You’ve heard me mention the Love and Logic parenting method a few times now. I absolutely love it, no pun intended. 🙂 Now I have another actionable tip for you! Teach your child to clean the Love and Logic way.
I have had problems in the past teaching my children how to clean up after themselves and often their playroom ends up looking like this!
Before Love and Logic I would ask them to pick up their toys and they wouldn’t do it. Then I would follow up with, “If you don’t pick up your toys you are going to sit in time out.” Still nothing even after time out. Then I would threaten to take all their toys away, which coincidentally I finally did and it was the most awesome thing ever! But that’s a whole nother story. 🙂
Finally, after a few classes I put on my Love and Logic thinking cap and figured out the Love and Logic way to teach your children to clean. Right away I could tell there were two main things I was doing wrong. One, I was using “If/Then” statements. If you don’t do “X” then I will punish y. That immediately brought out their stubborn nature and they were more intent on saying No than caring about the punishment. Two, I would take away their toys and they wouldn’t even care when they got them back so I stopped taking them away.
After some trial and error I have come up with some easy steps to help teach your child to clean.
First, remember that delivery is key.
No lectures, threats, or angry tones. OMG this is the hardest for me. First things first, you need to deliver your message in an empathetic tone and try not to use If/Then statements. It’s important that the “punishment” just be a consequence of their action and not appear to be a punishment. As non combative as possible.
“Hey Guys, can you please help me out by picking up your toys and putting them away?” When you get no response or they ask you to do it for them, which is inevitable, you respond. “I would love to help you pick up your toys, but you should know that when Mommy picks up your toys I put them away up high and then you can’t play with them. That would be so sad if you couldn’t play with your toys.”
They will still probably not respond or maybe only pick up a few things and then go back to playing. At this point I come back with a laundry basket. Try not to use a trash bag because they will think you are throwing away their toys. Trust me. Once again, no lectures, threats, etc. In fact don’t say a word unless they ask! Just start picking up their toys and put them in the basket and then put them up somewhere high, preferably where they can see them.
Now, it’s at this point that someone usually responds that their kids don’t care about the toys. That’s ok! Honestly, if they never get those toys back and they don’t care is that a bad thing? I don’t know about you, but my kids have too many toys and this has been a great exercise in cleaning out their playroom so they can focus on the toys they want to actually play with. If the idea of getting rid of them makes you cringe then keep them up there for a while and then call their attention to them from time to time.
BUT! They don’t just get their toys back after a sufficient amount of time passes. That’s how we were doing it before. They have to earn them back. Maybe the playroom or bedroom is messy again. They can make up their bed, do any chore that you want them to. Then they can get one, some, or all of their toys back. It’s completely up to you.
The most important thing is consistency. Keep doing this. It’s going to take quite a few times before they get the picture. Now all I have to do is walk in with a laundry basket or simply utter the words, “Oh nooooo” and there is a flurry of activity as they grab their favorite toys and start cramming them in boxes. 🙂
There is no doubt that it takes way more energy to teach your kids to pick up after themselves than it does to do it yourself, but you are teaching them an invaluable lesson that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Trust me, their spouses will thank you for it!! 🙂