I Feel like I’m Losing Respect and Control over 11 Yo & 9 Yo

Updated on December 30, 2018
S.O. asks from Reno, NV
9 answers

I have 11 yo daughter and 9 yo son. I’m starting to feel like I’m losing control and I’m getting lazy in my parenting. I feel like we’ve gotten so out of a routine, it’s almost impossible to get them to do anything I ask the first 3 times. It always takes me yelling and losing my temper to get them to do what I ask. I need guidance on how to start small and get things back on track. I feel like I’m doing my kids a disservice by letting them get away with not doing stuff around the house.

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answers from Boston on

Welcome to parenting the tween years. This is practice for the teen years, so you are wise to get a handle on it. Your 11 year old is starting to exercise her independence - a good thing. Except she's doing it by ignoring you - a bad thing. The younger child is emulating her, probably. Unless he's gotten away with more stuff as the "little one" and she's emulating him. Doesn't matter, really. The answer is the same.

You've learned that yelling doesn't work. Good. You've learned that 3 warnings is one thing for a 3 year old, and totally inappropriate for older kids.

Take comfort in the fact that you have not lost control. You have yielded control to them, and you just need to take it back. You have a few days of school vacation before they go back, so now's the time for a sit-down. Call it New Year's Resolutions, if you want to, but remember that resolutions are often just wishes and not rules.

Take today and write a list of every single thing your kids want. Make a sheet with 3 columns: daughter, son, both. Every single time they ask for something (make me breakfast, drive me to Julie's house, get me a snack, buy XYZ at the supermarket, wash my good jeans...), write it down. Put a star only next to those things they asked for politely, with a "please" and no attitude. If they do anything without being asked, write it down and star it (making a bed, picking up toys...) Then write down the stuff you do without being asked: 3 loads laundry (washed, dried, folded, put away), walk the dog, prep school lunches, empty the trash, clean the bathroom, write out the grocery list, drive a carpool already arranged, dinner prep, table set, dishes cleared, dishes done and put away, grocery shop/unload/put away. Write down stuff you had to do to provide safety or peace in the house (referee or redirect an argument to quiet it down, remind them to put on a seatbelt, shut off the overflowing sink, move the bikes out from behind the car...)

Now, change your attitude. Short of "paying the mortgage" and "driving to the doctor," everything on that list is something you are willing to do in exchange for appreciation and cooperation. Inform them that, come Jan. 1, none of it will be done without A &C (appreciation and cooperation). You can assign jobs, or have them pick. They can trade if they do it quietly and you don't have to referee. Between the review of the lists and Jan.1, inform them you will be available for lessons in the assigned tasks: how to load the dishwasher, how to do laundry, how to sort the recycling, how to make a sandwich and clean a lunch thermos, how to clean a toilet...)

Starting Jan. 1, they aren't getting stuff on their "ask" or "expect" list unless they do the chores assigned. No rides to Julie's house, no friends over, no playdates, no going to birthday parties (with a purchased gift), etc. That doesn't mean that they make a bed and then you have to do something for them. None of that - just refer them to the list you're already doing. You can post a list for school by the door if you want, showing contents of backpack and a general homework reminder, lunchbox, etc. They are responsible for this. Put a basket or bin for each kid, and pitch all shoes, gloves, toys and books into this. They can be responsible for finding their own stuff. Laundry? You are no longer doing an emergency load just because someone left their favorite shirt or their soccer uniform on the floor or under the bed. If they go to school with a wrinkled shirt or missing some homework, they can survive. No one gets kept out of college because they had to miss recess for a skipped assignment, you know? Let them incur the consequences NOW.

The trick is to stop fighting and start managing. You hold all the cards, You really do. You just have to stop any concerns that you'll be seen as a "bad mom" if they go to school in a shirt they wore 2 days ago or without a homework paper or permission slip. You have to not care what they say about you to their friends. You have to care much more about giving them life skills and responsibility. Do not relent. Do not complain if a job isn't done exactly as you would have. They still need you in other ways, as a counselor and advisor - that doesn't mean they need you as chief cook and bottle washer. Your job is to teach them, not be Ms. Popularity. When it's time for your kids to get a learner's permit or to go off with friends without adult supervision, you will be very happy that you endured their eye rolling now and created self-sufficient, capable, responsible decision-makers.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My personal attitude has always been about personal responsibility and natural consequences. I hated charts, yelling, fighting, punishing, bribing, etc. Not only did it stress me out but I felt like it didn't really teach my kids anything.
So, what worked for us was this: I took care of the basic chores (I was a full time homemaker.) If my kids wanted anything extra I assigned them tasks to earn it. This could be anything from a few dollars to go to the movies or having a friend or two sleep over Saturday night. That put the ball in their court and if they didn't want to put in the effort they didn't get the privilege.
BUT, they were still expected to clean up after themselves. Scrub the bathroom? No. But put their dishes in the sink, pick up their toys, laundry in the basket, stuff like that? Yes. That was just a given, from the time they were preschoolers, so there wasn't too much fighting about it, and if there ever were any issues I would just turn off the TV and/or video games until things were done and it usually got right back on track pretty quickly.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Find their currency. If it is screen time, they need to earn it. Have a small list of what is expected of them every day. For each thing they do on their own or with only ONE reminder they earn 5 or 10 minutes of screen time. Once all tasks are finished, that is what they earned. They can "spend" all of it that day or save part of it for the weekend, etc. Make sure you keep track of what they earn and set a timer for the screen time while they are playing games. And stick to it with no arguing or begging.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

We have always had the same approach as mamazita. That has worked well for us.

I am guessing your kids don't see it as 'helping' you. My kids see the value in helping out (we instilled that early on), so they help with meals, etc. Everyone has a small role. Otherwise, we don't eat.

Same - if they want clean clothes, then help out - bring it to laundry room, and you can help fold and take it back to your room. It just goes without saying here. There's no yelling.

For extra cash (for Christmas gifts, movies, etc.) they take on projects. We start them out, then they take over. We supervise to make sure it's done right.

Yesterday I paid a tween to vacuum up all the stray pine needles, coil up all the lights, etc. It got done, and now they know how to do it - and I didn't have to :)

It's easy if it's helping you out. You don't have to *think* of teachable moments. It's how our parents taught us. Otherwise they won't learn how to do this stuff.

It teaches kids that they have to do it fully and correctly - otherwise they don't get paid. My older kids got service jobs - and this has served them well.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

'The quickest way to fun is to get the work done'

In our house screen time didn't start until chores and homework were completed.
Just tell them to do a thing once and don't repeat yourself.
They will learn that once is enough.
Don't yell, just take a break when you feel you are losing your temper.
Have a bath or do something fun for yourself.
Your oldest should be doing her own laundry - when 9 yr old is 11 then he'll be doing his too.
Teach her how and then it's up to her when she does it but if she runs out of clean clothes it's a natural consequence and she'll learn to do it without you being involved with it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Often children react negatively because of the way we said things. I suggest you read How to Talk So children Will Listen and How to Listen.So Kids will talk.by Adele Faber.

I also suggest finding Parenting with Love and Logic. They have a web page that explains their focus. I found both useful.

You say your children don't respect you. Yelling at them is also disrespectful of them. When we yell we frustrated and see no way out. Yelling shows that we have no power. Count to ten. Take 3 deep breaths before so you don't yell at the kids.

I suggest including them by giving them choices for chores. Have basic requirements such as picking up their clothes. A natural consequence is for them to not have the use of them for a specific period time.

I let my daughter and granddaughter have a messy room as long as trash is picked up and put in garbage and I can see the floor.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Stop asking three times, that is too frustrating for you and gives them the option of ignoring you the first time. You have the right to be respected and listened to, every human being does, and you are their mom. I’m not sure what used to happen in your family, so it’s hard to say exactly how to start small to get where you want to be. In general, younger children typically want to help parents with adult work, so the best approaches regarding chores, in my opinion, take advantage of this and let them do whatever they are motivated to do, even if it’s done sloppily. There is work to do in family life, and I think it’s important that children feel a part of family life and feel good about contributing. Did your children used to listen willingly? Do you have certain things you regularly ask them to do, and they used to do those things but have stopped? What do you mean when you say you’ve gotten lazy with the routine? What is the routine? Are you a single parent or is there another parent involved and what is their attitude on household work?

In general, to help older children who are not interested in helping anymore, I think you have to find a routine that everyone contributes to and feels enthusiastic about. So, have a conversation with everyone about this, what work needs to be done, how they think they would like to contribute to getting it done. When asking them to do something, consider your tone and attitude. Children want to help, but they want to feel respected and important too. I always asked, never demanded, and also considered their views might be different than mine. For example, it was easy for them to see that, for example, the pets needed to be fed and they were always happy to help with that. They also understood the value of clean laundry, folding and putting away. But, I had to acknowledge that keeping the house clean was something that was being done for me, because they really didn’t care (until they got older) if, for example, someone left dirty socks on the floor. But I did, and they love me, so they learned to pick up after themselves. If they forgot, I would just put my arms around them, and say “sweetheart, did you forget to pick up your socks?” Kindness works.

I found that throughout their childhoods (they are young adults now), they would do whatever I asked, when I asked once, and only occasionally had to remind them. We did not have regular chores, just expected them to do whatever was asked of them, which worked for us, because that’s how my husband and I work too, we do what needs to be done (laundry, garbage, cleaning, etc), although we did have a structure that involved turns with cooking, so that it was clear whose night it was to cook. That always needs to be done!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I think the biggest key is to not resort to yelling. I try really hard to set up consequences and reminders to my kids in advance, and then, as calmly as I can, implement then. For example, we have two standing rules in my house. One is that they must acknowledge that they heard me when I tell them something. A simple "OK" is fine. If they don't, I get in the way of what they are doing and say "Did you hear me?" (stand in front of their video game/put my hand over their iPod). The second is that if I have to ask them to do something 3 times, the 3rd time I say it, I take away whatever they are doing. If they are playing on their iPod and I ask them to do the dishes, I wait for the "Ok" (I also accept reasonable requests such as "Can I finish my game? It will take 10 minutes.". After a few minutes (or whatever time I agreed to if they requested to finish the game) if they haven't started, I say "It's time for dishes, this is the second request." They usually go at this point, because after a few more minutes if they still haven't started I say "I'm on 3, so I'm taking the game now." And I take it out of their hands/turn off the TV/whatever immediately ends what they are doing.

The first time you do it, there will be crying and anger and general "end of the world' behavior on their parts, but if you stay calm and don't give in, next time they will listen because they will want to save their game and not lose their progress by having you take it away right in the middle.

Make sure they know in advance what the expectations are, and then hold them to it. That is how you get started on the right track.

ETA: Others will say that you shouldn't have to remind them. I still have to ask/remind, but I'm happy with kids who listen and do what I ask them to without any yelling.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

I want to start with making a chore chart having them check off every time they did what they were supposed to do. If they don't do their chores start taking away things that they like. For example my daughter loves loves her phone if she doesn't do what I ask I take it away for the rest of the day,evening or forever how long.

1 mom found this helpful
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