Getting Teens to Contribute More Around the House  


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16/03/2019 7:52 pm  

So many parents have teens who don’t contribute enough.

In our defense, teens are often busy with other things. And it IS easier to just do things ourselves than get into power struggles with them.

But that doesn’t mean it’s too late. In the next few posts I’ll start with ideas for how you can get your teens to do more around the house.



As I’ve mentioned before, one of the best ways to motivate teens is to give them CONTROL and RESPECT -- and it’s definitely not different when you’re starting to ask them to do things they don’t feel like doing. The best way to approach this is to use the Joint Problem Solving Strategy, which incorporates both control and respect.

There is a brief training that goes through this in more detail, but basically the steps are:

  1. Let them know what the boundary is (the task you’d like them to do)
  2. Ask them what it will be like for them to have to do that task. Your job is to just listen (don’t become defensive / justify your rule / tell them how spoiled they’re acting, etc.) when they complain to you about how much they don’t want to -- or think they should have to -- do the thing you ask. You need to respect their perspective if you a.) want to understand what the real issue is and b.) want them to be open to taking responsibility and solving the problems needed to get there.
  3. Brainstorm ways for them meet the boundary given the issues that they brought up in step 2.
  4. Chose one of the plans from step 3 that you both agree to.
  5. Decide TOGETHER what you will do if the plan in step 4 is not followed.
  6. Set a time to check in to make sure the plan is working for everyone.

You may want to start this process with just one task. Once you both have some success with this task, it’s easier to add more later.



In the last post where I talked about getting teens to contribute, I encouraged you to use the “Joint Problem Strategy,” which allows you to set a boundary while treating teens with RESPECT and giving them some CONTROL.

Another tip I have for motivating cooperation when it comes to chores specifically is to have a set time when they’re supposed to do things -- maybe they need to clean their room on Sunday or unload the dishwasher on Tuesday nights. I mentioned this concept of consistency when we were talking about electronics as well….That’s because, in general, when you allow routines to determine the schedule a.) their brains get used to the expectation and they resist less and b.) the routine becomes the boss instead of you!

To make it even more likely that they’re going to what they’re supposed to do, consider doing chores as a family all at the same time. When EVERYONE is cleaning on Sunday afternoons -- especially if you’re all listening to music or finding another way to get through the discomfort -- it just seems like less of a hassle to them.



In the last post where I talked about getting teens to contribute, I encouraged you to use the “Joint Problem Strategy,” which allows you to set a boundary while treating teens with RESPECT and giving them some CONTROL.

I just want to reiterate one part of that process, which is to make sure you are determining a “consequence” if a teen’s plan for getting chores does does NOT happen. When teens know that they can get away with something, they will spend a lot of energy trying to get away with something. If they know we will follow through, consistently, they are more likely to step up.

So you do want to make sure that when the consequence is determined, it is something you know you can follow through with each and every time. I know many of you will want me to come up with an appropriate consequence, but the truth is, your teen really has to be involved in this decision. (Remember: they need respect and control!) Just make sure that whatever they do suggest, it is something you can follow through with each and every time.



Until now, I’ve given a few points about getting teens to contribute more:
- Use Joint Problem Solving (which incorporates respect and and control) to determine the chores that will get done.

- Be sure to be consistent with both the timing and consequences of chores.

One other important thing to consider is your current relationship with your teen. You may not think your relationship has anything to do with chores, but if your relationship isn’t in a good place and your child wants to say “screw you” in some way, not doing what you ask them to do is a good way to do that.

The truth is that we do listen to people more when our relationship is in a good place. Think about it… Who do YOU feel like doing things for (especially things you don’t really want to do)?



One of the main reasons kids don’t like to do chores is because it’s boring… and for teens (who are automatically drawn to stimulation, novelty, and engagement AND who may have grown up being overstimulated by electronics ), BORING = UNCOMFORTABLE. And instead of facing discomfort, they AVOID it -- especially when they're something more engaging (talking to friends, playing video games) that they could be doing.

As adults, many of us have strategies for getting through uncomfortable chores… We listen to music, or we reward ourselves when we’re doing with them. As adults we ALSO have a fully developed prefrontal cortex --  which allows us to get through boring tasks more easily.

Since they don’t have either of these things, we can teach them how to make “boring” tasks more engaging so they can get through them. Ask them if they have any strategies. If not, suggest strategies, but, as you may expect, you can’t patronize your teen by suggesting something too silly. And you also want to defer to them as an expert. You could say something like, “I’ll tell you the strategies that I use, but they may seem dumb to you. Let’s figure out what will work, because the chores have to get done but I respect that you really don’t want to do them.” (As always, the more you respect them and give them a sense of control, the better this will go!)

This topic was modified 3 months ago 2 times by rachelb


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