Wikler on Cooperation

I like this article from Aish about cooperation from children because the author, Meir Wikler, expects children to help out as a matter of course. We shouldn’t need to give prizes or even stickers to our children every time they help us, nor inflict a “consequence,” even a “natural” one, on our flesh and blood when they fail to do as we ask.

When assignments are not completed on time, or worse, not completed at all, you face a more difficult challenge. At such times you must walk a tightrope, avoiding abrasive displays of resentment, on the one hand, while steering clear of minimizing the transgression on the other.

It’s not easy to put this into practice; old habits like threatening and yelling die hard. However, these techniques don’t seem to work in the long run (and for me, not even in the short run). The methods described in the linked article have worked for me, except that I find it best to let children choose the chores they want. Does it always go smoothly? No. Are there things I can do to improve the situation? Always.

What’s the problem with rewards? Well, I don’t like the extra work they entail: keeping track of who did what and figuring out what the reward should be and providing it. I can’t keep up with that in the long term. I feel the same about both material rewards and “parent time” rewards, like an extra story. I want my kids to do chores simply because the children are an important part of the family and old enough to share the responsibility of the housework.

I have a friend who teaches her children that rewards are a short-term tool to help develop new habits, not a prize for doing what they need to do anyway. That makes sense, but I haven’t tried it.

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Comments

  1. I think you have a naturally Adlerian way of thinking.
    Rewards are bad since they teach you to do things not because they themselves are worthy, but for something external to them.Participating in family life, including cores, is in my view and obviously yours – definitely worthy.
    Rewards also move your attention from the here and now to the then and later, which is probably the worst thing a parent can do to himself and his or her children.
    As a part of a conditioning regime, it is well documented that unreliable rewards get the best effect.If the animal – or child – is unsure when he will receive the reward the chances of him repeating the behavior are greatly enhanced and so is the length of time he will continue to perform the desired behavior.good luck with that!

  2. The articles give some great suggestions. Sounds like a good book. Thanks for tip!

  3. I really enjoyed this article and the practical tips it advised. I think parents use far too many incentives, bribes, rewards to get their children to do what they should be expected to do.
    But, like your friend, I have used charts to get a kid to understand the seder for the morning or the evening. And, I’ve yet to keep a chart going more than 3 days. Once the order and habit has been established, there is no need to continue the onerous task of keeping track.

  4. I really enjoyed this article and the practical tips it advised. I think parents use far too many incentives, bribes, rewards to get their children to do what they should be expected to do.
    But, like your friend, I have used charts to get a kid to understand the seder for the morning or the evening. And, I’ve yet to keep a chart going more than 3 days. Once the order and habit has been established, there is no need to continue the onerous task of keeping track.

  5. I really enjoyed this article and the practical tips it advised. I think parents use far too many incentives, bribes, rewards to get their children to do what they should be expected to do.
    But, like your friend, I have used charts to get a kid to understand the seder for the morning or the evening. And, I’ve yet to keep a chart going more than 3 days. Once the order and habit has been established, there is no need to continue the onerous task of keeping track.

  6. I agree that rewards shouldn’t be overused- for a while I was offering my kids treats to do certain chores. Then they started asking for treats every time they did something nice- and I knew it was time to stop!
    Now, they know that they are expected to pitch in around the house, and that no reward will be forthcoming. I still give them treats, but just as a fun, once-in-a-while thing, unconnected to chore performance.

  7. I agree that rewards shouldn’t be overused- for a while I was offering my kids treats to do certain chores. Then they started asking for treats every time they did something nice- and I knew it was time to stop!
    Now, they know that they are expected to pitch in around the house, and that no reward will be forthcoming. I still give them treats, but just as a fun, once-in-a-while thing, unconnected to chore performance.

  8. I agree that rewards shouldn’t be overused- for a while I was offering my kids treats to do certain chores. Then they started asking for treats every time they did something nice- and I knew it was time to stop!
    Now, they know that they are expected to pitch in around the house, and that no reward will be forthcoming. I still give them treats, but just as a fun, once-in-a-while thing, unconnected to chore performance.

  9. I agree that rewards shouldn’t be overused- for a while I was offering my kids treats to do certain chores. Then they started asking for treats every time they did something nice- and I knew it was time to stop!
    Now, they know that they are expected to pitch in around the house, and that no reward will be forthcoming. I still give them treats, but just as a fun, once-in-a-while thing, unconnected to chore performance.

  10. I’m glad you linked to the whole article – in its entirety, I found it even more relevant to my stage.
    I’m not a big lover of rewards since I was raised with more of an expectations approach, though I think I had too few responsibilities at home growing up. One notable exception where I did use a sticker chart was toilet training. But when Ann forgot about it, I happily did too.
    As a relatively new parent (Ann’s turning 4 this summer), I find that I am often evaluating the long-term usefulness and impact of the household operating regulations. Day-to-day, I try to run things in a relaxed and descheduled sort of way, but with an undercurrent that strives to be very ordered.
    That Ann is by nature very helpful and cooperative helps set the tone. Since my kids are with me almost all of the time, participating in the routine tasks and chores of the household is natural.
    They help cook while standing on a stepladder next to me (mixing, helping look in the glass to make sure there is “no red” in the egg, pouring). They load and unload the washer and dryer with me. They dust and wipe low surfaces with rags of their own. And of course, cleaning up toys, shoes, and the clothes that go into drawers they are tall enough to reach is a given.
    For the most part their chores are things I could do myself in less time, but I’m trying to establish a long-term attitude of household responsibility. I know that I haven’t nearly hit the age of uncooperativeness, but hopefully, some of this will get ingrained!

  11. I’m glad you linked to the whole article – in its entirety, I found it even more relevant to my stage.
    I’m not a big lover of rewards since I was raised with more of an expectations approach, though I think I had too few responsibilities at home growing up. One notable exception where I did use a sticker chart was toilet training. But when Ann forgot about it, I happily did too.
    As a relatively new parent (Ann’s turning 4 this summer), I find that I am often evaluating the long-term usefulness and impact of the household operating regulations. Day-to-day, I try to run things in a relaxed and descheduled sort of way, but with an undercurrent that strives to be very ordered.
    That Ann is by nature very helpful and cooperative helps set the tone. Since my kids are with me almost all of the time, participating in the routine tasks and chores of the household is natural.
    They help cook while standing on a stepladder next to me (mixing, helping look in the glass to make sure there is “no red” in the egg, pouring). They load and unload the washer and dryer with me. They dust and wipe low surfaces with rags of their own. And of course, cleaning up toys, shoes, and the clothes that go into drawers they are tall enough to reach is a given.
    For the most part their chores are things I could do myself in less time, but I’m trying to establish a long-term attitude of household responsibility. I know that I haven’t nearly hit the age of uncooperativeness, but hopefully, some of this will get ingrained!

  12. mominisrael says:

    Joe–where is my comment that I posted right away? Grrr–I wrote that I am not sure that I take being Adlerian as a compliment.
    S–yes it does, doesn’t it.
    SL–Glad it works!
    RR–so do they pitch in? One of mine said, “I’ll bring out the bottle of water, but don’t expect me to do anything else.” LOL
    RM–I find that the oldest often sets the tone. As for eggs, I taught my 3yo how to crack them and she lets me know if a shell falls in (really!). I think you have a great approach.

  13. I think a lot of parents underestimate the amount of help their children can provide (I probably overestimate, lol). Since MiI is more experienced it would be great to here more about the subject from her.

  14. They do pitch in…most of the time…and not very happily…I told them how much nicer it would be if, when I ask them to do something, they would smile and say, “Sure, Mom!”
    Doesn’t happen very often, as you can imagine!

  15. Why not? Have you had any bad experiences with Adler? I’d love to hear about it!

  16. mominisrael says:

    SL–thanks for the suggestion. I will keep it in mind. My kids definitely help less than they could/should, but perhaps more than in many families.
    RR–LOL
    JJ–I have read that his hands-off approach works for introverted kids, but not for touchy-feely type kids (for lack of a better term, I’m in a hurry here).

  17. mominisrael says:

    SL–thanks for the suggestion. I will keep it in mind. My kids definitely help less than they could/should, but perhaps more than in many families.
    RR–LOL
    JJ–I have read that his hands-off approach works for introverted kids, but not for touchy-feely type kids (for lack of a better term, I’m in a hurry here).

  18. mominisrael says:

    SL–thanks for the suggestion. I will keep it in mind. My kids definitely help less than they could/should, but perhaps more than in many families.
    RR–LOL
    JJ–I have read that his hands-off approach works for introverted kids, but not for touchy-feely type kids (for lack of a better term, I’m in a hurry here).

  19. mominisrael says:

    SL–thanks for the suggestion. I will keep it in mind. My kids definitely help less than they could/should, but perhaps more than in many families.
    RR–LOL
    JJ–I have read that his hands-off approach works for introverted kids, but not for touchy-feely type kids (for lack of a better term, I’m in a hurry here).

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