As children grow up, many of us begin to contemplate the role of more responsibility and helping out around the house. Yet for many, the trend is to involve kids in more and more activities that they enjoy and seek, while asking less and less of them to help out around the house. As kid’s age and they enter the teenage years, many are conditioned to believe that household chores and responsibilities are ‘not my job.’

When Less is More…

If we want to impress upon our children the importance of helping out, we often begin to talk and lecture. Many times, we reference the ‘good old days’ when we had it so much tougher, and try to use this as leverage to convince them to help out. When they resist, we can easily end up arguing and negotiating to get the simplest of chores completed. After a while, this is exhausting and frustrating.

Some of us fall prey to common themes of nagging and then forcefully demanding that they just ‘do it.’ While this can work for a while, this strategy of parenting will fail you and your children. Eventually, we just keep nagging more and threatening more, all the while creating more conflict and resentment in both our children and ourselves.

Less is more…when it comes to using words to get action or results.

This is the big secret we tend to forget. More words usually just lead to more words (i.e., negotiations, arguments, nagging, and yelling). It does not lead to responsible action or results.

So if we want more action (in following through with responsibilities), the first step is to eliminate all these useless words. Stop nagging, prodding, pushing, negotiating and yelling. Be done with that. Fewer words will actually increase your authority and power over the weeks ahead.

When More Is Actually More…

If we want more real action from our kids, we actually have to take more action, especially when it comes to teaching them about responsibilities and helping out. Typically, we can’t just inform them of what we expect them to do, and have them do it. Most of our children are conditioned to have others take care of everything for them. The transition into responsibilities is usually met with resistance, so we need to expect it and know how to deal with it.

More is more…when it comes to taking action to get your kids to take action.

What do I mean? We need to set up a simple system of leverage this summer, where we take the initial action. If we want chores completed, our kids wake up to a world where they find they have no goodies. The phones, IPads, TV, computer, video games and toys are all unavailable. The car doesn’t work and friends are not accessible.

Now, we have leverage. We will have their attention. Next, we let them understand that this routine will occur each day they have responsibilities or chores. When their responsibilities are done in an acceptable manner, the goodies return. In the world of cell phones, which often take over much of your child’s free time, you must realize the importance of controlling these devices…if you are to have leverage. If you fail to do this, AND you want more responsible action in your home, you will find yourself spinning in circles of frustration and lectures.

Instead: Take action and control the goodies. Then, don’t argue or negotiate with them over this. Just stay action-oriented. Take a deep breath, and wait for responsible action on the part of your kids. You will see results very quickly if you understand when less is more…and more is less.