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The goal is to get kids to decide to do things themselves. We don’t want to have to follow them around their whole lives asking if they have remembered to buy groceries or pay the bills. When I hear myself telling the kids to do something, more than three times, I know I am nagging and sometimes I can’t help myself, but usually I find a way to help inspire their own motivation. Since I’m the grown up in the relationship I set the standard, like you have to read for fifteen minutes a day because the second grade teacher assigned it, and then I try to figure out a way to get my kid to want to read for fifteen minutes a day, without empty threats or nagging. It might mean modeling by reading a book myself, or reading to him with him in charge of saying some of the words (every ‘the’ for starters), or it might mean I will have him sit with a book or hold a book, or some other approximation to reading a book, for fifteen minutes, all the while laughing at such silliness (holding a book for fifteen minutes??!!), but that is because I know that allowing him to get out of it altogether with no consequence is not good for him.

If I become desperate I might take away something simple like television time or playtime to drive home the point that it really matters to me.

And every time I fail to inspire, without saying a word to my boy, I will try some new tack that could hit the mark, instigating fun or some kind of awareness or maybe even some reading, so he sees that I value and will insist upon this thing he has said he won’t do.