NUGGETS OF GOLD a monthly Blog by David Nofziger
Mastering the Checkup Time
August 1, 2020
One of the most frustrating things for parents is when their children do not do their chores. We often give them simple jobs to do, and yet, they often act like we are slave masters. They grumble, resist, and complain. It is so hard to get them away from the television, or in the last decade, their devices.
We kindly ask them to clean their room (which is only once a week), and they ignore us as they continue to play their computerized game. We next say it a little louder to make sure they have heard us. Same response. Finally, we march into the room and yell, “How many times do I have to tell you to clean your room?” Young children act like we just abused them and start crying, and the older children look at us like we’re weird and say, “Chill, why the attitude?” We end up just giving up and cleaning the room ourselves. It is much easier. Children have become very good at manipulating their parents to get out of that dirty four-letter word – WORK. But the truth is, children need to develop a good work ethic as well as self-discipline if they are going to grow up into healthy, successful adults, and all of us as parents want that for our children.
I want to suggest an alternative way, which I call “Check-up Time.” I have been using this plan for many years to help parents improve their parenting skills. If you are consistent in following the procedure and mastering it, you will most likely be delighted with the results. I will add that this works best with two parents working together and starting the process when children are young. But it can help even if you are a single parent and your children are a little older.
First, as a couple, develop a simple chore chart appropriate for each child depending on their age. You may want to do some research to discover what tasks are suitable for children at different stages as they develop physically and mentally. Do not overload the chart. Your goal is to get your children to do a few things consistently and to develop some good work habits. When they are young, you want to teach them to be responsible for cleaning their room and putting away their toys at the end of the day. Then gradually, as they grow into the teen years, they need to learn how to do everyday household chores to prepare for adulthood. Create a chart for each child that clearly shows what they are to accomplish each day of the week and display it prominently for all to see. Each task must also be easy to check on to observe if It has been completed or not. Once you have the chore chart laid out in a written form for each child, you are ready for step two.
Now it is time for a family meeting. At the meeting, let each child know how much you love them. Let them know that they are so smart that you do not have to tell them what to do every day anymore. Instead, you have a chore chart that they can follow on their own after they get home from school. You can start this as soon as they can read. Review the chart and make sure they each understand their responsibilities. You may be thinking, “I tried the chore chart, and it didn’t work.” You may not have understood an essential part of the plan.
The essential ingredient is understanding that children want to get out of work, not do extra work. Therefore, what you say next is vital. Let them know that after they get home from school, they can complete their chores for the day at any time, but they must have them finished by the checkup time. The checkup is a prearranged time decided by you as parents. It is best to make the checkup time after the evening meal, but at least a half-hour before bedtime. Then clearly let them know that at checkup time, if they do not have all their chores completed, they will have to complete any tasks not done, and they will get an extra chore. If you want, you can list the extra jobs that you will be choosing from, and make sure these are chores that each child definitely does not want to do. Also, let them know that the extra task is simply a reminder to get all of their chores done before checkup time. Those children who have completed their chores by checkup time can immediately go and play.
The rest is up to you as the parents. If you are consistent in following the plan, there is a good chance you will succeed. If not, you will fail. Therefore, let’s talk about your responsibility. Try as best as possible to get all of your chores done before checkup time, so you have time to follow-up with your children. Don’t say a word to them when they get home from school. Then at checkup time, go through each child’s chore list separately with that child beside you, starting with the oldest first. Two parents can each take different children, which makes it more manageable. It is doubtful that any of your children will have their chore chart completed the first day except the most self-motivated children. You say to each child that hasn’t completed the list, “Oh, you forgot. OK. I will now supervise as you complete each task, and then you will have to do your extra chore when you complete your list. So remember, tomorrow, get everything done so you don’t have to do the extra job because if you forget tomorrow, you will have two extra jobs.” Then just sit there and watch them do each of their chores. If they ask why you are not helping, smile and say, “I completed all my chores, I get to relax now, which is what you could be doing if you had completed all your chores.” Oversee them until they have finished, commend them for their excellent work, and tell them they can now go play. Then move to the next child.
You may be thinking, “Wow, that is going to be a lot of work.” It will definitely take time for a while, and you will have to be patient, but remember to relax and not get angry. Instead, be firm and consistent in following through with each child. It doesn’t matter if they throw a fit; they still have to get the work done. Don’t let them manipulate you anymore. If you are consistent, they will come around and start getting their work done on time because they are smart – they don’t want to have to do extra work.
No matter how long it takes, be consistent with this plan. It will pay off in the long run. Your children will eventually get into a good habit of doing their chores. Then each day, commend then at checkup time, tell them what good workers they are, go play with them, and have some fun together before bedtime. You, of course, will have to make this work with your family and time schedules, so be creative. Remember, your children need to develop some good work habits and self-discipline so they can grow to be healthy, productive adults.
Nuggets of Gold is a monthly Blog focused on Personal growth, Marriage Improvement, and Parenting Issues. Your comments can be entered below. They are always welcome and suggestions for future posts are appreciated. Thank you for allowing me to share these thoughts with you.
David Nofziger has been the director and lead counselor at Hope Alive Counseling Services in Defiance since 1989 and author of “Brain Washed, Transforming Your Self-Image through the Amazing Love of God.” He and his wife, Sue, attend Family Christian Center in Defiance where they head up the church’s mission program. Visit HopeAliveCounseling.com for more information.
BRAIN WASHED Transforming Your Self-Image Through the Amazing Love of God, by David Nofziger.
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