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My Best Parenting Tip EVER (What’s Yours?) and a Plea for Help!


Recently I was sharing my favorite parenting tip/discipline idea with a friend, who was raving over it, and I thought, “Wow, that actually IS pretty good, I should share it with my readers!”

So here goes…

When the kids stress me out during the day, either by fighting with each other, not doing their work, whatever, usually I just ground them from something. That’s probably what most of us do, right? My first instinct is to take away TV and video games – that’s my favorite! It’s also what works best around here. If whatever they did was “really bad”, they serve the sentence, period. If I’m feeling generous, though, I’ll let them “earn it back” a little early by giving me a nice long neck and back massage before bed. Good idea, huh? They cause me stress, now they can relieve my stress: the punishment fits the crime. Ha! How long my massage lasts depends on the age, but I thoroughly enjoy it and it brings me great parental satisfaction. :)

Your Turn: What’s YOUR Best Parenting Tip??

Next, I need some help…

One of our kids is SO messy. We want him to be a good spouse someday and we need to fix this! And yes, all kids are slobs to a point and have to be taught to pick up after themselves, but this one is going through an extra slob-streak. Everything he touches stays right where he’s done with it and nothing gets put away. We’ve tried punishments, which haven’t worked, so now I want to try a positive re-shaping program. (Like my name for it?)

I thought of giving him $10 in quarters, and every time we have to pick up something he left around, we take a quarter. Anything left at the end of the week he gets to spend. But $10 is a lot, and the other kids will probably complain that they’re not getting that, too. Plus it feels like we’re rewarding him for being a slob all this time by paying him now NOT to be one. Maybe I’m over-thinking it.

What do you guys think? Or do you have a better idea for us??

The same one is also a terrible procrastinator. His work could take him maybe an hour or two each day, but he manages to stretch it out for 8 hours. He knows he can’t go play ’til he’s done, but he still drags it out. (I plan to try separating him more from the others, he also gets distracted easily.) We finished with our curriculum last week (Yay, 3 weeks before the public school kids, now we’re off on field trips here and there!) so we’re on our summer schedule, which includes chores, brain games, and reading each day, and then weekly they need to get through 3 math lessons, but they get to choose when they do it. They can get it all done in one day or spread it out. He’ll likely wait ’til Friday each week and getting him to knock it out then will be a pain — lots of threats of being grounded, etc. I’m not sure how to fix this except sticking to my guns and making sure there is NO fun until his work is done. Ideas?

new kid by fridayThank you for any help and suggestions you might be able to share! Has anyone read this book: Have a New Kid by Friday? I’ve also always loved this one, Parenting isn’t for Cowards. I should probably pull that one out again.

More you’ll like:

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  1. I am only pregnant with number two, so my suggestion might be silly or already tried. Have you and your husband tried sitting down with him talked about the problem and asked if him if he has any ideas on how to improve the situation?

    • I think asking is good idea. At our house when I am at a loss about dealing with a problem – I ask them to figure out a consequence (of course you have to agree & their silly/not effective ideas aren’t agreed to). I hear a lot less complaining about the consequence they get when they are the ones who chose it to begin with

  2. You could be talking about my almost 9 year old son! I look forward to hearing some suggestions because nothing I’ve tried seems to work either. He is motivated by money but like you, I feel it isn’t really fair to the other kids who just do what they are told… most of the time. We home school too and he is surrounded by his 4 sisters all day. I do think that is part of his problem – being the only boy.

  3. “Raising our Children, Raising Ourselves” by Naomi Aldort. The best parenting book ever!! I haven’t even finished it, but I am sooo happy to have discovered her amazing wisdom.

  4. My along the same vein as Barbara’s, but with a twist. There is a kid-friendly version of finding out their temperament called “The Kids’ Flag Page game.” You can find it here ( No, I’m not an affiliate, just a happy user. This helped me get the pulse of my difficult child and, while it’s not made her less difficult, it’s helped give me words for what’s going on with her, as well as tap into her particular praise words. I hope that helps! :)

  5. My son was easily distracted with a touch of ADHD; we would work on school work for his limit ( about 15 min to a half hour) then he had to run around the house 50 times. He never actually made that many laps, but he was OC enough to count and then he was ready to come in, get a drink and start work again. It didn’t take too long for him to go longer and longer between breaks, and finally have just 2 breaks and a lunch hour in a school day. He’s now 16; we’re still working on messiness! I always have to ask myself, “Will it matter in 100 years?” For me, character does, neatness doesn’t.

    • Hi Patty,

      Yeah, neatness doesn’t bother me too much either, until you can’t see the floor for weeks and they’re scrambling before church for something clean! Plus, we want to raise him with good habits so he’ll be a nice spouse someday.

      But I know what you’re saying, keeping it in balance is good. :)


  6. We sometimes have a similiar problem, particularly with shoes being left out. I charge all of my kids 4 and over a quarter. Sometimes I will give a general reminder and then I will go through the house collecting shoes. I then add up what they owe me. They can either go bring me the change or go look at my list of chores that we pay for and work off the amount they owe me. In our house we do have regular unpaid chores that must be done just because they live in our house and then we have a list of things that I pay for if they choose to work extra so they can have spending money (but in order to get paid their unpaid chores have to be done first). We just got this plan into motion a few weeks ago, but it seems to be working wonderfully. Plus things that I had been wishing I could get to (like wiping down baseboards) are now happening. We needed them to have a way to make some money so that we had a way to teach them to give, save, and spend. At this point we are happy that this encourages them to work and keep things off the floor so they don’t get “fined.”

  7. We must share the same son! Check out Carol Barnier at Sizzle Bop. She’s fantastic. The only thing that works with my son is drill Sargent mom. I don’t like it, but it’s what works. I found out that he is a secret manipulator. He’s so good it took me 9 years to figure that out, so drill Sargent works.

  8. I used to set a timer for my kids. I found that limiting the time helped with the procrastination issue. Actually the timer helps me as well. It is something I learned from Fly Lady. Another thing. Maybe your son has way too much stuff to deal with. Maybe help him downsize?

    • Hi Julie,

      He really doesn’t though, his work *could* take him only an hour or two a day, but he makes it so much longer than it has to be. :(

      I’ll try the timer!


    • I was going to suggest FlyLady, too. Perhaps your son would benefit from doing a 5 Minute Room Rescue or a 27 Fling Boogie. Or even spending 5 minutes morning and evening tidying up his messy “hot spot” would help improve things. Setting the timer and trying to accomplish as much as you can in that time makes tidying up a challenging game rather than a chore.

  9. I’m going to check out the sites and resources that’ve been mentioned so far, thanks everyone and keep ’em coming!


  10. Is he motivated by money? If so why not take the charge out of his existing stash instead of fronting him the money? Then if he runs out he has an ADDITIONAL job to do to earn another stash. My mom used to charge my brother 5c (I guess inflation takes that to 25c now, lol) every time he left a sock or shoe outside the confines of his room. It totally worked! My son (he’s only 4) also works SO SLOW. A good friend recently recommended that I give him a time limit (and set the timer) if he doesn’t get job #1 done then he gets another job. She advised that the second job should be something he will NOT like doing but isn’t time consuming (you don’t want to overwhelm the kid). Oh, and they get no warning. After one time they know for the future, lol. Eg. I ask him to sweep the floor under the table. If/when it isn’t done in 10 min (which is ridiculous already since his 5yo sis can do the same job in less than 1 minute) he has to scrub it with wet rags after he sweeps it. If he doesn’t finish sweeping AND scrubbing then we step it up to official discipline. That has only happened once. After a few times of getting a second, yucky job he has realized that it’s in his best interest to get the first one done more quickly. 😉

  11. I have 3 kids, ages 6 and under so I am by no means a parenting expert. :)

    My kids earn money by doing chores (cleaning their rooms (25cents), emptying the dishwasher (35 cents), feeding the dog (10 cents) making their beds etc). My 3 year old is only doing the easy stuff and as they become more proficient, I give them a “raise.” They don’t get “allowance” they earn “commission.”

    Anyway, we have our kids occasionally get in the habit of leaving stuff in the living areas and I get tired of it too. What I’ve tried recently to great success is at the end of the day if my kids leave toys lying around the house, I pick them up and put them in a box in the garage. If they are missing a toy, I have them look in the box. If they want it back, they have to pay me 1 penny per toy. If they sit in the box for a month, we’ll donate it. They see what’s in the box and we give them fair warning. It might seem harsh to some, but if you think about it, it’s a real-world lesson: if you can’t take care of your responsibilities, you’ll end up paying for it one way or another. If you lose your keys, you have to pay for new ones; if you can’t take care of your yard, you have to pay someone.

    I have learned about money and responsibility via the school of hard knocks; I’m trying to teach them that being responsible in little things will make you more trustworthy with big things. :)

    Hope this helps. :)

    Good luck and God bless you all as you work at raising your children. It’s hard work!

  12. My kids are adults now but we had a family meeting once a week where anyone could bring any issue, everyone would get a turn to suggest a solution or way forward. We would choose one suggestion to trial and decide what the consequences would be if it wasn’t successful.

    It worked really well (it sometimes took a few weeks to work through something) and taught my children (and myself) valuable skills. They both volunteer in the community and run meetings, lead groups etc. They are now great housemates, know how to live with and relate to others, problem-solve, clean, cook and are generally competent, responsible adults.

  13. I get daily emails and when needed visit the website of AHA Parenting. Dr. Markham also wrote a book which I actually never purchased or read. I love her philosophy and backup of studies of what truly works long term vs. short term so depending on my issue I’ll visit the website and look up suggestions. This coming from a time-out mom, but I no longer use that. Although I take yoga classes and practice releasing stress, otherwise it would be way too hard for my short temper and anal retentive attitude towards cleanliness. Combined though I have been really able to see where I can improve with my kids and that they are just kids and it’s up to me to help them learn their way. Ilet me tell you, it is a work in progress…

  14. I’m sorry for saying this and my intention is not at all to sound mean, but I don’t think it’s fair to expose your son’s behaviour publicly like this. What will happen if he reads it now or in years to come? Being labeled a slob or a procrastinator will just make him live up to the standards you yourself are raising for him.

    Maybe you should consider saying “one of my sons” instead of being so specific if you’re really wanting advice from people over the world who don’t know your son or your family’s behavioural issues, relationship, how you parent, etc. to give you advice.

    Sorry for being so straightforward but this post really shocked me. It breaks my heart how sometimes bloggers don’t think twice before over-exposing their children’s private issues which might end up being things they will deal with for life.

    • Hi Alicia,

      You don’t sound mean, you sound thoughtful, and I’m thankful. I did go back and re-read the post to think of him older and how he might feel, and I guess because these are such normal childhood things that really aren’t a big deal (just annoying at times!), I didn’t think it was a worry. However, just in case (I’d hate to make him feel bad later or worse, for him to feel like he can’t trust me!), I will go back and make it a little more general.

      There are so many things that go on around here on a regular basis that I’d like to blog about, though (knowing how things I’ve learned could help others), but I don’t, just for that reason. Thanks for the reminder to be more careful!


  15. Has he been evaluated for ADD? If not that I might be helpful. If it is an issue I would recommend Dr. Daniel Amen’s Book Healing ADD for information on all types of treatment including dietary changes, nutitional supplements, medications. Not everyone needs meds.

    Good luck.


    • Good question, but no, he doesn’t have ADD, he’s just a really happy, active fun BOY. He concentrates really well with things he likes better, he’s great at reading, etc. :)


  16. One day when my 6 yo daughter broke down in tears when I said, Just make the livingroom look like it does when it’s clean, I realized that she was absolutely not a visual learner, but a kinesthetic and auditory learner and she didn’t have a visual memory of a clean livingroom. Walk the messy one through the process of putting things away and maybe have him sing a song while he does it. Or better yet, let him decide on a clean up song – something rocknrolly and gets him dancing and moving while he cleans.

    The procrastinator? Yes, I agree, possibly some difficulty focusing. See if you can break his work down into smaller bites for him. Hope that helps! Much love to you :))

    • It *does* help (I’ll be trying that and other ideas from all you awesome reader friends) and lots of love backatcha Joanie! :)

  17. Something I’ve found that works well with our children is to have them repeat a task, including un-doing the task in order to repeat it. This should be done in a playful and fun way. No scolding or anger. It usually has them laughing after about the 3rd repeat and if a child has a slothful streak, it can be highly motivating to know that if they put off a task, it will mean even MORE work than was initially being avoided. Here is an example: imagine a child leaves her shoes in the middle of the hallway. Mom says, “Please come get these shoes and put them in your closet.” Smile, be cheerful. Child comes to where Mom is standing, gets shoes and puts them in the closet. Wait for about ten seconds, then say, “Please go get your shoes out of the closet.” Child returns with shoes. “Please put the shoes on the floor here in the hallway.” Wait about ten seconds and repeat. So the child puts the shoes away, then gets them out. Then puts them away and gets them out. When the entire household is enjoying this, say, “This should help remind all of us to keep our shoes out of the walkway.” This is even more fun if it involves spilled water. The child wipes it up, then spills some more, then wipes it up, then spills some more. It isn’t punishment, it is just training them to remind themselves of tasks. When Mom makes the training memorable, it gets remembered. Being messy isn’t evil, but it isn’t considerate of the others who live in the home, and we all need to learn to live together in harmony.

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