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Motivating kids to do their chores without complaining--WWYD?

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My DDs have a morning chore list of things they need to do in the morning. For the most part, these are basic morning things--get dressed, brush teeth, put your dishes in the sink after you eat. There are a few true "chores" in there too--straighten up your bed and put away at least three things in your room. Then be at the school table by 9:30.


At first I tried to motivate them with incentives. For every morning they accomplish this, they get a gem. Once gems begin accumulating, they can trade them in for things they want (the most popular being a new app for their iPads with three gems--they never get past that!). Of course, there finally came a point where the stones didn't matter anymore, and they just started letting the chores go. So I added a punishment component. If they complete the morning chores, they get their stone and an hour of free screen time. If they don't, they get neither. Guess what has happened now?


So now I have two kids who loathe doing this stupid morning routine and who would rather give up their incentives and moan and whine about that fact all. day. long. rather than just do the stupid chores, which seriously could take all of 15 minutes if they would just DO THEM. I'm at a loss. I mean, yes, we've been a very "by the seat of our pants" family for a long time, so we're trying to break old habits here. But it's not like I introduced all this last week. It's been MONTHS. They hate the consequences of not being ready to go out of the house later in the day, or not being able to have a friend come over. But they're simply not willing to DO anything about it. And I'm loath to make the mornings really contentious because then I have at least one kid who's in a really poor mood for starting schoolwork with me :(


So WWYD here? Increase the punishment? Increase the incentives? Do away with both and call a drill sergeant? Start waking them at 6 a.m. to give the AMPLE time to do their morning chores by 9:30? (Hey, that would actually be a good idea if it didn't cut into the time I need in the mornings!)


I would love to hear suggestions. I truly can't understand how this is all so difficult for them. I hate feeling like I want to scream at them every single morning.



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Two of my children are simply not motivated by incentives or punishments. They care more about their personal power and being autonomous than they do about the harshest punishment.


It reminds me of when my brother was in 1st grade. His teacher would give pretend dollar to the kids that were behaving, and they could buy prizes with them on Friday.


He never misbehaved, but when hodges her gave him a dollar, he would quietly walk over and put it in the trash. He needed everyone to know that he was choosing to behave, not being manipulated to behave.


With my kids like that, I try to win them over so that they really WANT to please me. I give slot of sincere praise when they choose to do chores. I try to make sure they hear me bragging to other people about how grown-up and helpful they are.


I try to present everything as a choice so that they do not automatically resist me. "oh, shoot, I sure hope we can get through with school on time. I really want to have a picnic in the front yard, and practice some tennis this afternoon."


The good news is that we have a good relationship, and most of the time, they happily do what needs to be done to make the household run smoothly, but I expect my house is messier that if I attempted to just control them and force them to do chores.

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It takes time.




Consistency, expectations, and standards are all great things when it comes to chores, but you can't control attitude. They will, and it's not always going to be pretty. We have yet to hit on the perfect method for chores, but we've come away with some pretty good ideas that work decently enough for different ages. When The Teen was younger we had a contract. We all wrote it together and each had copies so we knew what to expect. One thing we hit on was that chores were non-negotiable. They need to be done NO MATTER WHAT.

But.......on the other hand, chores could both be rewarded and earned. Our eventual contract had it written that chores needed to be done by ___am, and if they were a quarter was earned for each chore. If they were not, then the chores still needed to be done and nothing was earned. It was that simple.


The other part of the contract laid out the standards. I made index cards with what I expected: how to do the chore, what it should look like at the end. The color of each card corresponded to a strip with the chore written on it that was tucked in a daily pocket. At the end of the time limit, everything in the "done" pocket was checked and those completed to standards were placed aside for payment, the rest got to be redone. I don't argue, I don't nag. All I have to say is "the chore isn't done". He can whine, complain, argue, but it's hard to keep it up when I repeat four words. Nothing else got done (aside from school) until the chores were done.


And the very last part let him submit a bid for odd jobs. He could look around the house, find something that needed to be done, and submit a paper with a time limit, payment expected, and exactly how much he proposed to do.


We don't use the chore chart anymore but he does contract for jobs. The habits are pretty well ingrained in him to take care of himself, give or take and he doesn't let things get bad in his room or bathroom.

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My thoughts...


My boys are 8 and 6; I see your girls are 9 and 6. We don't do chore lists, although I have begun thinking about doing one for Zee, since he's getting older, and I'd like him to start taking more personal responsibility. The way we're approacing chores right now is Mommy asks you to do something, and you do it. Works well for me. :D But we have an 'everyone helps to run our home/family' attitude.


If you've decided that the girls need to do their lists and be ready for school at 9:30, then that's what they need to do. In our house, complaining about chores just isn't allowed. It's a form of disrespect, IMO, and that's not allowed. My boys have always been taught that they are to obey cheerfully, or at LEAST without complaining. It's just what's expected. If they decide to grumble or complain, they've earned themselves a discussion of how we all work together as a family, how Mommy and Daddy do things we don't want to do, too, etc. I suspect that if the discussions after grumbling weren't working to put and end to the whining, then I'd be adding extra chores for that child until they had enough practice serving without complaint.


Also, I don't believe that children need a regular reward for behaving/obeying. IMO, the reward is a happy, well run family.

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:iagree: This is what I do as well. Whining, complaining, dragging their feet only gets them more of the same so they've learned to just get their chores done and not tempt me to make them clean the toilets or pick up dog poop in the back yard. :001_smile:


When my kids whine about chores they get another chore to do. I also teach them how easy their life is compared to most kids in the world. I save chore time for after school so if they have extra chores it cuts into their fun time.


Hope it helps :)

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