Homework and Chores: How do you get your kid to do them?

How do you set boundaries with your teenager around homework and chores? Well, we're going
to talk about that today on tips on teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage
and family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families to live happier
lives. I lead two organizations teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501 c three organization,
child and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon,
I jump onto Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. Let's answer today's. I'm having
a really hard time setting boundaries with my 14 year old right now. I want him to get all his homework
and house tours done as a precondition to doing other stuff, like before he starts playing video
games or texting with friends. It's causing a lot of stress and tension, and he tells me stuff
like, but my friends get to do it. How do I respond to this and make healthy boundaries? Thank
you for your question. I think every parent can relate

to this conundrum. This is not a new thing. This has been going on since any of us were born of kids
and teenagers resisting homework and chores and wanting to do more preferred activities.
But the goal that you have is you want your son to get his homework done and his chores done before
he connects with his friends online and has fun. Sounds reasonable enough. There are some caveats
to this, though. If you want to set this boundary first, can you enforce it? If you cannot enforce
this, don't do it. Number two, is it reasonable? It sounds reasonable, but let's look at it.
How much homework does he have a night? You may say if he just did it, he'd do it an hour and a half,
but it takes him 4 hours. And you may be right, but he emotionally and attention wise, he may not
have a capacity sit down and grind through an hour and a half. It just may not be in his mental makeup
at this time of his life. So that's something to consider. Chores. How much time does he have
for chores? If he did it,

would he finish it in like 20 minutes or is like 2 hours of chores? It really depends. So from his
perspective, if I do all my chores, no more first. Well, then after that, I'm just going to bed.
I have no time to be with my friends, and I hate this. And then not right now. All my friends are
playing FIFA or Call of Duty or whatever game it is that they want to do, and I'm feeling left out.
So I think it's important to, number one, recognize what is within your teenager's capacity
to do. Number two, have empathy that he's feeling left out. We all know what that feels like,
and it feels horrible, especially when you're 14 when all you want to do is be accepted and be
connected To Your Peers. So have empathy. Have Compassion. If you're going to set these boundaries,
set them with compassion and love and understanding. I know it's hard, but the sarcasm get rid
of it. The raised eyebrow, the snarky comments, they don't really help anyone. They don't help
your son. They don't help you. No one

feels better but have the compassion and still set the boundaries. But also, I would encourage
you to invite him into collaborating with you on how to set these boundaries. He may have some
ideas. And maybe if he has a voice in creating these boundaries, maybe he's a little more vested
in falling through on these boundaries, whatever they are. Maybe, he says, I want to come home,
take a break. Play video games first, and then do homework. A lot of kids can't do that. A lot of
kids can't transition from video games to homework. Some kids can. It's really up to you to determine
and connect with your kid. Is your kid able to do that? And again, every kid is going to be different.
So incorporate your kid in the planning of this in setting these boundaries. The more he's involved
or for your daughter, the more she's involved, the more they are likely to be vested in this program
or this policy you have. But they will do it imperfectly. They're not going to be perfect. And
you have to allow them

to fail. And without your judgment, without your criticism, without your ire. I know this is
hard to do. I get it. I'm a parent as well. It just gets in the way. Our emotional needs are not what's
important here. It's about your son's emotional needs. And he has this big emotional need of
being connected to his friends. So how do we have both where he can be connected to his friends
and still be responsible around the house? Imperfectly. He's not going to do it perfectly.
Every Time. Don't expect perfection. But if the boundaries are in place and they're solid,
and you're enforcing them with compassion. Eventually, he will come around and do better.
Never perfect, just better. Anyways, that's our question for today. Thank you so much for emailing
us. We love your questions. If you have a question you'd like me to answer, here on Tips on Teens.
Email us at tipson teens at teen ##therapycenter dot or you can direct messages right here on
Facebook. We love your questions. My name is Kent Toussaint

with Teen Therapy Center and child and Teen counseling. If you want these jumping in your feed
more regularly, make sure you join our Facebook group Tips on Teens. We love having you there.
Feel free to be part of the community. Thanks again, guys, and I'll see you next Wednesday. Bye.


So you want to set some boundaries with your teenager so that they’ll do their homework and chores? Get ready to join the ranks of parents spanning the millennia of parenthood. Parents since the beginning of time have been wanting their kids to do stuff their kids don’t want to do.

When it comes to boundaries around homework and chores, there are a few basic rules of thumb:

  1. If you can’t enforce the boundary, don’t do it! You’re never going to get results if you can’t make good on what you say.
  2. Ask yourself if what you’re asking of your kid is reasonable. By this we mean: is it even with their developmental and emotional capacity to do what you’re expecting of them? Most likely the answer is no.
  3. Collaborate! If you allow your kid to have a voice in whatever rules you set around homework and chores, they’re more likely to be vested in it.


If you’ve collaborated with your child and come up with a plan for homework and chores that they’ll actually be able to follow, you’re off to a good start. But the last component to success is this: remember, they’re going to fail. They’re not going to be perfect. You have to allow them to fail. And when they do, you as the parent need to take the high road. Abandon all sarcasm, snarky comments, raised eyebrows, etc. and respond with love and compassion.

There’s more to say about it, and we take on the chore in this Tips on Teens:

“I’m having a really hard time setting boundaries with my 14 year old right now. I want him to get all his homework and house chores done as a precondition to doing other stuff.  Like before he starts playing video games or texting with friends. It’s causing a lot of stress and tension and he tells me stuff like ‘but my friends get to do it.’ How do I respond to this and make healthy boundaries?” 

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.