is more. We teach mastery. Quality over quantity.
What I Don’t Do:
Use Harsh Language
I’m working on this. Of course I get frustrated. I can be controlling. I am overcoming my past. I look for healthy ways to communicate, even when I’m upset.
We’re all pretty loud and often talk over each other, but we’re all learning to be more respectful with our voices.
I remember that I can tear down or I can build up. I would rather have a good relationship with my kids. I want them to have good memories.
Raising my voice only makes the situation worse. I’ve found that even with a teenager, like with a preschooler, there are often other factors (like hunger and being tired) that cause attitude problems. When I address those issues, it’s smoother sailing.
It’s my job to model calm tones and words.
Ask for Too Much
I have to realize how far to push my kids.
Too little and they get bored. Too much and they get overwhelmed.
It’s a constant struggle for balance to challenge them, but not overdo it.
As my kids grow and mature, I have to check that I don’t ask too much or too little. When attitude problems arise, I ask myself why. They’re often unable to express to me that they’re overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed kids often shut down because they don’t know how to handle it.
Bored kids resent being unchallenged and act out.
We take a break and evaluate the situation. By homeschooling year-round, we have that luxury.
Relationships come before academics.
I don’t like sticker charts. I don’t like dangling carrots. I don’t like incentives.
As an adult, I don’t have incentives other than personal satisfaction. I don’t get stickers for cleaning the toilets.
I have four kids and I just don’t feel the need for charts and schedules cluttering up my wall. I want to develop an attitude of caring and charts just don’t convey that image. We’ve tried them and I found them to be a waste of everyone’s time.
We don’t do rewards, punishments, bribes. They’re worthless and unnecessary.
They diminish motivation and a kid who learns to crave that reward yearns for more external reward each time instead of the satisfaction of a job well done.
I want my kids to feel good about a job well done.
I refuse to buy into the self-esteem, everybody-gets-a-trophy attitude of our modern culture.
I want my kids to develop a good work ethic. Sometimes that means repeating a task until it’s done correctly. I won’t tolerate laziness. I also don’t want to push too hard or discourage.
I will often step back and make sure I modeled well what I want accomplished. I will help my children complete the task, teaching by example, so he or she can independently do it next time to a better standard. I want to say “Good job!” and have it actually mean something.
I often ask my kids how they feel about what they did, whether it’s an art project, writing assignment, chore, or a baseball game. I want them to have healthy views of their abilities, wins, and failures.
How do you get your kids to complete the hard tasks?
Linking up: The Jenny Evolution, 124Homeschool4Me, Wife Mom Geek, All Kinds of Things, Mommy Crusader, Simple Life of a Fire Wife, Living Montessori Now, ABC Creative Learning, The Educators Spin on It, Life of Faith, The Modest Mom, What Joy is Mine, A Proverbs 31 Wife, Rich Faith Rising, Time Warp Wife, F Dean Hackett, True Aim Education, The Natural Homeschool, The Stay at Home Survival Guide, Wonder Mom Wannabe, Life with Lorelai, A Little R&R, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Raising Homemakers, Pat and Candy, Imparting Grace, I Choose Joy, A Kreative Whim, Crafty Moms Share