Ask Kari: How can I get my kids to listen to me and cooperate?

Dear Kari,

I am a mother to three children and I try to do the best that I can to take care of all their needs, but lately the only thing that happens in our home on a regular basis is fighting about homework and chores. By the time we get home from afterschool activities, nobody wants to finish their homework, eat dinner, and help out around the house without crying and complaining. How can I get my kids to listen to me and cooperate?

Worn Out Mother

Dear Worn Out Mother,
You are experiencing what I call OFS (Overcommitted Family Syndrome), which is common in today’s society. It sounds like you are doing your best to juggle the demands of your family but something is not working and the stress your family is experiencing on a regular basis is not sustainable. But, you already know that. First, I would begin by reviewing as a family what activities you all must do on a daily basis (work, school, homework, household chores, meal times) and what can be cut. Then ask your children to pick one activity that they enjoy and want to continue during the season/school year (notice I did not say multiple activities, as that is where some of the family stress is coming from). Don’t be afraid to stop doing too much. You and you children do not need to join every team, participate in every community activity; it’s okay to say no. In fact, I bet that once you do, you will begin to see that adding down time to you family schedule will alleviate the meltdowns that you are experiencing on a daily basis now. The human spirit needs time to rest and rejuvenate. Remember to just breathe.


As published in the April 2013 issue of Connections.


About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a resident of Issaquah Highlands.

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