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Does Your Child Say This? "I'll do it later."

by James Lehman, MSW
Does Your Child Say This? I'll do it later.

Does Your Child Say This? "I'll do it later."

When kids act out, they aren’t always confrontational. One way children get around the rules of the household is to procrastinate and put parents off until they eventually stop asking kids to help out. While many parents rationalize, “It’s easier if I just do it myself,” what you need to understand is that you are setting your child up to have a false sense of entitlement later on in life, a belief that “the world owes them something.” Here, James Lehman gives parents some effective responses in the face of your child’s passive resistance. 

“I’ll do it later.”

Translation: If I put it off long enough, you’ll give up and I won’t have to do it. You’ll probably even do it for me.

Ineffective parenting response: “Ok, but make sure you get it done.”

Effective parenting response: “Well, that’s fine. But you won’t get your allowance until it’s done.” Or, “Well, that’s fine, but you can’t use the phone until it’s done.”


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James Lehman, MSW was a renowned child behavioral therapist who worked with struggling teens and children for three decades. He created the Total Transformation Program to help people parent more effectively. James' foremost goal was to help kids and to "empower parents."

READER'S COMMENTS

a good approach I think

Comment By : jplman

I totally understand cause my oldest does that to me but she has a cell phone she can have taken away.That really gets her when I do that. She stomps off mad as a wet hen,but she gets it done.

Comment By : dee

My son and I are currently in a stalemate but I know that I have the strength to outlast him. He has to make amends to his sister by doing her chores this week and has refused to do them or his own chores. I accidently came into possession of his cell phone and have told him that he will not get it back until he has done all the chores he missed this week. He has been ranting and raving for the past 2 days demanding the phone and threatening to call the police on me for stealing it. I just chuckle to myself ( THANKS to the training I have received thus far from this program) and restate to him that if he wants his phone returned he must do the chores. This morning he did some of the garbage but not all. I will hold out as long as it takes. It feels good not to be upset and arguing with him. I feel so much more in control.Thank you TT.

Comment By : Linda B

Right on--I feel like one of the most important responsibilities of parenting is teaching kids to be aware of consequences -- helping them be able to cope (even avoid) negative consequences. So, clean your room and then you can talk on the phone. I feel this translates to real life -- if I perform well at work I am rewarded...why not let kids learn this now.

Comment By : mother of 4

My child out right refuses to help with anything around the house. When I tell her to wash the dishes or pick up the house, she says no. I have taken away going to friends house, them coming to our house, house phone, hand held game. Her response to all of this is one I'm ruining her life, second is to go to her room and stay the entire time I'm home. Help!

Comment By : byoung

excellent comments. I let my older one back me into a corner but the youngest one will not have that opportunity thanks to these comments

Comment By : out of patience mom

Total Transformation has been helpful to me. I also read everything else I can get my hands on, because my daughter is very strong-willed. If I stopped with the consequences in the article, nothing would change, because in her mind, the pain of compliance is worse than the pain of discipline. I have to remove every pleasurable activity I can remember seeing her do before she feels it. My daughter has to lose access to ALL electricity (batteries included) and all aspects of a social life. Then, she sees that she "has no life" and starts to comply and practice some life skills.

Comment By : artistmom

For the mom of the outright refuses youth - byoung - Can you ask this:"Will you please let me know when the ain't gonna do's are over?" "I will be busy.....and may not notice when it is time to give back your privileges, thanks" Then check the calendar the day you say this. Go about your business as usual and when the 'revolt' is over count the days and simply say "ok I handled your responsibilities for x number of days during your decision to not - so you will get your privileges back after the same number of days and will keep them until you no longer tend to your responsibilities. Then we will continue to repeat this until you understand that these are YOUR responsibilites and with responsibilities comes privileges and vice versa. Then just keep doing this - at first the time will seem long and 'noisy' but track it and you will be able to see the length shorten and the comments subside THAT's when you know the child is understanding the connection between the two are finally meeting up. The first time seems like an endless self punishing nightmare - but after the first success it will become a new way of living - in peace and with responsibilities :) :)

Comment By : JW

My 14 yr old loves that line. Problem with mine is he isn't materialistic so taking things away, ain't cutting it. On top of that taking away his social life only pisses him off & then he is a real pain to live with. Plus he stil will not do the task...ever. After about 2 weeks of this "non-abusive" yet annoying behavior his father ends up caving & letting him go somewhere. I could just kick him when he does that. Anyone got any ideas?

Comment By : David's Mommy

I have a 10 year old who is a prime example of the "I'll do it later" mentality. I set a 15 (or whatever is appropriate) minute time limit and start the timer. When the buzzer rings, the task must be completed. Then I tell him when he wants to go swimming or play with a friend, he'll have to wait the same amount of time it took him to complete the chore. He has decided it's easier to just do it than say I'll do it later. I teach so I also use the total transformation strategies in the classroom.

Comment By : ds

I am raising my grandson. He has been diagnosed with , ADHD, OCD, ODD Asbergers,and RAD which goes hand in hand so needless to say he has been very difficult to raise. The rule in our house is no breakfast until your chores are done and they are not done until I check them and say they're done. You have until 7:30am Please give yourself plenty of time and be up by 6:am He has gone without breakfast on several occassions. His chore list is detailed so there is no room for mistakes. If they aren't done or not done properly by 7:30 am the next meal is lunch. He also argues that he is done, asks me everyday whats not done and I tell him to rechcheck the list. He'll argue that he rechecked his list. That is very unlikely if all his chores aren't done so now he loses priviledges for every argument, starting with no electronics, no bike, no friends, no fishing etc. At times he ends up having what we call a nothing day. "nothing to do" The one thing I never take away is reading since it does help calm him down, helps him focus and gives him something to do.

Comment By : Kids or Us

I am raising my grandson. He has been diagnosed with , ADHD, OCD, ODD Asbergers,and RAD which goes hand in hand so needless to say he has been very difficult to raise. The rule in our house is no breakfast until your chores are done and they are not done until I check them and say they're done. You have until 7:30am Please give yourself plenty of time and be up by 6:am He has gone without breakfast on several occassions. His chore list is detailed so there is no room for mistakes. If they aren't done or not done properly by 7:30 am the next meal is lunch. He also argues that he is done, asks me everyday whats not done and I tell him to rechcheck the list. He'll argue that he rechecked his list. That is very unlikely if all his chores aren't done so now he loses priviledges for every argument, starting with no electronics, no bike, no friends, no fishing etc. At times he ends up having what we call a nothing day. "nothing to do" The one thing I never take away is reading since it does help calm him down, helps him focus and gives him something to do.

Comment By : Kids or Us

I fostered a girl for 2 years and she had a dreadful effect on my relationship with my daughter. I am now trying to re-establish my relationship with my daughter, and it's tough going. She refuses to clean her room, refuses to help with chores. I have taken privelidges away, and she doesn't seem to care. One of the things that worries me is her violent tantrums. She throws things, plates and cutlery, the remote control etc, as hard as she can. As I am not well, she was to take the rubbish downstairs, she didn't .. it's still there, the bins have been emptied, her room is still a mess. She is sullen and sulky. I have not closed the communication and have tried to be positive with her. Her comments .. 'Meh' .. 'tough' .. 'I'm a teenager, I'm supposed to be horrid and messy' Any suggestions?

Comment By : Pat_H

* Dear ‘Pat_H’: When trying to rebuild a relationship with your daughter, remember to ‘catch her being good’ and to share everyday experiences with her. James Lehman, author of the Total Transformation Program, reminds us “It’s the parent’s job to support and encourage the learning process.” One way to do that is to recognize when your daughter does something well and make a positive comment about it. James says that paying attention to a behavior will encourage that behavior to increase in frequency. It will also help to increase good feelings between you and her when you give her a genuine, specific compliment. One of the most effective relationship building experiences in a family is eating meals together. This makes the child feel very important because you’re sharing your companionship with them. Eat dinner around a table with no TV on in the house. Use dinnertime to ‘just visit’ instead of bringing up concerns or asking uncomfortable questions of her. Consider sharing her chores with her and ask her to join with you when you’re doing work. Doing household chores alongside someone else can be energizing and feel like you’re ‘sharing the load’. For example, volunteer to help her clean her room. Tell her you recognize that it’s gotten to be a big job that needs to be tackled piece by piece. Suggest that you’ll get the laundry on the right side of the room while she gets the laundry from the left side, etc. By the way, it’s important to let her pediatrician know the details of her violent tempers. If you find that power struggles trigger these temper tantrums, read this excellent article by James Lehman: Avoiding Power Struggles with Defiant Children: Declaring Victory is Easier than You Think http://www.empoweringparents.com/How-to-Avoid-Power-Struggles-with-Defiant-Children.php. Remember to call the trained specialists on the Support Line for more ideas on how to use the techniques from the Total Transformation Program in your specific situation.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

my child is 12. she is the biggest procrastinator that ever lived and frankly she is just plain lazy. she will take 2 hours trying to get out of a chore that won't even take her 2 minutes to complete. it is most frustrating. and, no matter what i take away she just says i don't care. phone, tv, computer, etc. she doesn't care. she is so stubborn. HELP.

Comment By : frustrated grandma restarting up motherhood again

* Dear frustrated grandma restarting up motherhood again: What can help when a child is procrastinating is to structure a specific start time and finish time for completing a chore. Have it occur at the same time each day so your child can learn to plan to transition from what they are doing to chore time. The chore has to be completed during that time in order to earn a privilege. Make sure your child can accomplish this task in that time. For example, you can request that right after supper, your granddaughter has 15 minutes to put her laundry in the laundry area. If she doesn’t do this, she loses some of her free time on her computer that night. For more ideas on this topic, read Janet Lehman’s article, Kids, Chores and Responsibilities.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

My girl is 15.She ia an artistic,very imaginative girla with great creativity.Of course, I'm proud of her. But, it's very difficult to get her things done. Mostly she seems to be preoccupied with something(from her childhood),living in some other world. She has agood sense of humour, she laughs,makes fun, everything. but doing chores,nil. If I take away her laptop,or her other favourites, she does the work,but with resentment. That hurts me. After all, it's her work, I want to make her do it, willingly, and happily.(My 10 yr. old does that v. happily).Any suggestions?

Comment By : mother of 2

* To ‘mother of 2’: I can hear how hurtful and frustrating your daughter’s lack of happy cooperation is to you, but try to remember that by worrying about how your daughter feels you are causing more stress for yourself. If you can take away your daughter’s laptop and she will get her chores done, that’s great! You’re doing exactly what we recommend. Just don’t focus on her attitude or how she feels about doing her chores—she doesn’t have to like it, and her dislike for it has nothing to do with you. As you said, it’s her work, she can do it with whatever attitude she wants so long as it gets done. The message you want to send is that she is going to be held accountable for getting her work done and having an attitude about chores doesn’t get them done any faster. If you continue to find her attitude hurtful, find something to do that is calming or soothing, something you enjoy to help you feel better. Remind yourself that we can’t require others to feel a certain way. Your daughter doesn’t have to be happy about chores, but she does have to do them. I am including an article about attitude for more information, as well as one about how to take care of yourself when you’re frustrated with your daughter. We wish you luck as you continue to work through this.
Calm Parenting: Stop Letting Your Child's Behavior Make You Crazy
How to Deal with Teens with Attitude

Comment By : Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor

I just don't understand why my 14 yr old refuses to help. She's constantly asking for friends to come over or to go to their house. Today, w/o my permission, she brought a friend home; so I took her home(the friend)and argued(yelled)with my daughter before taking the friend home. For over a week I've been asking/telling her to take her clothes and put them in her room. She REFUSES to do it. I moved them so she would have to step on them..she just moved them to the side!! She said to her friend, "my mom's in a bad mood-she's been in one for a week"! UGH

Comment By : at my wits end

:( ok so I'm 13 and I REALLY love my mom. A lot of times, I will tell her I'll do it later, and I really mean it... I just can't do it at the time for example: I'll be doing homework of I'll need a break from a super hard day at school because I was up all night the night before doing homework.... I hope my mom doesn't think that this is how I mean it.... :(

Comment By : Daughter response

Hi, I am a fourteen year old girl, and I would just like to say that your translation of "I'll do it later, is not always the case, mabye some of the time, but not always. As a teenager I find my self often saying "I'll do it later" but that to me means "I am busy/want to do something else now, can't I do it later." As it is I often accidentally forget to do it later, but not deliberately. I know that this is not everyone's translation, but I find that it is quite a few teenagers meaning behind that phrases. Mabye you should ask, why they can't do it now; if they can come up with a good reason not to (such as doing chores, homework, excersize...), don't take away a privilege, if they say something unreasonable (because they don't want to, watching TV, too tired when the haven't done anything that day...) take away a privilige. Often I find that I am studying, when my parents come up with another chore that I should do, which stresses me out. So I say that I will do it later, which gets me in trouble! I have read through some articales here, and I am sure that they apply to some teens, but remember, not everyone behaves like this articale would suggest, and often the problems are just misunderstandings! This was not meant to be rude or offensive in any shape or form; I am sure that the writer of these articales knows a lot and helps a great deal of people, me included sometimes, but I just wanted to explain that there are often several sides of a story, and that this wasn't the only one! Thank you!

Comment By : 14 year old girl!

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Related keywords:

I'll do it later, refuses to do chores, rules of the household, passive resistance, procrastinating, procrastination, children, kids, teens

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