Cleaning House

My kids won't pitch in. Help!

I have a hard time getting my three children to help me with household chores. They whine, they moan, they procrastinate. I work full-time and need their cooperation around the house, but I'm out of creative ideas to motivate them. What can I do?

Try this: Make a list of what you consider privileges—television, Instant Messenger, hang time with friends, computer time, etc.—and explain to your kids that in the real world, you work before you rest, earn before you spend, and pay before you play. Since one of your jobs is to train them to be successful adults, you're doing them a disservice to continue letting them enjoy a free ride. They need to earn their room, board, and bonuses by working around the house.

If I were you, I'd take this opportunity to go beyond just pitching in. Hey, you work full-time—you need more help than that! Think of all the household duties and divide them up between the three children. They can vacuum, load the dishwasher, even do all the laundry. Make a daily chart of responsibilities and post it in a prominent spot.

Make all privileges contingent on completed chores. Sure, they may shirk their responsibilities and say, "I don't care. I don't want to watch TV anyway." But believe me, there will come a day when they desperately want to go to a friend's house, or absolutely have to check their e-mail, or need to watch a television program. That's when you calmly ask, "Are your chores done?" Stick to your guns. You'll probably have to prove you mean business a few times, so don't cave in.

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May 25

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