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How to get your child to do the chores, in a tactful way

choresThis is from a letter received by a Merjeo reader:

What to do when a child half-way does chores?

My child used to love helping me around the house. She always received a nice allowance, every Sunday.

I noticed after she went to school this morning, she had only done half the dishes and hid the rest in the fridge. She also only brought out half the laundry from the dryer and left the rest so she wouldn’t have to fold them. I consider this lying.

How do I punish her? Should I take “half” of her allowance back I paid her yesterday? She will also come up with another lie like “Well, maybe you put the dishes in the fridge.”. I know her well. So I will have to punish for that. How to stop this?


Merjeo’s response:

Don’t take any of her allowance back. This will make her resentful, and the problem will get worse. It’s only money, and this is not about money.

Let her keep the money, and then make her earn it. There’s another way, in which she’ll learn responsibility and at the same time, get the chores done.

Prepare a written checklist of the chores. As she does them, have her check each item off.

Take away something she wants until she returns the completed checklist, verified by you of course. If she’s like most kids, she loves playing on a computer. When she goes to school, go to her computer and set a password to get to the main desktop. Then, when she tries to play on her computer, and can’t get in, make a deal with her. “After all the chores are done, I’ll give you the password.” She’ll get those chores done so fast that it will make your head spin. After all, you have something she wants, and she needs to earn it.

Of course, you could give her the password up front, using a suggestion I made in a previous post, but this only works once or twice.

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