Q&A: Motivating lazy teens to help around the house

Question:

How can I motivate my two lazy teenagers? They won’t help me around the house. As a single mum, I don’t have the energy to make them get to work. Is there a way to break this negative pattern?

Answer: Being a single parent is tough, especially when the children are being uncooperative. Unfortunately, even though you’re exhausted, you need to establish clear rules and guidelines for your teens—and then be prepared to enforce them.

You might start by employing what psychologists call “Premack’s Principle,” which states that preferred behaviours can be used to reinforce unpreferred behaviours. For example, explain to your children that leisure activities (TV, Xbox, going out with friends, etc.) will be off-limits until homework and household chores are completed. Sit down with them before implementing this system, and explain your love for them and your desire for them to learn responsibility. Let them know that as members of the household, they need to contribute to the overall functionality of your home.

Once you’ve established these rules, it’s imperative that you follow through. Stick with it even when you don’t feel like being tough. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into arguments about the finer points of the new standards. To avoid this, we’d suggest that you put everything in writing. Draw up a contract that clearly spells out both the rules and the rewards. Each of you should sign your names to the contract and post it on the refrigerator. If you stick to the plan faithfully for a few weeks, you should start to see some positive changes in your teenagers’ behaviour.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.  

Share

MORE

MARRIAGE

Marriage

PARENTING

Stress Tests

Do you sense that your child is stressed out over school tests? Find out how you can help them face these times with confidence rather than fear.

Read More >

Q&A: Teaching discernment or making it a rule

How do we establish workable media standards for our teenagers? I understand the importance of teaching thoughtful discernment, but sometimes I feel the need for more solid guidelines in order to gauge the merits of movies, television programs, and music. Can you suggest anything?

Read More >

Parenting

FAMILY Q&A

Q&A: Honouring my dad who abandoned us

I hate Father’s Day. My dad never said, “I love you,” or told me he was proud of me. Eventually, he abandoned our family completely. He was never a positive influence in my life – why should I honour him?

Read More >

Q&A