Children develop their own will at a very early age (typically around the “terrible two’s”) and their will often conflicts with that of their parents. If not corrected by the school years with loving discipline born of patience and understanding, your child may be taxing on your emotional state, especially when it comes to required tasks such as brushing their teeth, bathing, waking up and/or going to sleep at night during those long school years. Don’t throw in the towel just yet, as there are ways to rectify this behavior. Here are 5 tips to point you in the right direction.

  • Talk to your children. There’s a difference between talking to them rather down at them. Your kids are looking for you to set an example. Discouraging them simply creates an environment of continued rebellion. Get your child or kids on the same page at a convenient, less stressful time of the day. Thank them for being “grown up” about resolving some problems you recognize. By effectively communicating with them and respecting their personhood, you will elicit a greater chance of a positive response.
  • Delineate tasks and chores. Routines drive adults crazy, what more kids? Words and phrases such as mandatory, must do, etc. stir up the rebel in all of us. Try changing the chores up from week to week. On the other hand, individual responsibilities such as making the bed, taking a shower, cleaning their room, waking up and brushing their teeth can be changed to creative titles. How about “remake you comfort zone”, “hit the beach”, “rearrange the room”, “rise and shine, sunshine”, and “polish those pearly whites”? Words have meaning. Find those that strike a chord with your child.
  • Create phases and times. If you expect your kids to act at their own leisure, they’ll abuse it. However, setting specific times for bed at night, waking in the morning, and performing other duties should be given a specific timeframe. For example, bedtime might be 10 p.m. and lights out at 10:30. When kids know what is expected of them, they’ll typically comply if approached with a neutral, non-judgmental voice. Allow them some freedom as long as they stay within your desired timeframe.
  • Expect some fallout. All people are resistant to change. It’s natural. To affect change, the leader (parent) must explain to the subordinate (child) why the change is necessary. Getting the child involved in the change will go a long way to making the transition a smoother, lasting one. Be sure to allow your child time to provide his/her feedback in the event you may be overlooking something, but remain in charge. Follow up to ensure your child is proceeding with the change and correct as necessary.
  • Be open to change. As kids grow and mature, adjustments to schedules should be open for amendment. For example, bedtimes for a 6-year-old are different than a 13-year-old. Furthermore, as you observe your child making a satisfactory adjustment to the proposed and implemented changes, reward them with praise. Consider giving them a “day off” or, again, changing up times for chores and daily routines.

Life doesn’t have to be hectic during the school year. With agreeable routines planned by parents and approved by kids, mornings and evenings become easier and allow you to spend time doing something else you love. By talking with your kids, delineating tasks and chores, creating amicable timeframes, preparing for resistance, and being amenable to changing schedules, your life will become simpler, easier, and your kids will be on their way to adulthood with a proper sense of knowing what responsibility means.