By Dr. Laura Schlessinger 3:27 pm PST

Many parents have a heck of a time trying to figure out how to make their kids do chores, brush their teeth, finish homework, stay off social media, help around the house, and so on.

They try arguing, threats, punishments, begging, yelling, and any other strong-arm technique they can think of.

Most of the time none of that works, relationships in the family sour, and the home is not a peaceful place. It leads to just more negativity for everyone.

I have come to the conclusion that having children take responsibility for their own decisions about cooperating with parental and family obligations works much better.

Instead of punishment for what is not done (taking away electronics and not seeing friends, for example), I have long suggested that just about everything in the child’s life should be earned.

One mother wrote to me to confirm that this suggestion works, “I frequently used this method with my two daughters by allowing the ‘choice’ to be within their power, so they only had themselves to hold accountable if the consequence was not what they wanted.

“For example, anytime I needed something done, I made it a point to only ask them for help once — which would result in either, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry, honey, that you chose not to earn any video game tonight by not helping me with the dishes . . . hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day,’ or ‘Oh, my. Thank you so much for helping me with the dishes tonight.

“You certainly made the cleanup go so quickly. Now, go enjoy your hour video game time.’ Talk about a dramatic decrease in arguments.”

Some parents put up a chalkboard with a column for each child.

The expected chores to be accomplished by a certain time with no obvious attitude or behavior would get points or credits each day.

Children could earn credits by doing extra and showing initiative to go out of their way to be a contributing member of the family.

These credits could also be earned by taking the time to do kind and generous deeds for siblings. The basic premise is that the child is making decisions all the time in how they behave and what they do.

They have the opportunity to weigh the benefits of their decisions and actions, understanding that they earn either the consequence or the reward.

Children typically seek out chores to gain credits toward activities they enjoy and look forward to. The most important point here is that parents stop being adversaries and become benevolent supporters.

No more yelling and bad feelings, which are often difficult to control.

Children need to feel safe, respected, and loved.

Helping them to learn the realities of life by working hard, building integrity, and understanding accountability makes them feel more self-confident and generally leads to a more successful and purposeful life.

The aforementioned parent had a technique for sibling mutual irritation, whining, teasing, etc. I love this one. Mom or Dad would start counting out loud: One, two, three.

That would become the number of minutes they would have to sit out at the beginning of their next fun activity.

Again, totally within the child’s control.

It just occurred to me that implementing these ideas, with you being totally calm and pleasant, makes it hard for them to complain that you are mean.


Dr. Laura (Laura Schlessinger) is a well-known radio personality and best-selling author. She appears regularly on many television shows and in many publications.

Original publication: New Max