Thursday, October 11, 2012

I really have no idea what motivates these children

A short while ago, I posted about paying the girls money to do extra chores.  Pure carrot.  Do X, Y, or Z and earn some money. 

Well, that went over like a lead balloon.  The girls each did one chore the first day, and then nothing.

So, I reworked it.  Rearranged the money values, added a couple of things, subtracted quite a few things.  Gathered the girls and leveled with them.  Told them it's really hard for me to do this stuff right now, but it needs to be done, and that means I need their help.  Went on to say that if they didn't volunteer, they'd be assigned chores, and assigned chores would have to be done but wouldn't earn any money.

Carrot + stick.

Went over...well, you can probably guess how it went over, or else I wouldn't be writing this post.  Linda did one thing and earned some money.  She volunteered to do one other thing, and so did Bobbie, but neither followed through, so the next day they were assigned those chores.

We did kind of a fast-forward version of that today.  I told them I had a dollar for whomever volunteered to clean out the sink.  They looked at me blankly.  I told them either they could volunteer, or I'd draw a name out of a hat and then they'd have to do it and not get paid.  Linda tried to volunteer Bobbie.  Bobbie refused.  Then they sat and looked at me.  So I said okay and grabbed pencil and paper and had Marie loan me her hat.  I do consider it poetic justice that Linda's name got pulled.

I don't know what the hell to do at this point.  They have two chores, normally: wash the dishes (they take turns) and pick up after themselves.  That's it.  I am not overworking these kids.  I do not give them an allowance regularly, though we have always occasionally offered to pay them for doing a job here and there.  So doing extra work is the only way they get money.

The only thing I can think of is that the problem is one of delayed gratification.  It's pretty well known that most kids aren't capable of delaying gratification for a greater reward.  (The classic "one marshmallow now or two marshmallows in 10 minutes" experiment comes to mind.)  I think I might try a ticket system, which they can either trade in for money once a week or for fun things (computer gaming time, time with my Kindle, etc) the same day, and tie all their fun activities--which they usually get unless they decide to beat one another up--to chores.  I hate to do it, but I'm tired of them just looking at me instead of helping.


Borepatch said...

I wish I had any advice, but you're doing better than I did when the kids were younger.

Jay G said...

I recommend a cattle prod. Or, if you want old-school, cat-o-nine tails...

Weetabix said...

Two things:

1. When they don't do what they're supposed to do, MAKE them do it and add more work. Tell them exactly what you're doing: "Do what I tell you or I'll make you do what I told you plus more. It's easier for you to just do what I tell you."
2. You have to stand over them and MAKE them do it enough times that they know you really mean it. And they'll still not do it sometimes.

It sucks, and it's hard. I've got 4, aged 14-21, and I still have to do those 2 things.

Julie said...

Mmm, not sure what suggestions I can offer - I ask my girls to do something, put up with the complaining and fuss for about 10 mins ... don't give in to it and then they do it.

Maybe a time limit would help - i.e. I need you to fold the washing before you have lunch or similar? And then don't give them lunch until it's done.

(My girls are 9 & 11 and this has been the scenario for the last 3-4 years)