It happens with at least 50% of the families I see.
“Megan, I hate to admit this, but my teen is LAZY. I can’t get him/her to do ANYTHING at home.”
First of all, you’re not alone! Second of all, parents need to challenge themselves to look at this issue differently.
Often times, teens do not prioritize a clean house. I will admit that I can’t site any research about this topic this morning, but I’ve worked with enough teens to know that cleanliness is often not a priority to them. So, I ask parents how they frame “chores” to their teen at home.
If you (as a parent) want their room picked up, their towel off the floor, their dishes in the dishwasher, this must be communicated as a requirement, not an option. When something is a requirement, there are consequences when the requirement does not get met.
If it is a requirement for your teen to empty the dishwasher twice per week, I encourage you to reward their efforts at home with something they care about. I’m not suggesting that you pay them $20 for unloading the dishwasher, but be reasonable. If your teen has a decent list of chores at home, they will be much more likely to complete their requirements if there is incentive. The kicker? You need to follow through with the rewards. On time. As you promised.
Also, you need to follow through with the consequences. If the consequence is that your teen does not earn the weekly “allowance,” then don’t give them the money. For this to be effective, you can’t hand them $5 here and there during the week. Their allowance money should be their spending money. If they don’t earn their money for the week, they don’t spend money that week. Simple. If the only consequence to not completing chores is that they don’t earn an allowance, don’t add more consequences. Also, you may have to deal with the fact that their room stinks because they didn’t clean it up this week.
That’s fine. They’ll learn from this eventually. Shut the door and move on with your life. They are hurting because they didn’t earn their money (or they lost their cell phone for the week, or whatever the consequence is) and you’re hurting because their room stinks. Do your best to let that go.
Last quick pointer: If your teen earned their weekly allowance (for cleaning) and their behavior stinks in another area, do not take their cleaning reward away. Consequence them in another way. If you take away something they legitimately earned, they will probably stop cleaning.
It’s important for you to follow through. Have a pay day. Be prepared to pay them and don’t engage in “all or nothing” thinking. If they did half their chores, give them half their money. You want them to succeed in order to build more confidence.
What are some of the creative ways you have gotten your teen to do their part in keeping the house clean?