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Why Won't My Kids Do Their Chores?

Updated on August 20, 2012

© by Jennifer McLeod writing as jenjen0703, all rights reserved.

A Little R&R


Chillaxin' After Work

..."Today has been such a long day. Eight hours on my feet at work, at least a hundred trips up and down the stairs at work, and I still have at least three hours of homework to do when I get home, as well as dinner to cook. It's alright, because it's summer break, and the kids have been home all day, so I'm sure their chores are done. Hopefully my workload will be minimal when I return home."

As parents, how many of us have thought these same words, made the same wish, or had the same hopes? Our wonderful children, who mind us so well, who do not give us any troubles, will be angels all day while we are at work.

Then, I arrive home, and reality sets in like a head-on collision as soon as I walk through the door. Not only was the house not picked up according to the chore list I left my kids that morning, but it was messier than it was when I left for work. Why is it so difficult for my children to complete their chores?

After seeing the appearance of the living room, I venture through the house to the dining room, as a football and remote control car become weapons meant for me to trip and fall over. Alright, now I have made it to the kitchen. Oh my gosh, it looks like a bomb went off! Where are the kids and what are they doing? I follow a trail to the kids' room, and there they are, right where I left them nine hours ago, playing video games.

At this point, I am ready to pull my hair out of my head. But, I love my long, blonde hair, so instead, I choose to shut the power off on my children in the middle of whatever they are doing. I do not care about "save points" or "I need to finish my mission!" It has officially become a "you are grounded from all electronics" type of day. Of course, the kids are now mad at me, too, as they have to surrender their video game controllers for an indefinite confiscation.

So much for "chillaxing" when I return home from work...

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Reality Check

I have news for you: raising children today is not what it was like in generations prior to ours. What happened to the belief that is spoken in the Bible, "Spare the rod, spoil the child." But, what is the "rod?" In literal terms, I believe the word "rod" would imply a pole of some type, or it could be a wooden stick used for the whippings or beatings of others.

So, does this mean we are supposed to beat our children with "rods" to make them listen to us? No, that is not what it means. RULE OF THUMB, if you beat your children with rods, you could have your child taken away by Child Protective Services. I believe the word "rod" is used in a metaphorical manner, meaning it represents something else. The "rod" is the discipline a parent uses to raise and train their children. I am not opposed to spanking a child, but the manner in which you approach that child and deal with him or her will make a difference in the outcome of the spanking for the child. In my home, stealing and lying are automatic spankings. I have told my children that since they were toddlers. I do not beat my children with rods, and honestly, I cannot tell you the last time I have had to spank one of my children, maybe four months ago? (If anyone knew my youngest son, four months without a spanking is impressive, as he suffers from ADHD and ODD and is a handful to manage).

Another way to look at the word "rod" could mean the consistency parents need to use with their kids. Some parents spend so much time yelling at their children every day for the same thing, instead of handling the situation. A confrontation with a teenager can intimidate some parents. My step-son is now about 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs 280 pounds. Spanking him was impossible by the time he reached 11 years old, but by this age, children shouldn't be getting spanked much anymore.

Accountability and Consistency

I think the best ways to manage children, now, are through holding them accountable for their actions and being consistent with the methods you use to discipline them. Accountability is not a value many children and teenagers hold today, but they need to. Life as an adult is no fun if you lie your way through life. Being consistent in discipline is important. Children should not be able to "get away" with things at certain times and punished for them at other times.

How did I cure the summer chore problem? It took about a week to get the kids' full cooperation, because they were still mad at me for grounding them. For example, this summer I taught my 9-year old how to wash dishes and stack them neatly in the dish drainer. Initially, he thought he could rinse the dishes in soapy water without washing them and put them into the dish drainer to dry. I was mean, I will admit it. When he was almost done with the dishes, I decided to check them. So many of them were still dirty. How did I handle it? I dumped all the dishes back into the dishwater and told him to start over. I have only had to do that with him twice, as he learned quickly that he could be washing dishes in a short amount of time, or he could wash dishes all day long. The bottom line is IT WAS HIS CHOICE.

Another rule in the our home in the summertime is that the kids cannot play video games until their chores are completed. It is like a miracle day to hear my 10-year old ask me what his chores are for the day, 20 minutes after he wakes up (he has to eat as soon as he crawls out of bed). The first time he did it, I pinched myself to see if I was really awake. But, surprisingly, he maintained this behavior all summer.

Alternative Discipline Method

Consider this idea the next time your child or teenager is in trouble and you decide to ground him or her. This idea only works if the children involved are close to each other in age. Take away your child's favorite "toy" and give it to a sibling to enjoy during the grounding period. You may find out that your child will stop getting into trouble. It is one thing to ground a child, but to give his or her siblings their property to use? This is unthinkable to most children, so I consider this discipline method twice as effective than grounding them alone.


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    • myrtle McKinley profile image

      myrtle McKinley 

      6 years ago

      Hi JenJen,

      Loved this hub. It reminded me of my mother saying, "You are a member of this family, not a lodger, therefore you have certain responsibilities to contribute you time and efforts to maintain the smooth operation of this household. There was no whining or complaining, because the statement made sense. We complied with very little fanfare.

      Thanks for a great hub, and could you please check me out, as I am new to hubbing, Thanks, Myrtle

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      This is good. I like the short video..good humor. Yes, times have changed and discipline is really a question of "who's in charge here?" I like your approach to being consistent with training children to make good choices.

    • Sky9106 profile image


      6 years ago from A beautiful place on earth.

      This is very good Jen Jen.

      Thank you for the follow. It reminds me of what it says in the Bible, where two or three are gathered.

      Also those that assemble resemble, when people are sincerely after the solution to what can only be called a runaway problem with our children being misled.

      Response to Jen Jen!

      Trust me, very good things will happen, no one should be able to train and nurture your children better than you. They can subject them to rules and a certain type of scrutiny, things like booth camp etc. They do work; they instill a much needed discipline that has usually eluded so many of these kids.

      We all see life, but not in the same way. So it's good to gather and discuss, exchange ideas.

      For instance looking at how kids are easily adopting to this electronic age we are in, it's great and it's so sweet when you are at that special understanding with your kids. You are the nucleus of their lives, they revolve around you, so you have to involve yourself with them and whatever they do, and it is fun when understood. That celebration I spoke of.

      You will teach them about life and what it takes. Not just to succeed, but to be the best they can be that's where their success can be shared and be a blessing to all.

      That's the understanding.

      I am watching kids running all over their parents, and all I am hearing from those parents, is that's the kids of today. My question is, and what parents are you? Of yesterday? Your children are your representatives. Later they will represent themselves and your teaching in them will again have them representing their parents and overall foundation.

      Here is the catch, they live in today, but only through their parents who also live in today, they may be able to learn certain things faster than you, but the discipline they need is embedded in you and they "NEED"

      Can't come faster or with anyone else and they must be reminded.

      It's so sad to hear a kids tell their parents later, why did you not tell me, I was a kid , doing what kids do, you are the parent you should of made it your duty to tell me. That's the kicker.

      I am quite happy to share you early successes , it all starts somewhere, and then eventually works out for beautiful for those who understands, that there are no excuses once they are your children.

      Time is the key.

      Plans don't always work out here, because with children there are no, written in stone guidelines or strategy, what there is however in the world’s best on the job learners and teachers.

      That's parents.

      They learn and adjust to perfection. Only been doing so forever!

      A pleasure Jen Jen.

      Blessings you will be fine, clearly you have what it takes.

    • JenJen0703 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jennifer McLeod 

      6 years ago from Battle Creek, Michigan

      No, Derdriu, it's not my caring, organizational, or practical skills. It's from the "I am ready to rip out my hair" skills that keeps me from knocking out my youngest one. I swear, I have been around children my whole life, and my youngest son is the most difficult child I have ever taken care of. I prayed for patience right before he was born. I'm not quite sure what happened, but on the flip side, he has so much creativity. And he can rock almost any song with his amazing voice.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      JenJen703: What a hilarious hub, which nevertheless speaks volumes of your caring, organizational and practical skills!

      Thank you, voted up, etc.,


    • Just History profile image

      Just History 

      6 years ago from England

      Mine are still as bad- the worst thing is No 1 and No2 daughter are working really hard at University and getting really good grades, so me I still do their chores for them. I have told No 1 that when she qualifies as a teacher in the summer she will have to do her own washing etc as mummy did not take on the duties for a 25 year stint- I dont know how she will do!

    • billabongbob profile image


      6 years ago from South Wales, UK

      Very few children are much different, it seems natural for them to avoid chores. To get them to co-operate is all down to discipline and continuity. Punishment, my favourite was groundings as my kids hated that intensely, and not letting them off one time and shouting at them another time did get results.

      My daughters are now grown up, my eldest daughter has a son of her own (who's 1 today :D), so she's got it all to come. Daughter number two got married 3 days ago, her husband can be like a small child around the house (he's a lovely guy really, I couldn't wish for a better son-in-law). And daughter number three still lives at home with me (she's 18), we still have battles over chores sometimes, and I don't consider her too old to be grounded.

      I'm Mum, not a dogs body. I'm a domestic Goddess, with unrivalled skills, not a domestic slave. Appreciation of this has been learnt, because when Mum isn't doing her thing, everyone knows about it due to the ensuing chaos.

      I never expected my children to run the house, just do their share. Pick up after themselves, wash some dishes, put the vacuum cleaner around now and again, get the laundry in if it's raining, none of this is rocket science and all are necessary skills for adult life!!

      Thank you for the entertaining account of how it is for you. I'm sure that many reading it will identify.

    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 

      6 years ago from Greece

      I couldn't help laughing when I read your hub. It doesn't matter where we live in the world children will be children. I'll have to get husband to read it too as he thinks our children are the only ones like this.

      How you handle our children is so important in getting the results we want. We went through the same dish washing scenario this summer and they still haven't learned properly yet. May get them to read this too.

    • kootheancheah profile image


      6 years ago from Penang, Malaysia

      Thanks for sharing this interesting piece.

      Kids all over the world are the same!

      My mom made me do chores when I was small; I washed the plates after dinner. Till today, I can't stand the sight of unwashed dishes in the sink. Trained them well when they are young and the good habits stay with them forever. ;-)

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      7 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Good hub.

    • JenJen0703 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jennifer McLeod 

      7 years ago from Battle Creek, Michigan

      I've never even used an iPod. I'm so far behind, it's terrible. I recently bought an Android phone, but that is it.

    • lpanfil profile image


      7 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio

      I text her on her iPod. She has a tracker phone no texting.

    • JenJen0703 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jennifer McLeod 

      7 years ago from Battle Creek, Michigan

      My oldest son did not get a cell phone until he went to college. I'm more old school and think it's my job to monitor my children, not use a cell phone to do it (no offense). Not having cell phones means I have to check up on them, and it keeps them honest.

    • lpanfil profile image


      7 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio

      Try texting. Yes, I actually text my child and tell her to empty the dishwasher. It works for me!


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