PEP Blog


Lazy Kids? Start Here.

By Trish Pannuto & Colleen Reed

An 8th grader disinterested in her household chore, accusing Mom of being “too picky,” and a Mom growing increasingly frustrated with her “lackadaisical” teenager.

Does this story sound familiar? The Mom asked Carolyn Hax for advice, who promptly (and to our delight) suggested she turn to PEP to find some balance in her household.

At PEP, we hear versions of this same story every day from parents of preschoolers through teens. Parents describe scenes of defiance, disrespect, power struggles, tantrums, yelling, and laziness.

“How do I get my child to listen and cooperate?”

We appreciated several suggestions Carolyn shared that are also central tenets of PEP’s parenting philosophy:

  • Kids are part of a larger community, and home is their first micro-community. There is no better place than the home to learn how to contribute to the community and to develop respect for shared spaces. After all, someday they will have a roommate.
  • Privileges come with responsibility. Kids will inevitably want greater privileges, for example, a cell phone and there must be a corresponding display of the child’s ability to handle such an expensive device responsibly.
  • Children need time to learn skills and parents who take time to train them. Keep your expectations in check according to your child’s developmental stage. If you’re looking for a table perfectly set, clothing precisely folded, or sharp hospital corners on the bed, your expectations are probably too high. Children will continue to find satisfaction in the job and be willing to cooperate as long as you appreciate their efforts, not the final result. Then do everyone a favor, step back and notice “the good stuff.”
  • Focus on the “needs of the situation” by paying attention to the behavior, not the person. When you say “the litter box needs to be cleaned” rather than “you didn’t clean the litter box,” your child’s defensive posture is much less likely to appear.

As Carolyn Hax said so artfully in her article, “A loving and forgiving household is the ideal teacher of community values — where the roles are clear, the consequences are natural, the respect is mutual, the battles are judiciously picked and the police state is unnecessary.” If you missed Carolyn’s recent article, you can find it here.

Here at PEP, we’re often quoted as saying that “love is instinctual, but parenting is not.” If you’re like any of the thousands of parents who have come through one of our parenting classes, you’ll find new perspectives and inspiration to create better connections with your child.

The concept of encouragement is woven throughout all of PEP’s programs; it’s a fundamental tenet of our parenting philosophy. Who couldn’t use a little encouragement as the summer winds down, your patience frays, and you begin to wrap your mind around back-to-school?

Join us for our award-winning 4-week online classes, Encouragement: Building Your Child’s Confidence from the Inside Out or Redefining Discipline: A No Gimmicks Guide to Raising Responsible, Respectful Kids.

Both classes are offered monthly. Learn new concepts, strategies and get your questions answered by PEP certified parent educators for the low price of $99. Prices will increase to $199 per course in July 2020.


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Parent Encouragement Program
10100 Connecticut Ave.
Kensington, MD 20895

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