More Flies with Honey


“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”, my mother used to say.

Grumble, grumble. I wanted to do it the easy way (by force)—not the right way (by persuasion)!

You can chase the animals all over the field trying to catch them, but rattle the feed bowl and they’ll come runnin’! I often think of this when trying to get a child to do a chore, to do their math, or complete some other less desirable task. How do I lace this job with honey? How do I get them to “come running”? That takes some creative thinking on mom’s part to keep homelife happy and pleasant.

Often, just the privilege of doing it with you (provided you are a fun person to be with) is enough incentive. When it is time to wash dishes, I call out, “I’ll help the first person to volunteer” and then we’ll talk and laugh together, or I’ll tell a story. We also choose the easiest dishes to wash together, since we’re first! Now that is a bit of honey to sweeten the deal.

One of my children hit the doldrums and was totally overwhelmed by a whole page of math problems. How to apply honey here? I cut the math page into fourths using scissors with a fancy edge and stacked them in a bowl along with some colored markers that are fun to write with. Every hour on the hour during our school morning, I had my student draw out a little page, select a fun marker and bang through the problems. It seemed much more doable to her this way!

Bedtime routines are a great way to use “honey”. If kids know that you are reading aloud another chapter in that wonderful book (or picture books for little ones), it is amazing the speed with which they can get their pajamas on and brush their teeth! Especially if they know the clock-time that you will start reading.

Something in us—pride?—makes us want our kids to obey us just out of sheer respect for us as parents. That may have its place, but if you want a happy home life, get out the honey. It works wonders!


May I recommend:

Big Bear Hugs

Magic Words

My “Anti-Busting” Campaign

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