Making my teenager kids get things done

Summer is here along with a great challenge for parents: making our kids do tasks of value. We don’t want them to devote all their time to unproductive tasks like video games, social networks, TV, etc. Challenge is even bigger if we add the well-known communication problems between parents and teenagers. We have two children aged 13 and 11. Quite a challenge, YES!

It’s been a long time since we decided not to ban electronics for them. They use laptops, smartphones, tablets, consoles, etc. It may seem easy to keep these devices with us, and giving them back when kids do what we want. This is easy, but it’s not effective. For instance, they need their computer and their smartphone to do their homework. When I help them with their homework I need to use internet myself.

Technology tolerant parents need to learn a lot to go ahead of their children. They need to be proficient in internet security to advise them on how to behave in social networks, what they are allowed to share, how to react and report cyberbullying, etc.

We also need to install parental control tools. We are using Qustodio to control computer and mobile activity and Screen Time to limit mobile apps and usage time. I’m sure there are better options, but we are relatively happy with these two.

Control is necessary, but it’s not enough. Positive reinforcement is also needed. I have found a useful practice I’m happy to share in this article. Now I think I have in place a sound system to control tasks and provide positive reinforcement to our generation Z kids. If you want to know how it works, please keep reading.

In the past we tried with whiteboards, dots, Post-it®, etc., but we failed for several reasons. On the other hand, we have succeeded when using their mobile apps. It may sound silly, but I think I have more effective communication with my son if I use Telegram! Here you can see an example (Spanish):

The method I am using consists basically of task assignations with Asana. I started with my son last weekend and it seems to be working well. Read the explanation below:

  1. Every morning I prepare the Asana project with each kid’s tasks: I delete last day tasks in section Tasks and Rewards. I keep section Reprimands, since these tasks are supposed to stay stable. I copy and paste from an Excel file to initiate Tasks and Rewards –I can reuse last day tasks, as well.
  2. They earn points when they complete tasks. Since I am follower at each task, I’m notified in my mobile when every change occurs –the task is completed, there is a new comment, etc. Notice that each task/reprimand/reward has associated a number so that everybody can calculate easily the point balance.
  3. When they want a reward, they assign a reward task to me or to his mother. If we agree, then we assign that task back to them. For instance, let’s say my son want to play half an hour in his mobile, then he find this reward and assign it to me. I get notified, and I assign the task back to him. With Screen Time I can unblock his mobile for 30 minutes. When time is up, I can complete the reward task in Asana so that we can see this task is done.
  4. They are not allowed to use a reward if they are not assigned to the specific task. For example, suppose I see my son using his mobile. I can see immediately –using Asana mobile– if he has this reward assigned to him.
  5. Reprimands play an important role. We have to combine positive reinforcement and control, stick and carrot, you know. For instance, if my son is playing with his mobile but he is not allowed, then I can block his mobile with Screen Time and I can complete the reprimand named “disobey[-3]” subtracting 3 points.
  6. Lists are changeable, we need to adjust them continuously. Specially, sections Tasks and Rewards need to be changed with no effort, if we want them to do other tasks or if we want to propose them new rewards. They are encouraged to suggest new rewards. They are free to add new tasks in this section. The same applies to Tasks section: parents and children can add or delete tasks if new tasks are needed or some on the list has no sense yet.

Do you also need to control your teenager kid’s tasks? What do you think of our system? Any comment, please.

This article is also available in Spanish.