15 Sep 2014
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Routine Chores are No Longer a Game to Teens

How do you keep your kids on task as they grow older?

Routine Chores are No Longer a Game to Teens


About seven years ago, a special waffles and ice cream breakfast would motivate my grade school-aged children to get up early on a busy summer day.

It was the same magical time period when routine chores could be transformed into games.

“Let's see who can gather the biggest leaf pile!", or "How far can you fling the dog poop over the fence into the wild wooded part of the property” fun approach was used to get things done.

Now, my high school scholars don’t buy it.

With audible glee at the close of another season of academic routine, they envision days of summer chilling; hanging with friends, texting, playing video games, a week at camp, Facebook, and more texting.

I envision structure, balance and shared family responsibilities.

My husband simply states, while explaining new summer chores and expectations at family meetings, “we are not here to make you happy.”

Chores are expected to be completed regardless of any award or allowance tied to them. And, clarification is necessary in our household. “Walking the dog is not a five-minute outing,” I state.

Dr. Patty McLean, school psychologist for District 64 in Niles/Park Ridge explained, “as part of a family we all have responsibilities, including teenagers. They (teenagers) will be on their own soon, so learning how to juggle and fitting in priorities, organization and time management is important.” 

Expectations differ among families. About a year ago, my husband had our 16-year-old son learn how to tune up and change the oil in our car. Amidst grumbling, the drain plug for the oil pan was stripped. Eventually the task was completed.

Two days later he exclaimed to his friends, “Yeah, I changed the oil in the car Saturday.”

Knowing the flow into adulthood will be much easier for kids who are accustomed to having such family responsibilities, admittedly at times I’ve nagged and yelled.

Sometimes even shouting, “You are so lucky to be in this family!” to which my son responded, “You are lucky to have me”. 

Yes, we are. 

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