When I was a contractor, I used to bring my kids on various construction job sites to help me and to learn good work ethics. Years ago back in North Dakota I built a deck on the back side of a house for a couple and their young son. My son Nathan helped me.
One day the lady of the house asked if my wife Michelle and Nathan (about 5 at the time) could come for a visit while I was working and Nathan could play with her young son about the same age. We scheduled a day and made it happen.
Their was a room in the house dedicated solely as a toy room. My wife said it was wall to wall toys and looked as if a tornado hit it. The two moms visited for a while and let the kids play. When it was time to go Michelle told the other mom that Nathan would help pick up the toy room. This was something that we always had our kids do when playing at a friend’s house.
The mom replied, “Our son doesn’t pick up his toys, it’s not in his genes.” Oh really, my wife thought, but refrained from saying it out loud. When she told me the story, my first thought was that picking up a mess will always be in my kid’s genes, because they will feel it in their JEANS if they don’t.
At any rate, my wife politely said that we always have our kid’s pick up their friend’s toys when they play with them. She then proceeded to go into the toy room with Nathan and the other boy. She told them both that it was time to clean up and then made cleaning up the toys into a game. They both loved it. It was like playing longer. In just a few minutes the previously declared national disaster area was clean.
The mom was amazed. For us though, it was standard expected behavior.
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As a parent, if you allow your kids to say no to you when you ask or tell them to do something, you are teaching them to disobey authority. Just because they say “I don’t wanna” or “I don’t feel like it” are not good enough reasons to disobey you. If you don’t have consequences for that type of behavior, it will only get harder as they get older. Can you imagine what their teen years will be like if that behavior is allowed to continue? How about at their place of employment? They won’t last long at a job if they tell their boss no because they don’t feel like doing something he tells them to do.
In order to get your child to do something, you have to find out what is going to motivate your child to do what you want him to do. For that lady’s son, he was motivated by fun. Michelle made it a fun game to pick up the toy room.
Something else that helps with kids is to prepare them in advance of your planned schedule. You don’t like to have abrupt changes forced on you, and neither do they. If you give them a little notice, they won’t be stressed with the change. Things will go much smoother. If you or your child needs to be somewhere at a certain time, give your child an hour notice. Then give them another reminder at 30 minutes. Say something like “In about 10 minutes I need you to pick up your toys and get ready to go to …”. After 10 minutes, tell them “It’s time to…”. If they choose to disobey, you will have to determine what the consequences are for disobedience.
If you have been training your kids that saying no to you is ok (by training I mean by allowing them to get away with it), it is time to make a change. You are going to have to work at it. It may be hard at first, but don’t give up. Find out what will motivate them to do what you want. Make it a game and challenge for yourself to figure out what it is.
You can’t change your child’s DNA, but you can motivate his genes, so he doesn’t have to feel it in his jeans.