Years ago I had trouble with one of my sons getting his work done—which wasn’t like him. I blamed it on his allergies and his age (10). One Saturday he wouldn’t mow the lawn. He didn’t have to mow the whole lawn, just his part (each of my 3 boys mowed 1/3 of our large yard). I had tried positive reinforcement, incentives, threats, etc. but nothing was working. He didn’t get to go to my sister’s house—which was always a treat—because he hadn’t mowed the lawn. I told him if he had it done by the time I got back from running an errand, he could go to the grocery store with me (he loved to go grocery shopping). Even that didn’t work. So finally I told him if it wasn’t done by the time I came back from the store, I would probably sit down and cry and think that I was a failure as a mother (I knew that wouldn’t motivate him either, but I was so frustrated).
When I got home later, I couldn’t believe my eyes. He had mowed the lawn! When I asked him about it, he said he didn’t want me to think I was a failure, and that was the reason he had finally done it.
The lesson I learned. It is more effective to sit down and discuss problems and express feelings, rather than threaten, bribe or get mad.