Dear Readers: I recently published a question from a mom who presented an honest and evergreen problem: how to get her three teenagers to help out more at home.

I need to add to my advice to this parent — that the way to get teenagers to help at home is to bring them onto the family team when they are toddlers. Young children love to help, and when children work alongside their parents, they are learning important life skills. The reason I didn't offer this observation was because — for her and her husband — that ship had already sailed.

I received scores of responses to this letter. Some were genuinely helpful, others were funny or nostalgic and some were straight-up bananas (put all of your kids' bedroom furniture, belongings and clothing into a rented storage unit and force them to "earn" them back).

Here is a sampling of my favorite responses:

Dear Amy: I was so tired of asking my teen daughters to do the same thing over and over again, so I stopped. Instead, one day I made tuna casserole for dinner — a dish they both hate.

For four days in a row, I made tuna casserole for dinner.

I listened to them grumble about how much they hated it, while I told them that I could eat it every day for an entire month. I never mentioned the chores that weren't getting done.

On the fourth night, my older daughter realized what was happening. She and her sister took care of the chores that night, and anytime I made tuna casserole after that, they looked for things that needed to be done.

Dear Amy: I raised two lovely boys, who are now 32 and 29. We had the same issues. What really helped was time. As they experienced difficult roommates at college, they got so much better at seeing what needed to be done.

Once, the youngest was complaining that he was the only roommate who cleaned the bathroom, and I about fell off my chair laughing. If I was given a do-over, I would nag less and enjoy the time with them more.

Dear Amy: A surefire way to get their attention is to turn off the Wi-Fi and lock it up until chores are done. It's also possible to suspend a phone line instantly and temporarily — a great way to get a teen's attention.

Parenting noncompliant teens is all about leverage. Find the right lever and you can move any teen!

Dear Amy: Back in high school, one of my friends didn't do her chore before leaving with us for a party. Big mistake. When she got home late that night, the dirty dinner dishes were in her bed. No lie. Lesson learned! (Well, she learned her lesson — my mom was all bark and no bite!)

Dear Amy: As a parent of four teens, I learned to make a list of possible chores so they could select their own, and what was left would be my chores.

It worked so well that I expanded it to Easy Chores, Hard Chores and Disgusting Chores with a notation of how many they needed to choose on each list. They treated it like a competition!

This all happened on Saturday morning, and nobody got to leave the house until they did the chores. If they put their minds to it, they were done in 30 minutes!

Send Ask Amy questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.