great question

Here’s a great question about kids and chores I received over a month ago that I’m just now getting around to answering:

Do you do anything to motivate?  Do you threaten?  Punish?  Reward?  Or have you got that machine so well oiled that nothing is needed but a nudge?

A loaded question would be an understatement!

The short answer is: Yes.

I do all of the above. I do whatever works in the moment and for that particular child. Each child, as I’m sure you’re all very well aware, requires different motivations and rewards than the next child. And what worked yesterday doesn’t always work the next day.

It’s very complicated being a parent.

Let me break it down, remembering that what we do doesn’t always work. And what may work for us may not work for you.

But you get to be the one to figure that out. Have fun!

Ah, motivation. Tricky one. At one point with Grant, computer games was all the motivation he needed. Then he went through a phase where it wasn’t. So we had to find something new: money. Then it went back to computer games.

Now? It’s a combination. He loves emailing his friends, but he doesn’t get  to unless his “stuff” is done. That “stuff” is: chores, homework, practicing the piano and trumpet.

Dana, on the other hand, loves to have friends over. That’s her motivation. She doesn’t get to have them over if her stuff isn’t done.

And so it goes. Find what motivates your kids. And as soon as you discover it isn’t working, go back to the drawing board.

I wish I could say I didn’t have to do this.

Not so, my friends. Not so.

My kids are normal. My husband and I are normal parents.

But the good thing about threatening is that sometimes that’s all you have to do. You don’t have to actually take away what you’re threatening to take away because after the threat, they do what they’re supposed to be doing.

Just make sure you’re threatening in a kind way.

Is that possible?

Yes, it is. You can yell and scream, “If you don’t make your bed, you lose the computer!” Or, you could calmly say, “If you don’t make your bed, you won’t get to play on the computer.”

So much better.

You could even sound a little sorry in your voice, like you understand how hard it would be to lose the computer. Add a little, “I hope that doesn’t happen because I know how much you like playing on the computer.”

It works wonders.

Also, you’d better only threaten what you’re actually willing to follow through on. Don’t make a blanket statement like, “If you sass me one more time, you’re grounded for a year!”

Really? You’re going to enforce that for an entire year? You just made your life miserable along with theirs. Have fun with that.

And I can pretty much guarantee you won’t be true to your word on that one.

So be careful with what you say.

By golly, we punish around here.

I guess it goes with threaten, which means my kids aren’t learning their lesson, are they? If they were, they wouldn’t be getting the punishment.

But one thing they are learning is that Mom makes good on her word. I follow through. They keep pushing the boundaries to see if I’ll cave, and I haven’t yet. Let’s hope I don’t.

How about we use a different word here? Discipline.

Now I’m all for that. Kids need discipline. But they need healthy discipline. Beating your children to a bloody pulp isn’t discipline, it’s outright abuse. Don’t ever do it. EVER.

I’m going to say something that’s controversial for many parents . . .

I believe in spanking.


I know. Many consider that as a form of abuse.

But there’s a right way to spank and there’s a wrong way to spank. The wrong way was described above (beating your children to a bloody pulp). Oh, so wrong.

The right way is with control, calmness and restraint. A good swat on the bum every now and then can be a good thing. It’s not my 1st choice of discipline, but it’s in my “tool box” and when I need to use it, I do.

What punishments or discipline do you dish out at your house? If you find yourself out of control with anger, then what you’re doing is wrong. If you’re in control of yourself and just dishing out a consequence, then what you’re doing is right.

But I’m no psychologist.

I’m just letting you know what works for me.

Rewards are essential. They are the feel-good, hard-earned happiness that comes from obedience and doing your chores.

Rewards vary as much as anything else. What works for your kids? If you haven’t figured it out yet, keep trying. There’s always something that puts a sparkle in your child’s eyes.

Don’t be afraid to be liberal with the rewards. Verbal rewards are sometimes all that’s needed, but it doesn’t hurt to have treats, extra time on the computer, staying up later than the other kids, play dates with friends, etc. to use as well. Reward that good behavior because you just might see it more often.

Well-oiled machine
Wouldn’t that be nice? I suppose on certain days it can feel like that, but it’s rare. There’s always a child (or two or three) who’ve had a bad day, are tired, frustrated or sad about something. They therefore are not the best at getting their stuff done without some of the above-mentioned things.

I guess the only thing that’s well-oiled is that my children know what they need to do. There’s no question about that. It’s been drilled into their heads their whole lives.

I guess some people call it brainwashing.

Hmmm. Is that a bad thing? (don’t answer that)

Wordy, wordy, wordy. That’s what this post has been. Sorry about that. I obviously had things I needed to say.

Now off you go to help your children do their chores!

About organizedbyjenn

Busy wife and mother of 7 children; grew up in Oregon, currently lives in Utah. Loves the outdoors, organizing, crafting, running, and eating chocolate
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