Negotiating With Children - 05/01/14
I was perusing the morning headlines and came across this new study (isn't there always a new study?)
Well, this one distinguishes the subtle nuance between phrases that will get your children to clean up their mess. Someone actually took the time, energy and money to study whether we should say to our younger kids... "Some children are helpers," or "Some children choose to help." The study found the former, not the latter, was 29% more effective at getting preschoolers to clean up.
I don't need some study to tell me which word to use when. Little Johnny... you made the mess, we had fun making it, now it's time to clean it up. Plain and simple. That's just the way the world works. I think negotiating with children, beginning at a young age... is dangerous. There are expectations, responsibilities, a natural order to life that we need to implant into our children starting early. It's non negotiable.
We started having our kids sort the silverware from the dishwasher at age
4 1/2. I praised them profusely for a job well done and they found great satisfaction in contributing to our home. It enhanced their self esteem to feel so useful in our family dynamic. Since then, we've added more age appropriate responsibilities. (I call them responsibilities, not chores.) Currently, they fold towels, empty the dishwasher, feed the dogs, water the garden, and clean up their messes. They earn $2 a week.
We started early outlining the expectations. Everyone works and contributes in our home. There's no free ride. I never said, "Some children are helpers" and I certainly never said "Some children choose to help." It's not a choice. Never has been. Never will be. Parents who do that are raising mediocrity and doing their kids a disservice. The real world doesn't give you a choice about being responsible or helping or contributing or earning your own way. The real world requires this.
At our house, we live in the real world. I'm not negotiating with my kids. I'm raising good citizens. Here's that silly study if you care to read: