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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Getting your kids to work together

I recently had a conversation with some friends about getting their two daughters to work together. Some background on their kids... they have two daughters, ages eleven and six. The issue they're having is getting them to work together to clean their room WITHOUT arguing.

So here's what mom and dad have done in the past...
*Dad, tells the girls to clean their room. The result is that eventually one or both of the girls comes out of the room complaining about something.
*So Dad changed his strategy. He tells the girls to clean their room and tells them that no one is allowed to leave the room until the room is clean. So then dad closes the door and waits for the girls to be done. But eventually, (after just a few minutes) he hears arguing.
*So another change in strategy (and this one I actually liked). Dad then divided up the chores so that each girl had a specific chore to do. Dad explained to the girls that they only need to concentrate on their own individual tasks and not worry about what the other person was doing (awesome! way to go dad!). He even made a list and put it up on their bedroom wall. Well, the arguing continued.
*And so dad's last resort was to give each girl 30 minutes to clean their room, separately. To which I said, great idea. I guess I spoke too soon because that said, now they argued about who got to clean first and hearing... "Why do I have to clean first?" and "I cleaned first yesterday."
Wow! Dad really had some great ideas! Unfortunately, kids will always find a way to keep you on your toes. Oh, another issue to tie in with this is that mom and dad have different views on using reinforcements. Mom is more for using positive reinforcements, while dad is more for using punishment (not physical).
*Positive Reinforcement - rewarding good/expected behavior. *Punishment (never in a physical sense) - taking away something that the child perceives as valuable in order to decrease a certain behavior.
My suggestions to them...

*Work out a reward system in which each child will receive a reward after fully completing her chores. This appeals to both mom and dad because for one it is positive. But also has a punishment factor for dad because if a child does not complete her chores then she gets to watch the other receive her reward. Mom is willing to try this out. But dad was not too sure. He thinks that children should just do as they're told. I agree, but then again that would be in a perfect world with perfect children.
*The other suggestion I had for them was the "token economy" and to use stickers such as stars as tokens. Apparently this had also been suggested by the older child (smart kid). And apparently dad had already shot down this idea. But I did explain to him why it was a good idea for his girls, but to no avail.
*So my last suggestion was to ignore the bad/unwanted behavior. And no I don't mean plugging your ears and saying "la la la... I don't hear you... la la la". What i mean is not succumbing to the drama. If a child comes out of that room complaining about something the other one did or did not do, just take it for what it is and tell the child to work it out amongst themselves. Instead of trying (and failing) to fix the situation. I told mom and dad that their girls are smart. I tell them not to fall into the "fix it or correct it" mode every time there's an argument. Let them work it out themselves.
Ok, so I guess we'll have to stay tuned to see if mom and dad follow any of my suggestions. Oh and one last but oh so important note... I told mom and dad how important it is to "follow through"!!!! I've talked about the importance of this concept many times. PARENTS PLEASE FOLLOW THROUGH!!!

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