I know we don’t talk much.

I know I’m a bad blogger who doesn’t do enough commenting elsewhere, but I need some crowd sourcing help.

M, it appears, will NOT clean her room.  She says she is cleaning, but she plays.  She is actively lying to our face about what she is doing.  She tries to stall, asking for something specific to clean up first, then still goes and plays.  She says something specific is put away when asked about it directly, when it is not.

We don’t have much time at home during the week where there isn’t something to be done.  Getting ready to go for the day, eating dinner (don’t get me started about how long it takes her to eat), getting ready for bed.  I know she wishes we had more time to play during the week, hell, we all do.  However, keeping her room clean is her only chore, and she isn’t doing it.  At nearly five, picking up her toys is something I know she can do, but lately it seems she just… can’t.

We’re thinking about seriously culling her toys.  My MIL gives toys like they’re candy, for every holiday (the woman damn near gives out gifts for flag day), and we aren’t much better, but something has to give.

Any ideas?

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  1. Posted February 8, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    This is a great question! I hope you get some good responses. I will have to find my copy of Positive Discipline to see what it says since I definitely struggle with this with my 4yrold. This blog post might help: http://blog.positivediscipline.com/2011/02/messy-rooms.html

    Good luck! :)
    Mindy recently posted..Art & Artpolice in an afternoon

  2. Posted February 8, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    You could try setting up an incentive and then giving her a time limit to get it done in (and make sure you use some kind of visual timer, like an egg timer or the kitchen timer where you crank the dial. If you think she’d try to reset the timer, well, you’d have to get creative then! It’s important that she have a visual representation of the time passing so she can see how much time is left). It could be a special treat after dinner, or some movie time with you guys, or even just cuddly book reading time, but if she wants to do that, she has to clean her room first (so make sure it is something that she DOES really want to do!)

    Before she has to do any actual room cleaning, sit down with her and write some “Room Cleaning Rules” so it’s really clear what will and won’t be accepted. Let her be really involved (pick out different colored markers for each rule, have her draw/instruct you to draw pictures for each rule) and write the rules as though she is saying them (so that when she references the pictures and reviews the rules, she’s saying “I ____”). The rules could involve how long she has to clean up her room, where different items go (“I will put all my dolls in the pink toy box”. “I will put all of my books neatly in the bookshelf”, stuff like that), how often she can ask for help (“I need to do my chores all by myself, like a big girl. If I need help putting something up high, I can put it by the door until I am ALL DONE. When I am ALL DONE with everything else, Mommy or Daddy will help me put it up high) and any consequences that will happen if she doesn’t follow the rules (“If the timer goes off and I haven’t finished cleaning, I don’t get _____”, “If I leave the room three times, then I don’t get ___”, “If Mommy has to remind me to keep cleaning three times, then I don’t get ___”). Just make sure you end with something super positive and exciting though (“When I clean my room all by myself like a big girl, Mommy and Daddy will be SO PROUD OF ME, and we will all get to do ____ together!!!”) If you write the rules really generically (saying “special treat” instead of a specific incentive) and put the rules into a plastic sheet protector, you can use a dry erase marker to draw/write what the treat du jour is at the bottom of the page! That way, if it’s not motivating enough, next time you can use a wet napkin to erase the treat and set up a new one without having to draw a whole new rule set!)

    Hope that helps! ;)
    Carolyn recently posted..Babies Are Great, But Caring For Them Sometimes SUCKS!

  3. yasmara
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Definitely cull the toys. I think everyone gets overwhelmed when there’s a lot of anything facing them (such as the papers on my desk right now, ugh).

    Also, I think it may not be “lying” so much as it is “wanting to avoid getting into trouble” or “not knowing where to start.” That may be a fine distinction, but it seems applicable.

    I think asking for 1 task is actually really perceptive. “Clean up” can often be too general for toddlers/preschoolers. Make sure each toy/toy category (in our house it’s things like “cars,” “dinosaurs,” “legos”) have a designated spot that’s easy for her to put them away in and that she’ll remember. We say things like “Put the cars in the car basket…1 2 3 GO!” a LOT. It’s 1 task (cars) with 1 solution (basket). No choices involved.

    My kids also like racing the timer, but that could definitely vary by the kid’s personality. It’s amazing how much they can put away in one minute when they are racing, but some kids might respond better to things like counting (put 5 cars in the basket) or singing the clean-up song (I’m guessing her daycare has a clean-up song!).

    You could also ask her daycare teachers – do they emphasize having the kids clean up after themselves? How does she do at school? Maybe they have some top-secret tricks that would work at home. We often try to carry0ver school rules at home (if they are ones we agree with).

    This is getting long, but I have one more thing! Is this behavior happening all the time or have you noticed any trends? I am trying to apply the HALT method (Hungry/Angry/Lonely/Tired) to parenting. I’m not in recovery, but when I first read about it, it immediately resonated with me, probably because I have blood sugar issues & tend to get very, very crabby when hungry. And guess what? So do my kids!!! So I know if any of the HALT items apply, we might have a tough time with whatever task they are supposed to be doing. For my older son (hungry), that means a snack before homework. For the younger (lonely), it may mean I do something in his room (put away laundry) while he cleans up. I don’t DO the cleaning up for him, but I keep him company & we work together.

    Good luck!

  4. Elizabeth from Indy
    Posted February 10, 2012 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Two things work in our house. First, the race the timer like PP mentioned. When we was younger, I’d set it for a few minutes (I usually let him decide) and see how much he’d get done. I discovered this after an HOUR of arguing with him about cleaning his room. Break out a timer and all was solved. Now that he’s 5, he sets the timer (longer now…10 to 20 minutes) and cleans. When it goes off, he gets 10 minutes of play time. Then back to another round of cleaning.

    Second, I got tired of the back and forth arguing about picking up his things. So, when I ask him to clean up his toys and he says NO, I tell him, “That’s ok. You don’t have to. I’ll pick them up for you.” The first time I said this he gave me a strange look. Then I said, “Yes, and I’ll put them somewhere where only I can play with them. If I’m the one taking care of them, then I’m the one that gets to play with them.” One time he did test me on that. He said, “OK…you can do it.” And I put the toys on the top shelf of my closet. He had to earn them back. Now when I say, “Oh, sweetie, you don’t have to pick them up,” he gives me that knowing look and gets right to it.

    Good luck!

    • Posted February 12, 2012 at 1:15 am | Permalink

      Oh my gosh, that is BRILLIANT! I worked with kids with autism for years and used LOTS of different behavioral strategies, but that one is going in my arsenal for when my LO is bigger!
      Carolyn recently posted..Today I Met Nathan (And He Was Drooly)

      • Elizabeth
        Posted February 12, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

        Wow! Thank you!

  5. Posted February 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I am a firm believer that fewer toys = more playing. Also, if you do that, you can store some toys and rotate them occasionally providing “new” toys occasionally without buying anything.

    I also have a 4 almost 5 year old who seems like he has lost the ability to do things he used to do with no issues. We’ve found that we have to be *very* specific and provide more assistance than we thought we would need to. So, instead of telling her “clean your room” give her 3 tasks “pick up your books” “put your clothes in the dirty laundry” and “make your bed.”
    Casey recently posted..I’m Reading, and I Love It!

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