When used correctly, the After–Then Director Role Strategy is an effective soft-power approach to guiding kids to do chores in particular. I used this strategy to get Jen to do her chores of cleaning the bathroom and emptying the dishwasher. instead of nagging her.
Many clients love this strategy because it is so effective when done correctly.
Timing is of the essence. Use this ……wait for it…..when kids ask to do something that you approve of.
Immediately think to yourself….what chores hasn’t my child done yet?
Are the dishes done, trash emptied, room cleaned, bathroom cleaned, dog walked or fed, washing machine emptied……. etc.? What have they agreed to do but I haven’t wanted to nag them about it?
Because, at this moment, they have a strong desire they want fulfilled. They have set up the After–Then perfectly for you to step in and use it to get the chores done.
You are not trying to create a need which often doesn’t work. The most successful result is when they have requested the play. This way, they already have an internal drive to do whatever they have to do (work) to get what they want (their play.)
They must already know what is expected of them. Do not come up with a new expectation. This won’t work. They will fight you against the injustice they feel about you springing a NEW chore onto them. The chore needs to have already been decided and agreed upon and hopefully written down as a commitment.
This also means that you need a relationship where your child actually asks you for permission. A relationship where your child knows that at times, you are the boss.
If your child is already doing the “play” then it won’t work. If they are already on their cell phone playing games, you don’t have the power to make them stop by saying, “After you take out the trash, then you can play video games.” Their response will likely be either, “I’ll do it later”, “I’m in the middle of playing this game”, or even a direct. “No” or just to ignore you.
In short, the After-Then strategy goes –
“After you (do the work) then you can (do the play).
As you decide to do the After strategy, it’s important to know when NOT to use it.
- You are mad. They will respond to feeling attacked or hurt instead of hearing what you are saying. Manage your own feelings first.
- Trying to manipulate them. Making up an After-Then without them asking for something first. It may work, but if you have a strong-willed child, it won’t. They will feel manipulated because they aren’t driven by their needs, but rather by yours.
Here are the steps to follow that will almost always lead to success which means cooperation.
- Start with the word “After” and follow with the “work”.
- “After” implies that it will be done. More effective than “when you.”
- If you state the “play” first – they won’t listen after.
- Avoid “if” because it is a threat.
- Remain calm and confident.
- Expect to repeat. Make sure each statement is shortened as you repeat the message.
- Don’t respond to a child saying“Why do I have to”, “You should have”, or “Why didn’t you tell me sooner.?
- Using an empathetic phrase may be helpful. “It sounds like you really want to go. After ……” (WARNING! Don’t say “but” after the empathy.)
- Don’t defend yourself. “It’s not my fault you didn’t already do it.”
- Don’t blame them for not having done it already. They will respond to your criticism instead of taking responsibility inside and completing the task. “If you had done it sooner….”, “You should have…..”, or “You knew….”
Here is an example of how it could sound. Please note that there isn’t any blaming, shaming, or making excuses by the adult.
Child’s request: Can I go to……..house?
The adult quickly thinks, what chore haven’t they done yet?
- Adult – “After you empty the dishwasher then you can go.”
- Child – “But everyone is getting together now.” (No response to this by you.)
- Adult – “After the dishwasher then you can go.” (Fewer words.)
- Child – “You should have told me sooner.”
The adult doesn’t become defensive. This point is crucial for this to work.
- Adult – “Dishwasher first.” Even shorter directive and the adult remains calm.)
- Child – “Oh, alright.” (You may want to add at the beginning that you’ll be checking to make sure it’s done correctly before they go.)
If you wanted to add an empathetic phrase, you could say at any point. “You seem to really love seeing your friends.” Then nothing more, don’t say “but” after this empathetic phrase.
Don’t be fooled when your kids say… “I’ll do it after….” Don’t let them put the play before the work. I’ve never heard of kids following through. You’ll just end up disappointed in them and telling them so.
Your remaining clear and unemotional during this strategy is what kids need. They need to follow through with their obligations so they feel better about themselves and you feel good about them, too.
You can do this! Remember that their prefrontal cortex is still immature so they need you to direct them to get their goals met in a positive way. They can’t do it by themselves until they are around 25 years and older!
Cynthia is available for private coaching sessions so you can quickly get the answers you need and make those much-needed changes right away. Click HERE for a complimentary 45-minute Fast-Track Clarity Session to learn what you can do now to create more harmony in your home.
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