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Getting Your Teenager to Help Out at Home

Small chores fit into her schedule and make her responsible

As a toddler, your child had to help with putting away groceries, dusting and doing dishes. She wanted in on everything you were doing. And it was fun, and funny. Now that same toddler is a teenager who is far less excited about helping around the house. She has her own busy schedule now; she's at the library after school, working on a project with some friends, or off to an extracurricular activity. Freedom is great for teenagers, but they also have to learn responsibility. The chores you are asking them to do at home are the same chores they will have to do when they are in college or out on their own. Set some ground rules and get your busy teen to chip in. It also will provide you with some quality time with your toddler-turned-teen.

Tips for getting your teen to chip in at home

  • Make sure the chores can be done rather quickly and easily. Your teen may be more likely to do tasks that are time limited, given her busy schedule. Quick tasks that have a big benefit like short grocery-shopping trips, and loading and running the washing machine or dryer can easily fit into her schedule.
  • Set clear and consistent expectations.   You know the outcome of the tasks, so let your teen know what you expect. Say things like,   “It's not enough for the laundry to be loaded, the machine must be started, with detergent, on the regular cycle.”   These kinds of instructions can minimize conflicts, giving you and your teen the opportunity to feel good about her participation in chores.
  • Develop a routine. Your teen needs to know a clear timeline for completing tasks. Remind her that, “It's laundry time” on a routine schedule, and it will become easier for her to plan her time.   Work with your teen to set the routine; give her some autonomy to demonstrate the respect you have for her time. This will make her feel like the adult she wants to be and that you want her to be.
  • Say “Thank You.”   Little reminders that you appreciate what your teen is doing will go a long way. She'll know you see and value her work, and will appreciate your approval.  

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