Tag: getting kids to do chores

Words Are Powerful!


Words are powerful. They can make us feel worthy or worthless, beautiful or ugly, they can empower or destroy. Words can move people to action or cause resistance.

Yesterday morning when I woke up I said to myself, “Ugh, I am so tired. I just want to sleep. All I have waiting for me is work.” It was difficult to get myself out of bed.

This morning I woke up at the same early hour but my first words were,” Man, I need to get hopping. I have a ton of projects I want to do today.” Before I knew it I was up and in the bathroom brushing my teeth. Can I say that the projects I had waiting for me were the very same ones that hadn’t gotten finished from the day before, the same work.

What we say and how we say it impacts ourselves and others.

Last week I talked about getting kids to buy in to what we want them to do by making the mundane and everyday special. Another way to get kids to buy in is to use words well.

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) practitioner Alicia Eaton says that by understanding the power of language parents can get their children do almost anything without yelling, bribing, or threatening. In her book How To Get Kids To Do Almost Anything, she reminds readers that the words we use matter and so does the structure of what we say. “We use negative talk and then we’re surprised when our children don’t do what we want them to,” Eaton says.

Here are a few tips for using words and phrases that will get your kids to buy in more often.


1. Say what you want and not what you don’t want

A friend of mine, Bob Nicoll, wrote about the power of words in getting people to take certain actions in his book Remember The Ice. His passion was reminding people to say what you want and not what you don’t want.

• Don’t leave a mess. vs Clean up when you’re done, please.
• You have to stop being late for school vs Let’s get our bikes and see if we can be early for school today.

2. Allow choice

• Put your shirt on, were late for church. vs Which shirt will you wear today, the blue or the red.
• What do you want to do first, put away the blocks or pick up the books?

3. Make words and phrases positive

• Let’s leave the room tidy and put all the Lego away. vs You guys clean up this mess and put those Lego’s away.
• Keep the paint on your paper, OK. Vs Don’t make a mess.

Recently a mom said to me, “When I want my children to clean up after themselves I say, “Put away your project rather than put away your mess.” Isn’t that brilliant! I mean, who wants to clean up a mess. But putting away an important project, well now, that’s a horse of a different color.

4. Speak as if they have already bought in.

• When you get your room done we will have a snack.
• When we get done picking up the living room we’ll go for a walk.

5. Try saying thanks at the beginning rather than at the end.

• Please put your shoes in the closet. Thanks for helping.
• Can you help me sweep the walk? I appreciate your help.

Using words well generates positive energy and feelings. The more positive the words the better chance for the outcome we want. Using words positively and well is a skill. Skills can be learned. We do it by practicing and remembering that simple things, done consistently over time, bring BIG results.

Have an experience using the power of words? Please share. We would all love to know!

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Touchpoints For Summer PRESENCE

As much as we love summer and our kids both can challenge our patience and our energy. The upcoming book – Becoming a Present Parent: Maximizing Presence in Five Minutes or Less teaches you how to use touchpoints to connect with your kids. Let me share one touchpoint that will really sweeten the summer pie!

Maggie doing her family work.

TOUCHPOINT 4 – Chores and Family Work

Thinking about the word WORK can make a parent groan inside because work is often a point of contention in a family. But work can be a place where we create a touchpoint rather than a point of contention if building relationships is our ultimate goal.


Often we get so involved in the management portion of family life that it’s difficult to address the relationship portion. We’ll cover this topic in depth in chapter 9. For now, know that when we’re Present things work out better.

Everyone wants support when facing a tough job. No one wants to be isolated in a mess. We sometimes forget our kids feel the same way we do.

Moms have had the experience of walking into a disaster of a kitchen after a long day. Your family’s watching TV, and here you are, in this messy kitchen. Where do you start?

How does it feel when your husband abandons his show, comes in and begins helping you pick up? And how does it feel when he also asks you how your day went? It’s amazing!

This happens to dads in garages and backyards. How does it feel when your seventeen-year-old volunteers to help get the backyard in order? How about when your thirteen-year-old offers to spend time helping you organize the garage? It feels better doesn’t it?

When a child is faced with what seems like a daunting task, check on them. Put your hand on their back or rub a shoulder and say, “Let me give you a hand.” Help them for 2-3 minutes while having a mini-conversation. Then head off to the next child or to your own work. It makes all the difference in how chores feel and in how well they get done. It solidifies relationships. It allows you to be Present with your child for a few minutes. Chores can be a touchpoint!


Family work is another time when you can create a touchpoint rather than a point of contention. When working as a family we need to keep in mind the objective isn’t just to get another item off the to-do list – we’re creating relationships and bonding our family.

I love gardening alone. I love the quiet and feeling the dirt in my fingers. But I understand it’s an opportunity for me to teach and connect with my grandchildren. Gardening can be transformed into an enduring memory for us all when I remember the garden isn’t what’s important, the relationship is.

Add fun to any work you do as a family – sing, dance as you clean, play great music, tell jokes, laugh, have mini-conversations and lots of random touches.

Things aren’t going to work out all of the time. You’ll have family work that turns into chaos or contention. We’re all imperfect, we get tired, and we have grouchy moments. It’s inevitable. But what if you could make family work more pleasant even one-quarter of the time?

If you can be Present as you work together even one-quarter of the time, your family members will feel supported and relationships will be built. You’ll experience GREAT results in the happiness level of your family.

Happy Summer,
Mary Ann