When you try any new “system” with your family or your children, they are likely to resist. It is in children’s nature to fight the change, keep the old ways – especially if the new way means any kind of extra work. I’m bringing this up because many times when parents come up against this resistance, they think they are doing the wrong thing, and they give up too soon. As with so many areas of parenting, I want to normalize the crazy! We all go through this. Knowing this resistance is normal and being prepared for it will help you push through with your new way of doing things until the family gets used to it.
For example, at some point your children will be old enough to start helping with chores. Hopefully they’ve done little, age appropriate chores when they were young (making their bed, unloading the dishes), but then comes a time when you’re ready to give them real chores: daily dish or pet duty or Saturday jobs cleaning the house. When you first introduce this your children will balk; they will complain. They will perform the chores badly such that you feel it would be easier to do it yourself. But don’t! Be kind and calm as you continue to insist they do their chores day after day, week after week, and after a while, it will get better. They will get used to this system as the new normal, and you will have extra help around the house! It takes persistence and dedication from parents to get kids in these habits, but it will pay off in the long run. Your children will be better trained to do chores obediently, and the younger children will follow the older ones’ examples (so it will be easier to train them to do their chores).
Another example is family scriptures. Many families want to hold a daily devotional with their children: reading scriptures, having family prayer, and maybe singing a hymn. If your family is not in the habit of doing this, and you want to start it, be prepared for rough waters! In the beginning there will be a lot of resistance (the older the children are, the more verbal the resistance will be). Younger children will misbehave, older children will roll their eyes and beg to be done. But, stay the course! Be kind and calm as you continue to insist that they stay in the room and participate (or just stay in the room and be quiet), explaining at times why this is important to your family. I promise, over time they will start to behave and even enjoy this family together time.
Whether it’s a new chore chart, a new weekly or daily family meeting, or new rules regarding electronics, your children will put up a fight and try to wear you down until you’re tempted to give up. This resistance is completely normal. Don’t give it weight or too much thought or attention. You have to persevere for a few weeks before you can decide if the new system is a success or not. Making these modifications will help your children get better at adapting to new situations, which is an important developmental skill. Expecting resistance can keep you calm (and kind!) and give you the foresight to keep trying.