As much as many kids are reluctant to admit it, a new school year is just around the corner. We’re already seeing the back-to-school ads on television and many websites.
What can we as Love and Logic parents do right now, during these final weeks of summer, to help our kids enjoy the best academic success when they return to class? The answer may surprise some of you: Ensure that our kids are contributing to the family by consistently helping with housework, yard work, and other duties.
Kids in the habit of successfully completing chores are far more likely to develop a habit of successfully completing academic assignments.
In one of my books, From Bad Grades to a Great Life, I describe why chores meet an essential human emotional need: The need to feel needed. When we treat our kids like guests in a five-star, all-inclusive resort, their true self-esteem plummets and they develop attitudes of entitlement.
Low self-esteem and entitlement go hand in hand. Both equal low achievement motivation.
To prevent this from happening… or to begin the process of healing… follow Love and Logic’s ABC's for training kids to do chores:
A: Assign every member of your family some meaningful contributions.
Ask yourself, “What am I doing that my kids could do on a regular basis?”
Many parents find it helpful to post this list on the refrigerator complete with names next to each contribution.
Caution: Don’t say, “Do it now.” This just creates power struggles. Instead, allow them to have a deadline for each contribution.
B: Be quiet.
Avoid reminding or nagging. Remember: Kids who have to be nagged into doing their chores are kids who need to be nagged into doing their schoolwork and homework.
C: Consequences preceded by sincere empathy will do the teaching.
When their children refuse to do their chores, forget, or do them haphazardly, many parents find it helpful to complete the chore for their child… and expect their child to repay the time and energy expended to accomplish those contributions.
Sometimes this means doing extra chores for the parent. Sometimes this means staying home or doing without some privilege so that the parent has time to rest and relax. Other times this means paying the parent or a professional to do the job. A memorable example involved a teen who had to pay a maid service to complete her housework contributions.
The key to success hinges on sincere empathy! Remember: Anger and frustration create resentment, while sincere empathy creates responsibility.