My Kids Don’t Make Good Choices, What Can I Do?

By Joey and Carla Link
January 27, 2021

One of the greatest frustrations a parent faces is when their kids do the same wrong behavior again and again and again. For us, it was the laundry. Carla washed and folded it and put the clothes in each of our kids’ baskets for them to put away. We didn’t think putting their folded clothes away was a complicated job, but when Carla went by their rooms, she was often astonished where she found the clothes.
You have talked to your kids about the problem with their behavior and given them consequences, yet they keep on doing it. It could be their chores, doing their homework, or putting their laundry away. It is difficult for parents to figure out why they won’t complete their task completely. Their kids know they will have to do it anyway, so why mess around, get caught and then get a consequence for not doing it on time or for not doing it the way it needs to be done?
Why do they do this and what can parents do about it? Instead of getting frustrated with your kids, you need to talk to them in a calm tone when you aren’t angry with the goal to find out why they keep getting into trouble for the same thing. I remember Carla saying to our daughter Briana one time, “Are your dad and I consistent in catching you when you don’t get your stuff done?” (If we weren’t, Carla knew Bri was getting away with it enough to keep her going) Briana told her mom that we caught her most of the time because she knew we checked to see if she was getting her responsibilities done, because most of the time she wasn’t.
Carla then asked her if the consequences we gave her were effective, to which Briana assured her they most certainly were. Carla asked her that if we were catching her most of the time when she wasn’t getting her stuff done and the consequences were effective, and she still had to do the things over the right way, then why didn’t she just buckle down and get them done? We will never forget Briana looking at her mom and saying, “Well, when you put it that way it really doesn’t make sense, does it?” Briana started keeping track of what she needed to do and completed her tasks and schoolwork the way it was meant to be done after that conversation.
Parents need to find out from their kids why they are not doing what they have been taught to do. (Kids 7 yrs old and up)
1.   They didn’t understand the instruction. It’s possible the instruction was not clear enough. They need more understanding. Carla told the kids to put the laundry away. What exactly did “put away” mean to each of our children. When she asked them that question they all said it was to be put out of sight. Laundry baskets shoved in the closet, clean clothes shoved under the bed and for one child put under the covers on her bed was “out of sight” from their perspective. Carla took each one to their room and showed them exactly what she meant when she said to “put it away.” Your job is to make sure their perspective matches your perspective!
2.  When you have multiple ages of kids, young kids often are not given the same clear instruction the older ones received. They don’t learn why they need to do things in a timely manner and the right way. They are also modeling their older siblings who aren’t getting their stuff done so they don’t understand why it is a problem for their parents. Finding out what they understand in a calm one-on-one discussion is a necessary step.
3. It isn’t a big deal to your kids. Your kids don’t think getting their chores or homework done on Mom’s timeframe is a big deal. They plan to get to it eventually and if that’s good enough for them it should be good enough for Mom. This ultimately is a challenge to the parents’ authority and it needs to be dealt with.
Just giving a consequence only makes your kids angry and bitter because they disagree with your philosophy and don’t feel they get to voice what they feel. This isn’t a time for debate but it is the time for discussion.

  • With kids 7 yrs. on up, once you both agree the chores and schoolwork have to be done, ask them what they think is a fair timeframe to accomplish that.
  • Draw a timeline on a piece of paper. Mark the time you want their stuff done by and the time they think is fair.
  • Draw a line in the middle of these 2 times and tell your child that is where a compromise would be.
  • Decide what you both can live with.
  • Ask your child if you can trust him/her to be faithful in abiding by it.
  • Ask him/her what you should do if he/she doesn’t get their stuff done by the time you agreed on.
  • He knows a consequence is the right step for you to take.
  • Ask him/her what he thinks a fair consequence would be.

This is the way your kids will take ownership of getting their things done on time.
4. They don’t want to do it. If your kids know what is right and wrong when it comes to completing their chores and schoolwork and other misbehaviors and they understand why it is wrong, then consequences are the best choice to work on motivating them to decide doing their stuff and getting their misbehaviors under control is the best way to go.
Once choosing the right way becomes a habit for your kids, they will take ownership of these choices. It’s like putting on a seat belt in a car. You may not like it, you may not think it’s needed, but it’s the law, and we need to follow it. Once you accept that, and make it a habit, then it doesn’t become an issue, it just becomes part of our lives. It is the same for our kids and teens.
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”James 4:17