Never Reward Negative Behavior


boy-504326_1280One of the most important lessons that I ever learned is: “Never reward negative behavior!” That one line can make a world of difference in your family life. It is so simple, really!

Think of the little boy in the shopping cart seat who is whining, whining for candy. We’ve all seen it (and maybe lived it too!) The little guy is working up to a pitch, and his exasperated mother is getting frustrated. Next scene, the little boy is happily licking an ice cream cone. What lesson was just taught? “If I whine loud and long enough, I’ll get a treat!” You can bet that behavior will be repeated every time they go to the grocery store!

grass-632219_1280The husband who forgets to take out the trash (or mow the lawn, or pick up his socks) finds that his wife has become impatient and done it herself. Lesson learned? “If I wait long enough, somebody will do it.”

The child who can’t find his book (shoes, mitt, etc.) and keeps complaining until his mother finally gets up and finds it for him. Lesson learned? “If you bump around complaining long enough, Mom will do it for you!”

I don’t mean to suggest that loved ones are conniving. It is just human nature—no hurt is intended, but if it works, the behavior will be repeated. So, never reward negative behavior.

What about the child who can’t sit still and behave during a class or church service? If the parent gets exasperated enough, they may be taking a trip out into the hall for awhile. Nice reward! What if being taken out entails the parent’s displeasure—is it still a reward? Yes it is! Any undivided attention (even negative) is better than being ignored.

I once watched a young mother who was so sweet with her children but suddenly went “deaf” whenever a child whined. She didn’t scold or remind, she just couldn’t hear them, apparently! I was amazed at how quickly her “whiner” changed her tone when she could no longer get a response. Next time you observe behavior you don’t like, watch for the reward. People don’t keep doing things unless there is some kind of payoff. If you are involved in paying, stop! . . . and the behavior will stop too.

Now, you know the secret, Mom!
(Never reward negative behavior.)


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Why Listen?


“Pick up your shoes!”

“Clear the table!”

“You’ve left your coat on the couch.”

“Don’t leave a wet towel on your bedroom floor!”

Sound familiar? I sometimes feel like I am a repeating public announcement: “Keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle until it comes to a complete stop” . . . “No smoking in the terminal”.

I don’t want to be a nag, and I know kids can easily go “parent deaf” if much of our communication is just remind-remind-remind. I was thinking hard about this when it hit me—why should they listen?! Is there any benefit involved? Is there any good reason to tune in to a parent’s constant reminders? Or is it just mom going through the drill of repeating, reminding and nagging?

Having had this brilliant thought, it occurred to me to make it worth Louisa’s while to pick up the towel off her bedroom floor—or better yet, to motivate her not to ever throw it there in the first place. This was my biggest gripe and my constant nag, so—without any fanfare—I posted a note on the bathroom mirror: “$1 charge for a towel on the floor”.

Guess how many times she paid $1? Actually just once! Unfortunately, I had trained her to ignore me, to know that I would repeat it over a few more times before expecting action. So, she didn’t really believe that I meant what I posted. I saw the towel on her floor and playfully demanded payment with out-stretched hand: “Aha! I caught you! One dollar, please!”

Oh my, I was for real! Now there was a reason to listen! Now she was on guard! It became worth her while to regulate herself.

This didn’t make me feel very good. Oh, yes, I was thrilled to be able to stop reminding her, but I felt rather bad that I had allowed myself to become a negative background noise. The cure was just too easy. That was 3 months ago and it is still working. There have been no towels on her floor ever, even though the note is long gone. Why? Well, it finally became beneficial for her to change her behavior. I wish I could have realized that earlier, and saved my breath!

Next time you open your mouth to issue a command, to nag or remind, ask yourself, “why should they listen?” Once there is a reason that benefits them, they’ll hear quite well even if it is whispered just once, or posted without a word.

To your parenting success!


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Big Bear Hugs

My very sweet grandbabies: Abigial and Rebekah and their new baby brother Isaac

My very sweet grandbabies: Abigial and Rebekah and their new baby brother Isaac

We all need physical touch! It is essential to our well-being, just as much as good food and sleep and other components of health. Research has shown that monkeys will choose physical contact over food, if they are being “touch-deprived”. In another study, babies in overcrowded orphanages had a greater chance of survival if their cribs were near the doorway where workers might pat them as they passed. Touch is critical to our well-being.

Pestering, poking, tickling and teasing is sometimes just a way of begging for physical contact. It’s a way of inviting to be touched and touching others. We all need touch, but poking and tickling isn’t exactly the best method for getting our needs met. What is an acceptable way to get the healthy, nurturing body contact that we all need?

When pestering got to be a big problem at my house, I decided we needed to institute some morning bear hugs! So as everyone came out to our morning devotional, I had them line up and give the person across from them a big l-o-n-g bear hug. I told them to keep hugging until I said “stop”, which resulted in giggles. Then we rotated around until everyone had given everyone else a cozy extended hug.

I loved to watch my babies with my teenagers. A baby needs to be held and touched and played with. One of my sons would take the baby into his room regularly to just talk to and hold. Teenagers benefit so much from physical contact, and may feel awkward with hugs and kisses from parents, even though they still need them. A baby and a teen are a great combination!

What else have we tried in our family?

  • Letting the kids roll and wrestle
  • Hand massages (great while you are sitting together)
  • Goodbye and hello kisses
  • Arm wrestling (or leg wrestling!)
  • Family dancing together (boy with girl, or girl with girl or any combination works!)

Teach your kids some acceptable ways to get that much-needed physical contact, and the poking and pestering will diminish.

If you want to tone down the pestering, try starting the day with a big bear hug!


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What to Do with a Restless Little Boy?

I find it a rather interesting fact that 80% of all homeschooled children are boys. That makes a definite statement about the inability of most little boys to sit in desks and endure the regimentation of public school. Little boys are wiggles and adventure. Sitting in a desk for hours on end sounds like cruel and unusual punishment to an energetic little man.

What can be done with those particular little boys that can’t seem to do well in homeschool either? It seems that in the past 14 years of homeschooling my children, I have rotated in and out of having a restless little boy many of those years. It gets very tempting to consider public school, especially when I have a baby. Public school seems like a good solution until you really study it out.

Advantages of Sending Your Restless Boy to Public School:
1. He would be out of your hair for several hours a day, meaning you could get something done (such as homeschooling your more compliant children, cleaning house, nursing the baby, etc.)
2. The school schedule would discipline him to being on time and preparing his homework ahead of time.
3. The teacher would teach him to obey and follow directions.
4. He would have other children to play with and tousle with, teaching him how to act and get along while diverting some of his boundless energy.
5. He would learn academics, which would be more than seems to be getting through in homeschool.

Let’s Consider Each So-Called “Advantage”
1. He would be out of your hair for several hours a day, meaning you could get something done (such as homeschooling your more compliant children, cleaning house, nursing the baby, etc.)
Mothers are to be about the vital business of teaching and nurturing the precious children that God has entrusted to them. You love him more than any other person on this earth loves him, and you care about his daily doings. No teacher could rouse the same amount of interest or concern for his success. Just because he is out of your hair doesn’t mean that he is no longer totally your responsibility. Often the problems school creates only stress and strain your relationship further, putting more pressure on you. Your son can easily sense why he was put in school. Instead of feeling loved and wanted, he will feel that he is a problem too great for you to handle. Mothers, this kind of heavenly, motherly teaching takes lots of time and devotion, but it pays big dividends. Never give up!

Besides, maintaining your homeschool plus keeping up with the needs, demands, and homework of public school is extra exhausting.

2. The school schedule would discipline him to being on time and preparing his homework ahead of time.
Fat chance. If you haven’t been able to teach and guide your son to be on time and prepare ahead of time, the problem will only get worse with going to school. In homeschool you can be patient and lead him along. If he attends public school, it will be a mad dash to get out the door and a scramble to complete homework every school day for the rest of the school year. Talk to mothers who have their children in public school and ask specifically about the morning get-off-to-school stuff. I think you will hear that it is a crazy race to get out the door and that family prayer, a nutritious breakfast, hugs and kisses and other important beginnings to the day are often shrugged off in the hurry of it all. As far as homework goes, I spent several years helping my sons get their homework done after school before we discovered homeschooling, so I have a bit of experience. I firmly believe that it is much easier to teach them a concept in homeschool than it is to try to plow through their homework with them, explaining information (with no idea of how the teacher presented it in class) at the time of day when parents are most exhausted.

3. The teacher would teach him to obey and follow directions.
It is not the school’s job to train up your child. Besides, even if the school could accomplish it, you wouldn’t like the job they did it. Their values may be different from your way of life. The job of training children is best done at home, at an early age. If your little guy is still struggling with obedience, you are the best teacher and home is the best setting. Whatever problems he has at home will just be magnified at school. He will be labeled a troublemaker or a difficult child. The fear of a new situation may make him behave for a few days, but then he will begin to struggle with the same behavior that caused problems in homeschool. Home is the place to learn obedience from a tireless, consistent, loving mother. (God grant us the strength!)

4. He would have other children to play with and tussle with, teaching him how to act and get teamwork-649498_1280along while diverting some of his boundless energy.
Although I think it is important to have other children to play with and interact with, don’t count on public school for enriching your child’s social life. For one thing, you can control the type of friends your son associates with while he does homeschool. But in public school, often children who are restless fit right in with children who have lower standards and less self-discipline. You won’t like the language, play or dress codes that your son will quickly pick up in school. Although it seems like it would drain his energy to roughhouse with other boys, generally it only makes them wilder. Constructive play such as rigorous sports or building a tree house can divert that restlessness. When my boys were young, they dug long tunnels and built teepees and forts. They dragged themselves in from their work/play exhausted. Boys thrive on heavy chore jobs such as carrying wood or hoeing the garden, masculine jobs that need a boy’s muscles and strength to complete. Hobbies such as tying knots, whittling or woodworking can also keep him busy and happy. These are productive ways to channel your son’s energy.

When my sons needed social life, I looked for an older boy who was strong in the gospel for my boys to look up to, someone who could teach them new skills. When my son Daniel was younger he learned to operate a CB radio, connect to the Internet and compose music on the computer from older boys who appreciated having an interested listener and learner. Mark learned to raise chickens and grow a garden from men in our church who enjoyed sharing their wisdom. True socialization comes from following in the footsteps of someone older and wiser who models just how to behave.

5. He would learn academics, which would be more than seems to be getting through in homeschool.
There are more important things to learn than academics, such as the fact that Jesus loves you and died for you, that you need to treat your baby brother gently, to speak respectfully to your parents, to brush and take care of your teeth and health in general, to be patient and attentive to the sick and aged, to remember to feed your pets and be kind to animals, to shovel your elderly neighbor’s sidewalk without pay, and other crucial basics to a happy life.

liquid-415425_1280In addition, consider how public school will teach your son academics. If much of the work will be listening to lectures or doing worksheets while sitting quietly in a desk, your child is likely destined to be a failure. Restlessness in homeschool can be accommodated by hands-on learning, frequent exercise breaks, and alternate ways of gaining knowledge such as watching a video, playing a math game, tutoring little ones or doing a science experiment rather than just reading and filling in worksheets.

Food and Discipline

peanut-butter-684021__180There are a few other things to consider when dealing with a restless little boy. Food allergies can wreck havoc with a child’s ability to sit still and pay attention. Although I feel cautious about “blaming” food for such trouble, I do think it is worth observing. My 6-year-old son Ammon (who is currently the restless little boy in our homeschool) would pay attention and write his letters fastidiously neatly on certain days. Other days, his letters and numbers would be sloppy and backwards. After several weeks of watching, I decided that he was eating peanut butter and whole wheat bread for breakfast on the mornings that school went poorly. Removing whole wheat (difficult to do!) and peanut butter from his diet resulted in a more peaceful homeschool for Ammon, although it didn’t solve the problem entirely.

Lack of discipline and hyperactivity look very similar in behavior. I often think strictness and consistency on the part of the parents of restless boys might be more effective than medicine in many cases. Boys particularly seem to push limits and struggle with learning self-control. Without proper discipline, most little boys are a whirlwind. If you think lack of self-discipline is causing the problem with your little boy, help him learn little by little to control himself. I like reading my children a story from Little House in the Big Woods (pg. 87, chapter entitled “Sundays”) about what self-control little pioneer children were expected to have, to the point of not even laughing on Sunday. Talking about exactly what is expected behavior in home school helps too. For example, when my little guy sits upside down on the couch (meaning head down and feet up) during school, I tell him that had he gone to public school when I was a child, my teacher Mr. Bowen would have hit him with a hickory stick for that trick. Today’s school teacher may have sent him to the principle or held him in from recess. I am not excessively strict on how they sit or what they say during homeschool, but I do feel you must keep order and children must learn not to burst out with whatever pops into their head to say. Judging on some children’s actions that I observe at church, perhaps I expect better behavior than the public schools do.

Remember that your mischievous little boy is first and foremost God’s child, and God loves and values him greatly. Pray for help! If you don’t know what to do next, He knows. Lay claim to His promise: “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you” (John 14:17–18). “If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.” If we pray with full energy of heart, He will grant us pure love for our restless little boy. God will change our irritation and annoyance to understanding and charity. He will plant in our mind a strategy, ideas to help this child grow and become that man that He designed him to be. Remember you are the key figure in this plan. Mother forms and shapes the child more than any other influence. Your approval and love is crucial. It is true that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.


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Zoned Out Kids

homeschooling-tea partyQuestion:

I am at wit’s end with my daughter. I tell her, remind her, nag her, coax her and still she will not do what I ask. I don’t want to punish her all the time. She seems to turn a deaf ear to me. It is very hard to homeschool when she zones me out. Please help!


I think we all fall into the trap of repeating what doesn’t work with our children. I know I do! Maybe it is easier to nag than to really think through the problem and come up with a solution. But I think we would all agree that most parents nag while knowing that nagging does not work!

I learned an important lesson when studying the American Revolution. When John Adams went as ambassador for the colonies to England’s King George, begging to be recognized and honored in trade with the England, King George turned a deaf ear, and continued to ignore America’s requests for fair trade. The frustrated Adams demanded an answer to why Americans were being mistreated and the representative for England replied, “cui bono?”, the Latin phrase meaning “for whose advantage?” or “who benefits?”. I think our children know this principle all too well! If you ask your daughter to put away her shoes, and you nag and you repeat yourself, consider whom would it benefit if she does what you ask? She doesn’t particularly care whether her shoes are here or there. It is of no consequence to her, and you can wear yourself ragged reminding her.  Your girl will quickly learn to zone you out—no need to listen to information that does not particularly interest or affect you. If you can apply the “who benefits?” principle when you find yourself nagging, it may be simple to find a solution.

Let me give you an example: We do a lot of singing in our family. My daughter Louisa (9) was not singing in church or in family devotional or in homeschool. I tried to say encouraging words, plead with her to cooperate, as well as nag her and feel upset at her for this behavior. I thought up excuses for her: maybe she can’t read as fast as we sing, maybe the tunes are unfamiliar, maybe she is embarrassed to be heard, and so on. It is pretty easy for us mothers to think up lots of reasons to justify poor behavior.

Well, one day, while sitting in church feeling frustrated that she would not even open a hymn book, a thought popped into my mind: “cui bono?”  I came to the rapid, disappointing realization that I was trying once again to make something work (nagging) that has a proven track record of not really working! Whatever circumstances or past experiences had put a bad taste towards singing in Louisa’s mouth, it was time to make it rewarding to sing!

As I sat there, I devised a very simple plan. I got out a piece of paper and folded it so it made 12 boxed sections on the paper. In each box, I drew a circle. At the top of the page, I drew 4 faces: one sad, one neutral, one smiling, and one ecstatically happy with an open grin! Then I whispered to Louisa, “Do you want to play a game and try to get a huge smile on a face?” She smiled and nodded “yes” excitedly, as church could get long for her and a distraction looked fun. I told her there are just 4 rules. If you keep all 4, you will get the very excited happy face. If you keep just one, you will get the sad face, and so forth. Louisa was ready to go!

I wrote down 4 rules on the bottom of the paper:

  1. Open the hymnbook to the right page.
  2. Hold your head up and the book up so your voice goes out in the room
  3. Smile and sing cheerfully
  4. Sing every word in a loud enough voice.

Then at the conclusion, I wrote: “Mom is the final judge–no arguing.”

Wow—all of the sudden it was her idea to sing. When it was time for the next song, Louisa was ready to go! She opened her book to the right page without a whisper from me! She held it up and mumbled but didn’t really accomplish much singing. She got a neutral face in the first box, along with the song title. She was disappointed, but also understood that I was “playing for real”, and it would take following all 4 rules to get the ecstatically happy face that meant she won. She felt some sense of challenge and had her hymnbook ready and waiting when the next song came along. This time she sang quietly and missing some words. She felt shy and self-conscious, but she did it! This time she got a smile, but not a big-huge-open-mouth-grin worthy of all 4 points.

It was her challenge and her game and I didn’t say a word, except to draw the face in and praise her for trying. After a few more songs, I thought I’d better sweeten the deal to keep her motivated and I drew a little formula in the top corner of the paper: 6 big smiley faces = ice cream cone (I drew a cone with a scoop of ice cream on it). Oh, boy! Now she was begging to sing.

Bribery? No. Motivation? Yes. Ice cream is not a part of our daily diet, but nagging shouldn’t be either! It is worth it to me to reward Louisa with an ice cream cone to develop a new habit.

Church ended before she had sung enough songs to earn the ice cream cone, but that didn’t stop her! She had a goal in mind and was highly motivated to earn it. She asked if we could have a Sunday afternoon devotional and she would choose the songs—4 of them! With the 2 huge smiley faces she had already earned in church, she figured 4 more well-sung songs would add up to 6 needed and the promise of an ice cream cone. When I devised the reward, I knew I had ice cream in the freezer but I didn’t dream she’d earn it that very day. So we had our devotional and Louisa sang 4 more songs with all her heart, cheerfully, loudly, and with her book held high. She even got upset if we began the song before she got to the right page, as she had to keep her pledge to “sing every word”.

Cui bono? Who benefits if Louisa sings? Well, before our little game, it did not seem to Louisa’s advantage to sing at all, for whatever reason, and all the (nagging, shaming, critical, pleading, praising or otherwise) words in the world from me only heightened her negative feelings about singing. Once I could see straight, and turn singing into a positive experience for Louisa, she quickly and happily complied, with more thrust than I thought she was capable of!

How does this work in the end? Do I have to keep up a steady diet of ice cream cones for Louisa to sing? Actually, too many ice cream cones and they might lose their appeal, and then what? What generally happens is that as you engineer a positive experience for your child, rewarding her along the way and changing or upping the reward as need be to keep her motivated, she will begin to get her own reasons for singing. She will begin to see it as a fun thing to do because it is enjoyable, or perhaps a way to earn adult approval. Maybe singing will appeal to her for other reasons, her own reasons. She may never like to sing, but might come to the point where she can view it as a means to feel unified with a worshipping group of people. As a parent, we respect our children’s right to choose and their right to be who they are, but we want to train them in ways that have proven to bring us happiness.

Before nagging your child, ask yourself, “cui bono?”. You know what to do next!

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Spanking, Anyone?

Me & My Grandbabies

Me & My Grandbabies


Tell me why you prefer not to spank. I’m just curious why? Isn’t it a scriptural command to parents to spank? (Biblical chastisement)



Basically, I don’t spank because the only time I feel enough anger to spank my child is when I am out of control emotionally. When I feel myself re-gaining control, I have no desire to hit or hurt anyone. So, I realize that the passion I feel that makes me want to spank comes from a source other than God. Self-control is the hallmark of a Christian.

When I am in emotional control, the Spirit confirms to my heart that spanking is not the best choice. There are other ways to gain a disciple—other ways to help children want to be like you, and follow your example (which should exemplify Christ to your child). Extra work, loss of privileges, taking away the fought-over toy, being removed from the table, not having the enjoyment of your attention (if you walk away during a tantrum), and many more actions are all useful tools to help a child want to obey.

Freedom is earned by behaving well. Children can learn this. If they want the freedom to play with the toy, they cannot fight over it. If they fight, the toy is taken away. It doesn’t take long to figure that out, even without any words from Mom.

Every one of my 7 children bit me while nursing. Once only. The first bite resulted in drama—a bit overdone for their sakes—screaming and tossing them onto the bed. The next time they started to want to bite, they would look at me, pull off and cry. They knew what was coming if they decided to use me for a teething ring. It amazed me that a 4 or 5 month old baby could remember and learn so quickly. There are moms who stop nursing because their baby bites. That always seems so sad to me. Training would be better, and continuing that wonderful bond of nursing.

I do believe that a toddler that is being endangered by what he is doing needs to be reprimanded strongly. If you cannot remove the child from the situation, nor remove the offending object, then one option is to use a squirt bottle. A quick spray of water in the face does a whole lot better training job and doesn’t hurt anyone. It just gets their attention, makes them startle, cry, and decide not to repeat the dangerous behavior. It usually only takes a few sprays for a child to learn. One very stubborn little guy of mine at about 9 months old actually took 8 times to learn! I was bawling by the time we established who was in charge, but it was worth it to see the light go on in his eyes. He had learned that I could be trusted and ever-constant in the task of helping him figure out the path to happiness.

Our job as parents is to help our children learn the way to happiness as quickly, efficiently and lovingly as possible. I want my children to feel like they can always trust me to be the loving parent that has their well-being at heart. Hitting them seems to counter what I am trying to develop in our relationship. I like the concept of being “kind and firm.” I can imagine God acting like that. That is what I want to be: ever kind, never yelling or angry, always loving, but absolutely firm and unyielding when it comes to wrongdoing. A mom can smile and be gentle and keep her voice low even when she is having to haul off a kicking, tantrum-ing toddler. A mom can get a reputation for making sure that kids obey her without ever getting angry or spanking a child.

You can train your children to obey just by standing up! I can remember my other kids yelling to the offender, “Mom’s coming!” They knew without a doubt that I would follow through on what I said, and all I had to do is begin to get up from my seat, and they would hop to!

If you want your children to obey you, you must follow through every single time you give a command. If you say, “Please pick up your shoes” and they don’t make a move in that direction immediately, you have to get up and make sure they do what you told them to do, even by guiding their hands in the right direction. Never let them ignore you! If you don’t have the energy to make sure you can follow through, then don’t say it in the first place, or you will train them to disregard you. After you train them to listen to you, if they don’t obey when you ask, all you have to do is make a motion like you are going to get up to follow-through, and they will move into action. They have learned that you are constant and trustworthy.

Always being a kind and loving best-friend to your children is the most effective way to get them to obey! We want to please those we love. If you question if this is true, try an experiment. Sit down on the floor with your little one and play puzzles, cars or dolls for 1/2 hour. Now, ask your child to pick up the toys with you, and watch how much more willing he is!

I have found that when I am in control, and full of love for my children and concern for their well-being, it is nearly impossible to strike them. And if I do, I suddenly sense that I have betrayed my best self. And betrayed their trust in me to ever love and protect them.

Best success to you in this most important work of being a parent!

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Wonderful, Wonderful Chores!

cleaning-268126_1280Not too many people like the word “chores”, but oh, they can be wonderful! They are the best teacher you’ll ever find! They teach a host of skills and virtues such as self-control, “stick-to-it”-ness, joy in accomplishment, problem-solving, perseverance, and the work ethic. Plus, they lighten many a tired mom’s load.

What is enough and what is too much to expect from children? Here is an age appropriate guide-line (keeping in mind that each child has a unique ability level):

Help pick up toys with you working side by side
Wipe up a spill
Do a small specific task before the timer goes off
Wash a spot on a wall or door
Put books back on a shelf
Feed pets
Dust (put socks on his hands!)
Drag a light laundry basket or hamper to the laundry room

3-5 Years
All of the above, plus:
Dress themselves, to a degree
Brush their own teeth (you will still need to “check” those teeth!)
Wash themselves
Set the table
Make beds
Take plastic dishes over to counter after a meal
Wash dishes (after a manner)
Rinse non-breakable and non-heavy dishes
Pick up toys, if it is a small confined task and not a whole pile of assorted
toys dumped on the floor
Put clothes and shoes away
Sort things (spoons go here, forks go there)
Help cook
Put away groceries
Fold small items, such as pillowcases and dishtowels
Unwrap things (we buy a case of hand soap at a time and unwrap it to let it
harden so it lasts longer)
Match socks
Empty trash cans

6 to 8 Years
All of the above, plus:
Tie shoes
Hang up clothes on hangers
Change a baby’s diaper
Peel vegetables
Take care of pets with supervision
Take out trash
Set the table
Sort laundry and put it away
Load dishwasher
Wash dishes for real
Wash walls or mirrors with spray cleaner
Answer the phone and take messages
Get up with an alarm clock

9 to 12 Years
All of the above, plus
Do their own hair (girls can learn to fix their hair now)
Get themselves all dressed and ready by themselves
Follow a recipe
Bake bread
Clear the table
Do laundry
Change bedding
Scrub the bathtub
Mow the lawn
Do yard work
Watch small children

13 to 15 Years
All the above, plus
Grocery shop
Cook a full meal
Wash windows
Deep cleaning
Wash a car
Earn money and buy own clothes
Watch babies

16 Years and Up
All that an adult can do that does not require experience or mature judgment

Enjoy the help! Every mom needs it and pitching in on the work only makes the child a more wonderful human being!


My three grandbabies and my husband Rick



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More Flies with Honey


“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”, my mother used to say.

Grumble, grumble. I wanted to do it the easy way (by force)—not the right way (by persuasion)!

You can chase the animals all over the field trying to catch them, but rattle the feed bowl and they’ll come runnin’! I often think of this when trying to get a child to do a chore, to do their math, or complete some other less desirable task. How do I lace this job with honey? How do I get them to “come running”? That takes some creative thinking on mom’s part to keep homelife happy and pleasant.

Often, just the privilege of doing it with you (provided you are a fun person to be with) is enough incentive. When it is time to wash dishes, I call out, “I’ll help the first person to volunteer” and then we’ll talk and laugh together, or I’ll tell a story. We also choose the easiest dishes to wash together, since we’re first! Now that is a bit of honey to sweeten the deal.

One of my children hit the doldrums and was totally overwhelmed by a whole page of math problems. How to apply honey here? I cut the math page into fourths using scissors with a fancy edge and stacked them in a bowl along with some colored markers that are fun to write with. Every hour on the hour during our school morning, I had my student draw out a little page, select a fun marker and bang through the problems. It seemed much more doable to her this way!

Bedtime routines are a great way to use “honey”. If kids know that you are reading aloud another chapter in that wonderful book (or picture books for little ones), it is amazing the speed with which they can get their pajamas on and brush their teeth! Especially if they know the clock-time that you will start reading.

Something in us—pride?—makes us want our kids to obey us just out of sheer respect for us as parents. That may have its place, but if you want a happy home life, get out the honey. It works wonders!


May I recommend:

Big Bear Hugs

Magic Words

My “Anti-Busting” Campaign

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