What This Situation Is Like for Parents


You know your child can brush their teeth… or get their shoes on… or even pick their clothes up off the floor. So why, when you ask them to do that same thing now, do they NOT DO what they are supposed to do?! 

It’s not like you have time to sit and watch them to make sure they’re doing what you ask. You have things that need to get done!

And the fact that they might now want to do what you ask doesn’t matter. YOU can’t just slack off when you don’t feel like doing something…

They just need to learn how to do what you know they are capable of doing.  [/expand]


What This Situation Is Like for Kids


One of the reasons kids don’t do “routine” tasks is because they are “routine.”

Kids are wired for stimulation and novelty. They are automatically drawn to any activity that provides engagement. 

So when you ask them to put their plate on the counter and then leave the room to go do something else, they fully intend to put their plate away… but then they start thinking about what they’re going to do later that day… and then they remember that tonight the babysitter is coming, and they really hate the babysitter… and they forget all about the plate.

They struggle to complete monotonous tasks. And then they get in trouble. 



How It Usually Goes

When A Child Won’t Do Routine Tasks (That They Know How To Do)



You ask your son Sam to work on his spelling words. He complains that it’s too hard and that he does NOT want to do it. You saw him do these same spelling words earlier in the week and you know he can do them. 


Mom: Sam, you have to do your spelling! You don’t have a choice. You have a quiz tomorrow!

Sam: No I don’t. I’ll be fine.

Mom: Your teacher said you needed to go over them three times this week. You’ve done it once.

Sam: Leave me alone!

Mom: You can’t just avoid homework just because you don’t want to do it. Be responsible, Sam!

Sam: You are the meanest, worst mom ever.

Mom: If me asking you to do homework makes me the worst mom ever, then I don’t really care.

Sam: I hate you and I’m NOT doing my homework! 


How It Could Go 

When Your Child Won’t Do Routine Tasks (That They Know How To Do)


Mom: Sam, I don’t see you doing your spelling.

Sam: I don’t want to do it.

Mom (frustrated by the comment, she focuses on getting herself out of Yuck and connecting with Sam instead).


[expand title=”CALM”]

Sam’s mom is annoyed by Sam’s comment that he doesn’t want to do his homework. After all, how many things does she do all day long that she doesn’t want to do?!

However, Sam’s mom remembers that kids don’t do what they’re supposed to do when they’re in Yuck, so she calms herself down. [/expand]

Mom: Ugh, it stinks when you have to do something and you really don’t want to.

Sam: It’s just dumb.

Mom: You know what? I bet there’s a reason you don’t want to do it. (She pauses to let that sink in.)

What’s the worst part about doing your spelling?

Sam: It’s boring.

Mom: Ahh, boring. And I know doing boring things is really hard. 


[expand title=”CONNECT”]

Instead of telling him all of the reasons he has to do boring things anyway, Sam’s mom is taking time to understand and care about Sam’s perspective. In that way, she can help him get out of Yuck AND start to understand what’s preventing him from doing what he needs to do.  [/expand]


Mom: Hmm, you do need to get your spelling words done… so what do you think is the solution?

Sam: I have no idea.

Mom: What about doing the words while you’re standing on one foot?

Sam:  No, I don’t want to.

Mom (stays silent).

Sam: But last time when I did them out loud with you it was a little easier for me to get through. Can we do that again?

Mom: Sure.

[expand title=”CORRECT STEP 1″]

Because Sam’s mom recognized that Sam was struggling with a monotonous task, she could correct behavior by offering him a tool — making the task more engaging — to be successful.  [/expand]


…And if Sam STILL won’t do routine tasks


  • Sam’s mom needs to re-state her boundary
  • Sam needs to let out his Yuck, ideally using healthy Yuck Release Strategies
  • While Sam is letting out his Yuck, his mom shouldn’t do much… if she wants him to get through his Yuck Release more quickly, she will show him that she can handle his big emotions.
  • Once Sam has released his Yuck, he will be able to act cooperatively (and focus on solutions for not doing the spelling words) again.


[expand title=”CORRECT STEP 2″]

Sam’s mom recognizes that Sam will NOT act positively, think rationally, solve problems while in Yuck.

He needs to release his Yuck so that he can consider ways to overcome obstacles and act responsibly.   [/expand]



How to Make the In-the-Moment Strategy Work


The “proactive deposits” discussed in the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap will make all of the difference in how this situation plays out in the moment.

If you want to be able to handle the situation when your child won’t do things they have to do, remember:


[expand title=”Depositing into CALM”]

Sam’s mom will not be able to stay calm if

a.) her own biological or emotional “needs accounts” are low or

b.) she has the expectation that Sam will just to do what he is supposed to do without question or difficulty.

When she makes sure her own needs are met and sets realistic expectations PROACTIVELY, Sam’s mom is more likely to be able to stay calm.

See Step 2 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap to learn the reasons for children’s behavior so you can connect more effectively. [/expand]


[expand title=”Depositing into CONNECT”]

Sam’s mom will only be able to connect if

a.) she respects that all behavior has a reason and

b.) she understands those reasons (in this case, monotonous tasks truly are difficult for children)

When she becomes comfortable with the reasons behind behavior PROACTIVELY, she will be able to connect more effectively.

See Step 2 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap for understanding children’s behavior so you can connect more effectively. [/expand]


[expand title=”Depositing into CORRECT”]

Sam’s mom will only be able to correct behavior by offering a tool if

a.) She has demonstrated consistently in the past that when she tells Sam to do his homework, she means it. There is no way he is going to get out of it.

b.) She has made enough deposits into the relationship that telling him to do his homework doesn’t put him into immediate Yuck.

When she demonstrates that she means what she says and when she makes deposits into Sam’s emotional needs PROACTIVELY, she will be able to correct more effectively.

See Step 3 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap  to learn more about improving your influence so you can correct behavior. [/expand]