Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How to Get Your Kids to Clean Up

As a childcare provider I often get questions from parents about how to get the kiddos to do something.  More likely than not the task they want the kids to do is clean up.

For the most part, I have no problem with that...sure when new kids come there is always an adjustment period but for the most part, it's not something I struggle with.  Much of it is in part due to a book I read a LONG time ago How to Get Your Kids to Clean Their Rooms and Other Impossible Tasks by Henry Isaaksen.

The book is excellent.  I even heard the author speak and I was sold.  The funny thing is, I didn't even have kids at the time I bought the book.  I was pregnant though.  I was working at a school as a para educator and was sent to a conference.  By some luck of the draw, I ended up in a break out session with the author.  I was so sold on it, even though we were broke, I bought the book.

I used it as a first time parent and it has so much information that I took in.  I ended up applying it the from the moment my little one was ready for it.  The ground rules in the book have stuck with me throughout parenting my own children and into my childcare profession.

A couple points in the book that always stick out for me are these four-
1.  Tough Love
2.  Consistency
3.  Following Through
4.  Natural Consequences

I had a kiddo in my care that wanted to dump out all the toys.  As one tote got dumped out, I reminded, "If you dump this out, you'll have to clean it up".  The exploring and dumping continued.  I let it...yet I continued to remind.  We would be learning an important lesson soon,

As lunch time approached I said, "I am making lunch".  The toys on the table must be picked up before I serve lunch.  I commented about how hungry I was.  I commented that my table was cleaned off so I would get to eat.  I commented that the childcare table wasn't clean so I guess the child couldn't eat yet.  I never told the child that she couldn't eat.  I just made it clear that there are natural consequences.  If the table is not prepared, we can't eat.  The child figured the solution was to just shove everything to the floor....I didn't give in.  I didn't pick up the toys for the child.

At one point the child said well you played with this doll and this dress.  I did, so I went to the table and picked that up and put it in the case, saying, "Wow...that was easy.  Now I could eat."

I put my food on the table and began eating.  The child didn't like that.  I simply said, as soon as you pick up the toys and put them in the case the right way you can eat.  In a flash the toys were put away and I put the food on the table and the struggle was over.

One of the keys is not to be secretly mad-don't bride.  Present natural consequences.   Let the children choose the action and in turn choose the consequence.  As they see things not going the way they want, they learn to respond correctly on their own.

One tip I really want to give though is this...Make sure you understand that the struggle will likely happen and you allow enough time for to play out.

As our day went on and nap time approach I knew we'd be back to learning lessons with toys needing to be cleaned up and little ones not wanting to.  I simply said when the toys get picked up, we'll watch a movie.  Nothing happened-I took an infant and "helped" her pick up the toys she played with setting an example.  Nothing happened.  Then I started talking about the movie I wanted to watch.  I said how good of a movie it was.  I said I really wanted to watch it and didn't they too.  They said yes.  I reminded that the toys had to be picked up first.

This took lots of time and lots of patience.  When nothing happened I finally said, "Okay...I see that you don't want to pick up your toys.  That was fine.  I was going to watch the movie.  They got all excited until I said I was sorry that they couldn't.  I said we'd make a bed in the other room for them and they could nap instead.  I got a blanket and started making the bed in the other room.  Things happened fast then.  The toys were picked up.

Had the toys not been picked up, what would I have done??  I would have watched the movie in the by myself and had the child nap in the other room.  I would have followed through.

1.  Tough Love
2.  Consistency
3.  Following Through
4.  Natural Consequences

At first this method takes for forever.  As time passes and you stay consistent, kids know you will follow through so it's easier for them to just listen and do the task right away.

I highly recommend the book.  I'll admit, at times I lapse and when I do, I just read the book again. As my own children got older it got to a point that all I had to do was put the book on the kitchen table.  They knew once they saw it that the tough love, consistent, follow through mom who let natural consequences come there way was back!

You can be guaranteed all of my kids will get a copy of this book when the kids.  I highly recommend the book How to Get Your Kids to Clean Their Rooms and Other Impossible Tasks.

1 comment:

  1. That is exactly how I raised my kids as well. When I first left my husband when my daughters were just 3 and 10 months old, I was terrified to raise them by myself. I took a "STEP" Systematic Training for Effective Parenting class on the recommendation of some friends and it was the best thing I ever did! The lessons I took from it were similar to yours:

    1. Consistency - if you say no, you better mean it because there is no going back!
    2. Natural and logical consequences - especially helpful in the teen years (Mom, can I go to the movies with my friends. Yes, as soon as you have completed your chores. Chores not done = no movie)
    3. Follow Through - if you're going to threaten (or promise), you must follow through (if you continue to misbehave in the store, we are leaving and you will be having a nap - and then actually leave!)