Ask PWC | What if my kids don’t do their chores?

 Since you were talking about consequences last week, what do I do if my kid does not do his chore?

Photo courtesy of papaija2008 /

Photo courtesy of papaija2008 /

Let’s think through the first few principles in the last post.

1. Requiring chores in upping the structure. Think about ways to increase nurture to support the additional structure. This may include offering to complete the chore WITH your child. While this is not a convenient solution, it’s what a lot of kids need and it provides a point of connection and opportunity to communicate that you’re on the same “side.” Additionally, as hopeless as the situation may feel, it’s likely that your child will not need your help forever or every time. If you decide to do the chore together, make sure to communicate that you’re helping with joy rather than acting like him requiring help is shameful or a punishment.

2. There are not many (if any) imposed consequences that will really solve this dilemma for you. Depending on the chore, there may be some natural consequences that may play out, but they hardly ever happen with the speed and severity that we’re looking for as parents, and a lot of times the natural consequences are inconvenient or annoying for us as parents.

3. If your child has completed chores compliantly in the past, this act of defiance may be communicating a much bigger feeling or emotion that has nothing to do with the chore. It may be that the energy needed to process the emotion leaves nothing left for compliance. If it is a new chore, you may be taking for granted that your child knows how to do the chore. This is where completing it together for a season may help. Also, remember that children from hard places’ emotional ages can be less than half of their gestational or chronological age. If your 8-year-old child is having trouble keeping his room clean or remembering to take out the trash, think about if you’d have the same expectations of a 3 or 4-year-old. You may need to change your expectations without using shame.

If possible, take your frustration out about the situation privately, out of sight and hearing of your child. Vent to a spouse or in an anonymous social media account. Gather your calm, and make a plan for how to present a solution to your child and/or do some detective work to see if there’s an underlying concern.


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