Looking for an effective way to motivate your older kids and teens to clean up the house? It’s simple – just sing a song. I use this strategy all the time with my kids, and it goes something like this:
Me: Didn’t I ask you guys to wash the dishes and take out the garbage? Drop what you’re doing and get the work done.
Kids: Aw, but Mom, I need to finish this level!
Me: Video games can wait. Clean-up comes first.
Me: You have five seconds before I start singing the Barney clean-up song.
Kids: Noooo! Anything but that! *Scramble to get the chores done.*
Okay fine, fine. It doesn’t work every time. In fact, thanks to the invention of super-expensive, high-quality, noise-canceling headphones, my kids are now immune to my Mary Poppins treatment. But when their ears are free, my voice allows me to become the all-powerful Enforcer.
If there’s one thing I learned from my years of teaching young children, it is that music can be a very powerful motivator. There is a song out there for every mood, need, or occasion in life. Need a boost to get into an energetic workout? Crank up the volume on your techno/electronica playlist. Need to relax and unwind at the end of a stressful day? Try some mellow smooth jazz or new-age tunes. Need to motivate your kids to clean up the house, improve their manners, or be kind to one another? Nothing motivates like singing the lyrics of Laurie Berkner, Raffi, or Disney showtunes.
Seriously. Want to see a sleepyhead teenage boy climb out of bed at record speed? Just belt out Let it Go at the top of your lungs. Works. Every. Time.
Now if only I could find some lyrics to motivate myself to stop procrastinating on my to-do list…