Saturday, 24 July 2010

Mums - train your sons!

I was talking to one of the mums from my daughter's class the other week. A lovely mum, with three sons. I don't know the eldest, but the 6 year old is in daughter's class and a lovely boy, and I've taught the 12 year old this year, who is similarly delightful. That's why it surprised me when she suddenly remarked that she can't get them to do anything at home.

"What do you mean?" I asked

"Well, they don't tidy their rooms, they don't move their dirty dishes, they don't even put their dirty clothes in the wash basket"

And she went on: "They just leave their pyjamas on the floor in the morning. They won't even open their curtains. After they've gone to school I open their curtains, pick up their clothes, make their beds, tidy their rooms. I've no time for anything else. It doesn't matter how many times I tell them, they just won't do it"

"Whooooooooooah!" I thought, "What is this woman doing?! These boys have it made! She's basically their slave!
And that's their view of women.

So what happens when they grow up? What kind of husbands will they be, or how will they look after themselves if they live alone?"

Then, there was a glimmer of hope:

"How do you get Izzy to do things?" she asked.

"Well, I use a tick sheet and incentives" I said.

"What's that?"

"Izzy has a job chart in the kitchen and she has to get four ticks a day to have her riding lesson at the weekend"

"What sort of jobs?"

"Tidy her room, set the table, make her bed, that kind of thing"

The mum looked amazed.

"Izzy does those things?" she asked

"She does if she wants a riding lesson. Eventually these jobs will become a habit and she'll just do them. It's what my mum did with me and my brother. She had us both fully house trained!"

And you know that my mum, the ultimate Working Mum, is my mentor!

"I think I'm too late with my boys" she said, defeatedly.

"Why not start small? Pick one job and an incentive and get them to do it for the next couple of weeks, then build up" I suggested (hoping that it will work with her boys).

"Yes, I will" she said, looking a little happier and a lot more determined.

I hope she succeeds.


Expat mum said...

It does seem to be a bit harder with boys. My 7 year old has a little "contract" pinned up in our kitchen. We came up with it together and it lists about 6 things that he has to do for his $2 pocket money. They're not "chores" as such but piano practice, putting toys away etc. He hasn't earned a single dollar yet!

Working Mum said...

Yes, I do appreciate that boys are different (heaven knows I know that from teaching!), but my mum certainly got my brother trained so it must be possible!

Jen said...

Wow she's made a rod for her own back! My 6 year old has been putting his clothes in the hamper since he was old enough to walk carrying things, so about 18 months?

He also knows toys get tidied up 30 mins before bedtime - because it usually takes 30 mins!

He's seen his big sister do both things for as long as he can remember, and has been encouraged to copy her.

I have to confess I change the beds, but I'm pernickety about that.

Also, in our house, pocket money is one level if your room is tidy, a lesser level if it is not. Daughter rarely gets the higher level! Son doesn't yet get pocket money but does keep his room tidier than his sister so will probably get the higher level more than her.

Oh, and neither is allowed food in their rooms, they each have a water bottle but apart from that, food and drink is consumed downstairs, where I can locate the plates with crusts if they get forgotten! (And before anyone says, oh, that's because they are young, daughter is nearly 12, son is nearly 7, so I have hopes we can continue this way into teenage years).

libby said...

As mother to a boy and a girl, I tried to treat them both exactly the same..not a slave to them just a helper mostly and with more reward than carrot because my mother had given us 3 girls jobs to do in the house but our brother had nothing to do because 'he's a boy'..this made me so mad and I resolved to be different with my kids...and they seem to have turned out well...neither outstanding or monstrous....

Working Mum said...

Jen - I love that pocket money idea; that's one of the great things about blogging - you get lots of ideas from other mums!

Libby - I would have been mad abou that too. Now. I'm curious - how is your brother at housework now?

Moannie said...

Oh does all seem to be going backwards these days.What happend to ' doing as they were told, or asked?' I cannot imagine a scenario where I would have disobeyed my mother...not because I might be punished, but I hated her disapproval.

scrappysue said...

me too , coz those boys will make useless husbands otherwise! we have used several pocket money schemes over the years. our current one involves a base rate per month to cover their cellphones ($10) and a small list of 'exception' jobs (ones they don't get ticks for) and an exceedingly long list of jobs they can do to earn ticks. they get paid fortnightly or monthly and have the potential to earn as much as they like. this is how they saved over $500 between them for our two aussie trips this year.

Snaffles Mummy said...

Gosh, that poor women must be exhausted. My little boy is only 3 and it sounds like he already does more than that. He had done lots of little jobs from only a young age. Things like set the table, tidy up, turn his bed covers back etc.

The poor women of the future are going to have their hands full with those boys.

Hope she does take your advice.

Kelloggsville said...

my daughter's pocket money is alos based around about 10 things and each thing has a price against it. she adds up what she did at the end of each week and is 'paid' appropriately. I started it when she was about 5 and the things on the list change about once every 6 months and as you say many things that were once chores are now just good habits :0)

Tawny said...

K does her jobs too, she puts her clothes away, makes her bed and hoovers her room. She has to do this to get her pocket money, to be fair she does a lot more too.

Working Mum said...

I'm loving all these pocket money schemes and heartened to hear of so many enlightened parents teaching their children responsibility!

Claire said...

I'm not going to comment on the pocket money schemes but rather why boys are harder to train and I think it comes down to they just don't see mess or care about how it looks.

I think girls are much more visual (hence their ability to colour in much more nicely and usually much earlier than boys) and can see mess. Boys eyes seem to look around mess!

Also I think that you can prove this by the fact that not many boys care about what they wear whereas girls seem to be much more visual and vocal about what goes with what and what they wear that day. My two boys will put on whatever outfit I put out for them or if they get their own clothes out then they look a real mess as colours clash etc.

And before I get berated for putting out their clothes, their rooms are generally tidy and they do put their pots away, clothes in the laundry etc etc but I do think you have to get them young and, as you say, make it so that it becomes a habit.

As far as seeing what needs to be done, now that's another story!!!

libby said...

WM...just a quick response to your married someone who was independent and did'nt last...second wife does'nt work and caters to his every need.....figures huh?

Working Mum said...

Claire - You are so right! This goes onto adulthood too. Having read "Men are from Mars ...." I agree that men/boys aren't visual. I suppose that's why it's even more important to give them a list of what to do! And that goes for husbands, too! At least if they've been trained to do stuff, they won't balk at doing the stuff.

Libby - It figures! Wonder how long she'll be happy doing that, though? Maybe one day the worm will turn!