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A Mom Asks: How Do You Get Your Teen to Do Chores?

By August 14, 2009

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A mom on our forum asks: My daughter (will be 15 in 3 weeks) has to be reminded constantly to do her chores. Chores she's been doing for years and I'm still having to nag. I know, take things away. But how do I decide what exactly?

Do I say, next time I have to remind you to unload the DW you lose X? Do I remind her once (a warning)? does she have to do this chore after the DW is finished (loading turning it on is my job) within 5 minutes, 15mn, an hour half a day before X is gone daddy gone?

Is X cell phone time? (I don't pay for her minutes dad does so min. aren't an issue) Ok and how long? She is capable of going nuts over the loss of her cell phone. Is X something else? No activities with friends?

She is stubborn and overall a good kid very involved in school, sports, but very willful. Yes, I am coming across sarcastic, but sadly because I really can't come up with the answers myself!

Last November I found out she was sneaking her boyfriend in our house and having sex! Blew my mind - she's not even allowed to date yet. In the face of this really bad s**t I handled this crisis so well I was so proud of myself.

The kid was pretty much in complete lockdown, BUT with HOPE. I told her you want your life back you have to earn my trust again. It took almost 6 months and we had the best relationship during that time we'd had since she became a teen.

Don't ask me what I did about chores then. They just got done somehow. Me, her, whoever - don't remember. Things just worked, clicked... And here I am asking you all a stupid question about chores.

Denise's thoughts: My dd is a pretty good kid too. But, getting her to remember and do a chore before she flitted off somewhere or got on her cell phone, etc. was like pulling teeth. Since I use the cell phone as leverage for grades, I had to do something else for chores. While I had a few choices(earning her ability to go out with friends, taking the Ipod until the chore was done, etc) I chose to stop giving her money and put her on an allowance that she had to earn. I was always the one who paid for the movies, magazine subscriptions, cute clothes, etc.

Sit down and draw up a contract. Tell her that you give her this money because it's part of being in the family. These things aren't necessary, but they are nice to have. Explain that you really want her to have these things, that is why you are going to provide her with the ability to get them.

Next explain that chores are also a part of being in a family. These little jobs meet your family's needs and when they aren't done in a timely manner without putting undo pressure on someone else it has a negative affect on the whole family, including her.

Then tie an amount to each chore, write it down. Write down how much time you'll give her to get the chore done. Explain that you will not ask her to do the chore. She knows what she has to do and she needs to take that responsibility. If the chore isn't done in the allotted time, do it yourself and she doesn't get paid for it. This hasn't happened often in our home, but she missed the money when it has which helped get it done the next time.

And on a side note: there are no stupid questions ;-)

Asking our community: How do you handle chores in your home? Does your teen do them without being nagged or is it a pet peeve for you? Please share your stories, opinions and advice in the comments area.

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August 14, 2009 at 8:46 am
(1) Trisha says:

It could be possible that she is bored of doing the same chores every day. This happened with my kids, they had the same chores every day and it was a struggle to get them done. Now every morning I make a list of the things that have to get done for the day and they pick what they can do for me. I don’t ask them. When they have finished with something they cross it off and put an initial beside it. I do what is left. Money is scarce some weeks and they need to learn responsibility, so I don’t pay for chores and I don’t give an allowance. I allow them to earn money by doing bigger chores, such as mowing the lawn, babysitting ect.. and I pay for phone minutes or movies. Also you could try the approch that she take care of her and not do it for her. Her laundry, room, dishes, and bathroom could all be her responsibility and let her know is she doesn’t take care of it she is the one who will wear dirty clothes, eat off dirty dishes and have no clean towels for her shower. After a couple weeks of doing it all on her own she will gladly help with the dishwasher just so you will help her with her things. Taking things away probably won’t work, because it will just become a power struggle and when she gets it back she will just forget her chore again.

August 14, 2009 at 8:27 pm
(2) Michael says:

I purchased deck of chores which are chores printed on with custom playing cards.

We play card games on Sunday night and whatever cards are left in the hand, they take on for the following week.
They come with 4 cards that have no chores on them so I can write in a few of my own.

I also leave them in the hallway so if they ask for something extra, I ask them to pick a card and do the chore.

Good Luck

deckofchores dot com

July 8, 2010 at 1:30 am
(3) bren says:

I’m very frustrated. My daughter is good student, set high goals in sports, ect., does well except for any chores. I can ask her to unload dw, clean up kitchen after herself, pick up socks, she won’t move until i’m gone and then it’s hours later, if at all. Normally i have to repeat myself over & over until she says, listen to yourself, you don’t know how to ask me to … litigating some pt I don’t even know.

July 29, 2010 at 11:31 am
(4) gloria lewis says:

my daughter soon will be 14, and its hard getting her to do chores, i will turn tv, off, if that doesn’t work i take her ipod she start doing her chores, but this is not always going to work i will have to try and find something different

October 25, 2010 at 11:05 am
(5) elaine cook says:

I remarried one year ago and now have a stepdaughter who will be sixteen next month. Her father and I can’t get her to do anything. Her grades are terrible. She won’t turn in assignments or study. What’s worse is she lies when asked about these things and blames it on the teachers. I can’t get her to do any chores. I tried leaving her room and laundry until it is so bad she has to do something about it, but she doesn’t seem to care. We have taken everything away so she just reads. We have tried paying her for chores, but that hasn’t worked. We have grounded her, but she still won’t do ANYTHING! This was a problem before her dad and I married so it isn’t a result of our marriage. She won’t even push her chair in or put her own dishes in dishwasher. This is beginning to affect our marriage. I don’t know what else to do. I am at the breaking point. Any ideas?

December 29, 2011 at 1:12 am
(6) Janelle says:

Elaine Cook…I understand how much pressure teenagers can put on a marriage. I’m in your husbands position and I have 3 teenagers 14,13 year old twins and let me just say, my marriage has taken a huge beating. I’ve tried to get my kids to help more, not complain and argue about their chores (they have one a Fay plus one weekend day to help with the house). It’s not much, bit it’s still a drain. My husband feels it’s my fault for not putting my foot down sooner and giving too much. I feel that I have tried and I never felt that I spoiled them. Here’s my question: have you and your husband decided to reward yourselves with nights out or a weekend away? I think focusing on your marriage and rewarding your relationship is very powerful for the kids to see. Also, you both being united and on the same page with expectations and rules. Two years, she will be an adult and you will be left to pick up the pieces of your marriage but there might be too much resentment. Take time together, less focus on the daughter, and be each others sounding board. Forgo xmas/birthdays…just buy necessities and let her know you and dad will go the extra mile when she does. Good luck!

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