Chores: The Great Debate

I’m not going to lie. When the girls were growing up, there were some days it was just easier and faster for me to do their chores for them.

Have you ever been guilty of this? Most parents I know have. Some parents cave in to avoid confrontation while others don’t have the energy, patience or time to hold their children accountable. I also know plenty of parents that don’t want to inconvenience or impose on their already over scheduled kids.


None of these are good options because chores are, or should be, a necessary part of growing up.


Responsibility – holding children accountable for chores can increase their self-worth because they will feel good when they meet their obligations.

Life skills – cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking care of a pet and yard work are all skills they will need when they leave your home.

Hard work – life requires work… house work, school work, job work, etc. Chores provide the training ground for these essential life skills.

Here’s what you can do:

Model positive behaviors. If you whine about doing the laundry or mowing the yard, your children are more likely to complain about cleaning up their rooms.

Be patient. If you tell your son to put away his video games before dinnertime, then don’t complain if he hasn’t started the task by mid-afternoon. Give him the opportunity to complete the request without begging, pleading or nagging.

Compliment cooperation. Acknowledge when your child completes a task—even if the toys aren’t on the right shelves. You’ll get more cooperation if you refrain from criticism.

Start young and start small. A one-year-old can start age-appropriate chores, such as picking up books and blocks. And it’s okay for you to help them! Make it fun. “I’ll put my block in here, now it’s your turn. My book goes right here, yours goes next to mine.” By the time our children are six or seven, they should be able to do their chores unassisted.

What is the state of the parent-child relationship? Keep in mind that kids want to please but the connection has to be there. Also, they will be more apt to embrace your values regarding chores as well as your work ethic if the parent-child relationship is strong.

What if?

The ever-present question from parents is “What if they don’t do their chores? What consequence should I give them?” I don’t believe there always needs to be a consequence, especially if they are younger. Remember, you are training and teaching them—be positive and supportive and work alongside them until they are done. Yes, this does take more of your time, but if you can put in the hard work and training at the front end, the ultimate result will be that as they grow up, you should be able to say it’s time to do your chores and they will be able to do just that.

For older kiddos and teens, yes, a consequence might be in order. When they complete their chores then they can go out with friends. Say “feel free to go to Haley’s house when your chores are done.” This teaches him to govern himself and enables you to parent in a positive way. The more negative approach goes like this “No, you can’t go to Haley’s. I’ve told you a hundred times you have chores to do. You always wait until the last minute and you’ve known all along what you were supposed to be doing.” This kind of reaction doesn’t encourage cooperation.

Of this one thing I am certain: Your children will not thank you for insisting they do their chores while they still live in your home. Hopefully, they will thank you someday… after they are living on their own.

There’s Always Hope,





Need more help?  Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?”  While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services.  Click Here to learn more.

Revealing the Truth About Spanking

Let’s cut straight to the chase. Please, don’t do it! Period. That could be the end of this newsletter, but let’s go on.

Spanking is probably one of the most hotly debated topics of parenting and one where we might just have to agree to disagree. I can’t argue with parents when they sit in my office and tell me “well it worked on me.” I agree withSpanking doesn’t provide the long-term results you desire. them, because it probably did work — for the moment anyway. Children usually straighten up after a spanking because they are fearful of us and they are in physical pain. Emotionally, they are sad, embarrassed and angry. But, this kind of change in their behavior is not for the long term. Most importantly though, because of the hitting, there is a disconnect in the parent-child relationship. When that connection is gone, we’ve got problems.

Parents also say to me “my parents spanked me and I turned out just fine.” I agree with that too, because they probably are ok. Then, I ask them

if they hadn’t been spanked, do they think they would be less likely to spank their kids? Did they feel close to their parents after they were spanked? Did they trust their parents and feel safe enough to go to them with important matters. And then, I want to know how they remember feeling after they got a spanking. I also want to know if it made them feel like cooperating or rebelling.

With a steady diet of this negative way of parenting, children can become:

  • Defiant
  • Revengeful
  • Rebellious

One mother was in disbelief when her child told her that he liked to make her mad. He was paying her back. For what?  He was so angry with her because of the way she punished him. By the way, yelling, threatening and spanking were her preferred ways to try and manage him.  

Spanking relieves parents of their stress since they usually wait to spank until they’re at the end of their rope. That is unfair to take their frustration out on their kids in this way. Before most parents spank, they usually feel out of control. Nothing they are doing is working and they are furious. Spanking allows them to exert power over their kids and feel more in control.

A child’s self-worth is usually negatively affected when they are hit.  Who could feel good about themselves after a spanking? If you were paddled as a child, stop for a minute and try to remember how you felt about yourself after the fact.

Aggression begets aggression. Expect that if we hit our kids, they are likely to hit when they feel angry too. Is this the lesson we want to teach them?

The parent-child relationship is hurt when we hit our kids. This is the most detrimental repercussion from spanking. Keep in mind that this is the most important relationship in their life and how conflictual it is for them to feel close and loving to someone that is hurting them. Hitting devalues this precious relationship. When kids experience a disconnect from their parents,  they are resentful, fearful and distrustful and much less likely to be cooperative and do the right thing.

When we spank, we miss an opportunity to teach our kids how we expect them to behave. They’re in trouble for something, we smack them, yell at them and send them to their room and it’s over. The next time, instead of deciding to spank when they are misbehaving, stop yourself and ask how you can use the misbehavior as a teaching opportunity.

Warning. This does require more patience on your part.

Spanking does not work and the research is clear. Some of the long-term effects of regular spanking can lead to depression and anxiety. If you’re interested in the research, Elizabeth Gershoff, Ph.D. at UT, and Catherine Taylor, Ph.D. at Tulane, cite some of the latest findings in their research.

Honestly, there are two things all spankers say to me.

  • They don’t want to do it and never thought they would
  • They don’t feel good about themselves after they do it

No matter how you might try to justify it, spanking is not the answer. The opposite of that is loving guidance reinforced by a strong parent-child relationship. Carefully reconsider if you are a spanker.

There’s Always Hope,





Need more help?  Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?”  While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services.  Click Here to learn more!


Discipline is not Punishment

“Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Think of the last time you felt humiliated or treated unfairly. Did you feel like cooperating or doing better?” – Jane Nelsen

That quote is an oldie, but I still love it because it’s so true. Most parents I know feel a need to punish their kids for doing something wrong. Punitive measures tend to make children feel embarrassed and angry and when they feel that way, their desire to cooperate will be much less. For example, they have a bad day at school, we want to immediately punish them, in part, because we’re mad and embarrassed about it. So before thinking it through, we might take away computer privileges when they get home. We believe that simply by punishing our children for misbehaving they won’t make the same mistake again. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

Let’s clarify the difference between discipline and punishment. Many parents get confused with the two. They say “I’m going to discipline her” when what they’re really meaning is “I’m going to make her pay for this.” That is punishment. Discipline is not punishment. They are two totally different things.

Punishment is negative and punitive. It makes them suffer for their wrongdoing and focuses on parental control. That is called external locus of control. This control causes children to respond in a defensive way. Punishment focuses on the wrongs and breeds hostility and frustration in both parent and child. Punishment shames and usually doesn’t work. Then, when it fails, we’ve got frustrated parents. That only escalates their need to work harder to get their child under their control. Healthy parents do not want to control their children.

Discipline, on the other hand, is positive and nurturing. It means to teach or lead and focuses on internal control. This teaches kids to think for PWA_Discipline Articlethemselves so they can be self-regulated. We allow them to own their problem and figure out ways to solve it. Discipline is teaching children how we expect them to behave, in other words, guiding them. It is something you do with, not to your child. Discipline creates an attitude of concern on the parent’s part. Kids usually respond to that attitude and want to change their behavior.

To be effective disciplinarians, a strong parent-child relationship must be in place — a relationship where the child feels connected and loved unconditionally.  When children are connected in this way, they usually want to act right and do what is right.

After you are certain the parent-child relationship is solid, look at yourself. Are you leading by example? In other words, are you behaving the way you want them to behave? Surprisingly, many parents do not. So many of us expect our children to be what we are not. It is a mistake to expect our children’s behavior to change without changing ours. It’s unfair too.

The more positive we can be, the better. Focus on what your child is doing right, not what he is doing wrong. Catch them being good. To validate positive behavior, high five them, hug them or even notice what they’ve done by expressing it verbally.

Try to get to the root of the misbehavior. Are they mad at us? Did they have a fight with a friend? Did they have to go to the principal’s office and are afraid to tell us? Sometimes they just don’t have the words to tell us what they are feeling.

Why not begin to consider yourself a guide, much like a shepherd? They gently guided and lead the flock. Intentional parents walk beside, instructing, inspiring and encouraging but never provoking or bullying. Remember, from here on out, that the parent-child relationship is your secret weapon in effective discipline.

There’s Always Hope,