My Adolescent vs. Work Habits
parents often come to our Center with their adolescents and complain about their lack of work habits or participation in household chores. For example: “She is 16 years old and can’t even wash her plate behind her” or “My son (15 years old) doesn’t have any work habits. I always have to sit with him and help him do his homework.” Then, when working with our clients, we often get information that the child has never had this obligation before or he has never been asked to fulfill it. You may occasionally wonder why a neighbor’s fifteen-year-old son washes the dishes himself after Sunday lunch and walks the dog every afternoon, and your sixteen-year-old doesn’t? The answer to this question has parents who do everything for their 16 years instead of their children.
Sometimes we do this because we want to protect our child from the world of adults – we are afraid of not being too strict like our parents or we want to allow them to enjoy life as we ourselves might not. If the parents are in the process of divorce or are single parents or may even have difficult life circumstances, so they want to reduce the amount of stress to the child and want to make him as happy as possible and to “be the child for as long as possible”.
However, if the child has not had certain obligations before (e.g. washing the dishes, making the bed, doing homework on their own, etc.), how can we expect him/her to suddenly and magically start doing them? Why would your 18-year-old son suddenly want to do the dishes, if he’s never done it before, when most of us adults often “don’t really” want to do it either, but we do. You may have noticed in yourself, that you probably find it difficult to change certain habits (e.g. the ritual of drinking coffee with sugar every morning), so logically, if we do not have a certain habit – it requires time and effort to realize it. What we want to point out is that the years themselves do not guarantee that we will know how to do something, especially if we have not learned the same thing during them. Your child’s work habits depend on our previous experiences, the attitude of the parents, and also the personality characteristics of the child itself.
In adolescence, our autonomy is increasingly important to us, and making agreements and taking into account their growing need for autonomy could help encourage adolescents to adopt work habits. For example, you can remind the adolescent that he/she will not live with you for the rest of his/hers life and that they want to be more independent – they must learn certain things, such as washing dishes, etc. You can also make „arrangements“ and „deals“, with your child or even arrange a schedule for doing their chores. When those chores become a habit for them, you may not have to have a specific schedule every time. Sometimes, of course, things are more complicated, so they require a lot of effort and listening to the needs reciprocally.
So, dear parents, do not despair! Adopting work habits is not an impossible mission and it is never too early or too late to teach your child certain habits. It should be borne in mind that things will not change overnight and that your child will not greet their new chores with an ear-to-ear smile and enthusiasm. Remember nothing is adopted overnight! Changes are difficult, but not impossible, and you and your child can overcome them together! #wearestrongertogether 🙂
Center Luka Ritz