Friday, October 29, 2010

The Talking Back Sydrome/ Getting the Chores Done

If there is anything in the world that makes me want to send one of my kids on a trip across the room, it's talking back. Just one simple request can turn into an hour long debate...which is longer than it would have taken to get the job done. And it DRIVES.ME.CRAZY!

Here is an example:

Me: Hey, Lucas, can you help me by cleaning up this room real quick? It should only take you five minutes.

Lucas: Can you just ask the other kids to do it? They were the ones that made the mess.

Me: Right, they probably were, but I asked you to clean it up.

Lucas: That's not fair. I was just sitting here. I didn't make this mess.

BLA BLA BLA excuses excuses goes on and on and on.

I have learned to use some tricks to avoid these debates, and I gotta tell you: From 3 years old (maybe even two) all the way up to (almost) 11 years old, these tactics work far better than asking children to do something on the fly. Understand that these ideas work for me, because I have several children to split the responsibilities between - if you only have one child,'ll probably have less chores for them (and more chores for you).
A Raffle

Get the basket out and write a chore down on pieces of paper. Put those pieces of paper with the chores on them into the basket and let the children "win" them, like a lottery. They each get to draw a chore. I am always surprised at how well this goes over.

A Weekly Chore Chart
Create a weekly or daily chore chart on a white board or a large piece of paper. Display it on the fridge or somewhere where everyone will see it. Each week, I trade off who is in charge of which part of the house, that way no one gets stuck doing the same room/area over and over again.

These are the two examples that work well for me...what do you do to avoid the talking-back syndrome?

By the way, as an addendum of sorts, I wrote another blog post called Chore Chart for Large Families. It has been working for me for many months now! I think, if used in a similar way and on a smaller scale, it could work well for smaller families, too.


  1. Nothing as constructive as you! I just walk away or I give my mean face. That will get them rolling. I'm the mom that makes the neighbor's kids clean up after themselves before they leave my house, though. Very good post, and I love the chart. I had one for my son, but I think I'll go back to it. Do you reward them after the week is done? I used to take my son to the dollar store.

  2. LOL...Do you get rewarded for cleaning the house?

    We don't have a structured reward system, so to speak. I think children need to learn that being clean and organized reaps rewards that are not going-shopping-at-the-store oriented. Like, being able to find a clean cup when you are thirsty and knowing where your clothes and shoes are when it's time to get dressed.

    However, if we experience beyond-the-norm cooperation or hard work, we'll try to reward the behavior with something special.

  3. One thing I learned as head teacher of a daycare classroom of school aged children was to change my phrasing. Instead of wording what I want the child to do as a request/favor ("Hey ___, will you pick up the legos for me?") or even a question ("Can you pick up your toys before we go outside?") to word it as a direct order and to word the order in such a way as to convey that this is what has to be done, not for me, but because it is the expectation. ("____ You need to pick up all the legos now.")

    Doesn't always work...but definitely helped minimize the backtalk I received. Then I move on to the broken record approach of repeating myself.

  4. Thanks for the "talking back" tips.I'll give them a try.I have an 11 year old that tends to be sassy.I'm a follower of yours on GFC,Twitter & Facebook.
    Please feel free to follow me back.


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