SPAIN — Ever feel like you need to handcuff your kids to the dishwasher to get them to finish cleaning up after dinner? The Spanish government is looking to send in some serious (and unconventional) backup for parents in the country.
Instead of just getting grounded for ignoring household chores, kids in Spain may soon be facing trouble with the law. Yes, you read that right.
The Spanish Parliament has already passed a draft law — “The Rights and Duties of Children” — that requires kids under the age of 18 to be actively involved in household duties and to “participate in family life” without complaint, according to Spain’s ABC newspaper.
The law states that kids would have a “co-responsibility for caring for the home,” and would be required to “perform household tasks regardless of gender,” according to Today Moms. Responsibilities would vary depending on age, but all children would have specific jobs to do. Kids who don’t do their jobs are essentially breaking the law.
In other words: every parent’s dream.
But it’s not just about chores. Children would be legally obligated to treat their parents, siblings and other family members with respect. That means sibling bickering is strictly banned, impoliteness illegal and backtalk outlawed.
Legislators feel that same respect should extend to the classroom as well. The law requires kids to heed teachers, adhere to school rules and “maintain a positive attitude about learning.”
But parents, before you pack your bags and head to Spain, consider the catch. In its current form, the draft doesn’t specify punishment for kids who dare to ignore the dishes — meaning you can’t send your kid to the slammer for a night, no matter how much you may be tempted.
It’s likely mom and dad will still be the ones to determine and enforce punishment, not the police department. But legislators say it’s an important shift toward giving children responsibility, according to UK’s Daily Mail.
Parents need not always threaten legal action to motivate kids to help out around the house. A new study out this week revealed the magic motivating word for the younger set when it comes to cleaning up toys: helper.
The study, published Wednesday in the journal Child Development, was conducted by teams from several U.S. universities and focused on 150 kids between the ages of 3 and 6.
The findings can be explained by simply changing a verb into a noun — children were more likely to clean up when asked to be a helper, rather than just to help.
“When you use the noun ‘helper’ — a description that points to a child’s basic character and identity — they’re more motivated to prove that it’s true,” lead study author Christopher J. Bryan told Yahoo Shine. “Helping is something kids know they ‘should’ do, so it makes them feel good about living up to an ideal.”
Bryan weighed in on the controversial Spanish proposal, arguing that forcing kids to do something can undermine them and make them less motivated.
"If kids believe they'll be punished if they don't help, they may do so,” Bryan told Shine. “But their hearts won't be in it."
The Spanish guidelines are part of a larger piece of legislation called the “Child Protection Bill.” Key elements include the establishment of a published list of known pedophiles, the prosecution of unreported cases of child abuse and requiring applicants seeking jobs involving children to provide copies of any criminal records. It’s unclear whether the bill will pass.