Just to be clear – this is EVERY parent's challenge – with or without complex kids!
You want to get your kids to help around the house, right? You want them to willfully participate in home life. You want them to volunteer to take out the trash, help with the dishes, or put away the laundry.
It's true – sometimes as parents, our fantasy life would be fulfilled if our kid would just say to us, "Wow, mom or dad, you've had such a long day. Let me take care of that for you!"
Now, this tip may not fulfull your every fantasy, but there is a rather simple approach to getting kids to help around the house more over time, and it has two steps:
Step 1: Express Gratitude
Yes, gratitude…for anything helpful they do, despite their tendency to be otherwise self-absorbed. They are kids, after all!
Simply put: cultivate your kid's helpfulness by saying thank you – a lot.
Yup. Say thank you for the everyday things that are 'expected' of them, like clearing their plates and putting their clothes in the hamper, not just for the things that are extra.
Everyone wants to hear that they are appreciated. Adults still like to hear when we’re doing a good job, even if we get paid to go to work. Kids feel the same way.
Step 2: Ask for Help -- Nicely
Besides, when we act as if our kids don’t deserve our appreciation, we miss the chance to tap into their motivation.
By a certain age, your kids may not be motivated to ‘do things for mommy and daddy’ any more, but they actually are quite motivated by having a healthy, loving, mutually respectful relationship with their parents. Seriously – they really do want to love and like their parents.
So instead of always telling your kids to do things, consider asking them. Start inspiring them to want to help, just a little bit more each day. When you want something done, say something about it -- and ask if they might be able or willing to helping. And thank them for considering it, even if they don't step up this time.
For example, "There is a lot of trash in the yard from all these rains and I was thinking we really need to get it cleaned up. Would you be willing to help with that? I'd really appreciate it."
Now that won't necessarily get the desired results the first time, or every time. But it's a start to get kids to help around the house. An environment of gratitude and mutual respect will go a long way to helping your child take ownership of increasing responsibility in the home.