Q. I ask my 13-year-old repeatedly to clean her bathroom and she doesn't comply. What can I do to stop this constant battle?
A. This question came up at a recent parenting workshop at the Middle Country Public Library in Centereach given by Anastasia Gavalas of Bridgehampton, author of the self-published "Wing It: 6 Simple Steps to Succeed as a Modern Day Parent" ($21.95). She's a mom of five, ages 7 to 16, and she swears by the following technique, whether to get a 13-year-old to clean her bathroom or a 4-year-old to put away his toys. She recommends executing it when you're not in a rush:
In an even, neutral tone, ask your child to do her chore.
Wait. It's inevitable that she will soon ask you for something she can't do by herself -- make her a snack, take her to dance class or, for younger ones, read her a story.
Simply say, "I'll be happy to help you as soon as you finish putting away your toys." Or "Sure, we can do that as soon as you're finished cleaning the bathroom."
The key is to hold your ground. "There's no anger, there's no emotion," Gavalas says. Your child will likely respond with frustration or negotiation, but don't engage in an argument. Ignore a temper tantrum. "So what. You're home. Who cares?" she says. "You do that once or twice and she knows you're not joking. You have the control."