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Role-Play Your Way to Better Behavior

I remember participating in role-playing games as a kid and I never liked them. I always thought they were silly and was a little embarrassed when I had to play my role. However, I now realize the value of role-playing, especially when it comes to teaching kids proper behavior.

I’m sure many of you can relate. I have three girls, so whining just seems to come with the territory. However, my 7-year-old’s whining and smart-mouthing had become more frequent and intolerable. Her dad and I tried taking things away to correct the behavior. We had many talks with her about proper behavior and respect. But, the whining and back-talking continued.

It came to a peak one morning when she asked for a glass of water. I was on my way upstairs so I told her I would get it for her as soon as I came back down (she can’t reach the glasses in our kitchen otherwise she would have done it herself). She whined about how thirsty she was and she couldn’t wait. The whining continued until I came back down to give her what she wanted.

The continuous whining made me snap and I said, “You are too old to be acting like this, this is not how you behave! If someone asks you to wait, what are you supposed to do?”

Do you know what she said (of course in a whiny voice)? “I don’t know!”

At first I thought that response was absolutely ridiculous. How can a 7-year-old not know what it means to wait patiently? Then I realized that it might actually be true. She may be so accustomed to whining with me (not at school, of course!) that it had become a natural way for her to react.

So, I told her to switch roles with me. She was going to be the mom and I was going to be her and we role-played the correct response and behavior. I saw something click inside her head and I knew that she got it, finally!

As silly as I thought role-playing was when I was a kid, I now feel it is an invaluable way to communicate with my kids and I will use this method every chance I get. I’m not saying that she will never whine again, but I now know what I need to do to help her understand how to behave in certain situations.

So, if your child whines, argues, throws fits, whatever the behavior is that you’re trying to correct – role-play away! I hope you see the behavior improve and, more importantly, I hope your child “gets it”.

Talking Cents: Teaching Kids Responsibility and the Value of Hard Work

Too many chores. Too many activities. Not enough time in the day. “Mom, can I have a quarter?” “Dad, can we buy this?” Sound familiar?

Recently, I realized that my kids were perfectly capable of helping out around the house and it was time we started “talking cents” with them. I’m not talking about an allowance for making their beds, keeping their rooms clean, and putting clothes away, which was expected in my house for my 7 and 4-year-old. I am talking about dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, cleaning bathrooms, emptying trash cans…all of the chores that, before now, fell under my list of responsibilities.

There are many different approaches to teaching kids responsibility. My husband and I decided that one way we could do it was to show our kids how they could find opportunities to help around the house and earn “income” that they could use to build a savings account or spend as they choose. It was important to us to help our kids understand that hard work can pay off and realize the value of working together to get something done.

The Plan

  • I used a dry erase board to write their initials each week to keep track of extra chores they completed.
  • My husband and I decided on an amount that was appropriate for their age and complexity of the chores they could complete.
  • At the end of each week, we would help them calculate their income for that week and review all of the things they did to help the family.
  • The 1st and 15th of the month would be their payday.


The chores had to be age-appropriate. For example, my 7-year-old could use the vacuum but it would be too heavy for my 4-year old. I couldn’t give my 4-year-old a bottle of Windex and ask her to clean a mirror, but I could spray it for her or help her spray it and she could wipe it off. Some chores needed assistance depending on the ages of the kids.

Did they do as thorough a job as I would have done? Of course not! But, the point is they are helping, they are learning responsibility, and now whenever they ask me if they can have a quarter for a gumball or buy something in the store I can say, “Sure! Go get your wallet.”

Now that it is their own money they are spending, they will grow a greater appreciation for the value of hard work and learn the concept of “smart spending”.

My 7-year-old is working to earn a new swim bag, my 4-year-old is happy to see her savings grow, and I am ecstatic to have extra hands to help keep our house in order. It is a win, win for all.