I have a nine-year-old who is developing an attitude that we are always nagging and she can't do what she wants. Every time I ask her to do a chore she says yes, I go away, come back later and it won't be done. This can happen three or four times before she gets into trouble for not doing the task and ends up in tears. How do I get her to do these necessary chores, like tidy her room or pick up her things, without it turning into a war zone?
The key to your problem is found in "this can happen three or four times before she gets into trouble." A friend of mine loves to tell a story told to him by a grandmother. She was visiting her daughter and sitting in the basement with her granddaughter when the child's mother called down "Katie, get up here and set the table." Katie looked up when mom called but went right back to playing with her dolls. Not wanting to interfere, grandma puzzled over what was happening. Again mom called, "Katie, get up here this instance and set the table!" Katie again looked up, but then went back to playing. Obviously the problem wasn't in Katie's hearing. A few minutes later, mom yelled: "Katie Lynn, you're going to be in big trouble if you don't march right up here!" Again Katie looked up but went back to playing. Unable to contain herself any longer grandma said, "Katie, don't you think you should get moving?" "Oh, no grandma," Katie replied, "I still have two more times. When she uses my full name, then I have to go." Grandma was dumbfounded, but sure enough on the second call after that mom yelled out Katie's full name, and Katie quietly got up and went upstairs.
Little Katie had her mom pegged. She knew the drill by heart ... because her mom trained her to wait.
The same thing is happening in your family. You're frustrated at your daughter, but she is only doing what you trained her to do. You taught her to delay. You've created the war zone. And the trick is to not play the game anymore.
When you tell little Susie to pick up her room and you return to find it untouched, you should deliver an immediate consequence and then tell her to pick up her room. It can be the immediate removal of the distracting item (book, toy, radio, or whatever) or you can give her a mild spanking. What you choose isn't so important as that it is perceived by the child as being an immediate negative consequence. There should be no warning or threat. There is no need to get angry or frustrated. You told your child to do something necessary and reasonable. Your daughter chose a consequence over obedience.
Depending on how stubborn your daughter is, you might have to repeat the consequence three or four times, but each and every ignoring of your request must bring about a negative consequence. It will not take long before Susie discovers that the game now has a new set of rules. Mom and dad mean what they say when they say it. Within days you will find Susie complying immediately. Nagging will disappear because you are no longer making idle threats or any threat at all.
Some children will do the minimum necessary to get by. You set the limits as to what delays are allowed. I would suggest that it be one statement only. One of these days there is going to be a fire in the house and you will want to be able to say "Susie, walk straight out the door as quickly as you can" and be confident that Susie is not going to delay but obey the very first time.
"Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).