10 Ways to Stop Battling with Your Teen About Chores

teenagers doing chores
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If you feel like your chances of getting your teenager to take out the trash without entering into a major battle are fairly slim, you’re not alone. Chores are one of the biggest sources of conflict in many households. These 10 strategies however can increase the chances that chores will get done, without arguing.

1. Give Directions Politely

Although it may seem obvious, many parents forget this step.

Yelling at your teen from the other room, or demanding your child, “Stop acting like a slob,” isn’t likely to get you positive results. When you give instructions about chores, do so in a polite and respectful manner to increase the chances that the job will get done.

2. Don’t Ask Yes or No Questions

Turning your requests into questions may set you up for failure. Asking, “Would you mind taking out the trash?” or “Can you put those dishes in the sink?” makes it seem like it’s optional. Replace questions with clear instructions like, “Please take out the trash during the next commercial break,” or “When you’re done eating, empty the dishwasher please.”

3. Offer Choices When Possible

Whenever you can, offer two choices. Rather than saying, “Set the table right now,” say, “Would you rather set the table now or during the next commercial break?” Teens are less likely to argue when they can make a choice and assert a little bit of independence.

Just make sure you can live with either answer.

4. Ignore Mild Protests

It’s certainly not uncommon for teens to give a little attitude when told to do something. If your teen rolls his eyes or tries to engage you in a discussion about all the reasons why it’s not fair that he has to do chores, simply ignore him and pick your battles wisely.

If his behavior crosses the line from minor disrespect to outright rude, follow through with a consequence.

5. Create a Chore Schedule

In addition to having a few spontaneous chores you may ask your teen to do – like shoveling the steps after it snows – it’s also important to have some regularly scheduled chores. Regular chores may include washing the dishes every day or mowing the lawn once per week.

6. Show Your Teen What You Expect

It’s highly probable that you and your teen have differing opinions about what constitutes a job well done. Show your teen how to properly clean the bathroom or what you expect a clean bedroom to look like. Don’t expect perfection from your teen’s efforts, but do make sure that the job is getting done in a respectable manner.

7. Discuss the Consequences for Not Doing Chores

Talk to your teen ahead of time about what happens if the chores don’t get done. For example, will your teen not earn an allowance? Or will there be other consequences, like getting grounded for the weekend?

Make sure your teen understands the timeline of when you expect chores to be completed.

8. Put a Positive Spin on Getting Chores Done

Rather than talk about what your teen can’t do because the chores aren’t done, offer a reminder of the rewards that will be earned when they’re completed. For example, instead of saying, “You can’t go anywhere because your room is a mess,” say, “You can go out with your friends as soon as your room is clean.” Then, leave it up to your teen to decide how fast he wants to do the work.

9. Provide Plenty of Praise

Praise your teen’s efforts and point out the things that your teen is doing well. Words of encouragement can go a long way to keeping a teen motivated. Try saying things like, “It must feel really good to have all your chores done by dinner time. Now you can relax the rest of the night,” or “You did a great job raking the lawn today. It looks really nice.” Positive reinforcement can boost your teen’s self-confidence

10. Address Problems as they Arise

When problems arise – such as your teen not getting chores done before bedtime - problem-solve the issues together. Be open to your teen’s ideas. Sometimes a few simple changes – like rotating chores after a week or two – can make a big difference.

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