Q: I have a 12-year-old son and he is so lazy. He never wants to help around the house. He just wants to lay around the house and play video games. I feel like all I do is yell at him and nothing works. How would you handle this?
A: I have a teenager myself and sometimes it is not easy getting them to move. I feel like such a nag at times and I get so tired of hearing myself say the same thing over and over again. There are different approaches that you can try when it comes to this situation. You can take away the video games. Hit them where it hurts the most. One technique I love to use is to tell them what YOU will do. Because at the end of day that is the only thing you can control is you. So for example you might say, “I wash the clothes that make it in the hamper,” or “I will be glad to take you to your friend’s house when your room is clean.” Something that works very well with my own child is trying to get her to take pride in her own work. When she is helping, cleaning or whatever it may be, I always make a point to tell her how much I appreciate her help. She helped me the other day with pulling weeds outside. I know that it was not fun but I told her that she was the best weed puller I have ever seen before. I know that it made her proud on the inside that she did such a good job. My last bit of advice on this is to make it fun. It does not matter what age your child may be, everything is more fun when you are having a good time. If you are cleaning, turn the music up, sing, dance, do whatever you can to at least look like you are having a good time. Remember children emulate what they see us do and if we ourselves are always complaining about things, there is a chance that could rub off on them too. I hope you find something in here to make your life easier.
Q: I am the mom of twin boys, age 3 and a daughter who is 6. I know that at times, I let them do whatever and I never follow through on anything I say. My husband and I both work full-time. I am not trying to make excuses but we are tired when we get home. I know my kids think they can get away with whatever. Help me change my ways before it is too late.
A: I am a firm believer that it is never too late to change and be a better parent. I have been teaching parenting classes for over 10 years and I have had parents of all ages of children from toddlers to teenagers. I will say I think it is something that you have to be serious about and you have to want to change. I completely understand working and then being tired and piling on all the extras after work. My biggest piece of advice is that you have to start enforcing what you say. If you say that its bedtime, it had better be bedtime. If you say, we are going to leave this party if they cannot behave, then leave the party if they do not behave. Every single time a child misbehaves, you have a blank slate to change your ways. You need to set limits once and follow through. It is not easy to do and some days you will do better than others, but every day is a new day to make a change. Try to be consistent though. Every time you do what you say, you are building that reputation up higher and higher with your children until when you say something they know you are serious. It takes time to gain that back though. Do not get frustrated. You will get there.
Q: What can I do when nothing works for my 6-year-old son? When he gets in trouble, I can take toys away, make him go to his room, time outs, and nothing works. He acts as if he does not care at all. Help?
A: Over the years, I have had several parents ask this same question. They will try all of the suggestions that I offer them in class and they come back and say nothing worked. It is very puzzling to me time and time again. I have had parents say we bagged up all the toys and put them in the garage and the child had little or no reaction. One of the first things I would suggest to you is consider what the child was doing to get in trouble. Did it have something to do with getting your attention? Were you on the phone, making dinner or distracted by something else? Often times I think the worst punishment for a child is to be sent to their room or somewhere else where their behavior cannot be put on display. Sometimes children act out in order to get your attention. I tell parents to really think about what their child loves because there is something, you just may not have thought enough about it yet. I think over half the time the answer is being with you. Children love being with their parents…that is… up to a certain age! LOL. Therefore, if taking away toys is not working, time outs are not working, you say to them, “Please go to your room. No one wants to be around you when you act like this. Let me know when you’re ready to come out and be with me.” I am not saying that this will work on every child 100% of the time, but I do think that for a great number of children being with their parents is the only thing they really want. It is not that much fun to be acting that way when no one is around to watch you.