Cleaning their rooms!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-11-2003
Cleaning their rooms!!
23
Wed, 10-26-2005 - 2:37pm
My two girls, ages 6 and 7, NEVER EVER have a clean bedroom. I've tried everything I can think of. They used to have a TV and DVD player in their room so my husband and I confiscated that. After a few weeks we saw no change so I did a Dr. Phil and removed all toys, book, and dolls from their room and they were pretty much just left with their bunk bed, dresser and shoes. Incredibly, they still managed to get the room looking like a disaster area, with clothes thrown all over the place, papers and pencils everywhere! Once a week, I'll go in there WITH them and help them clean it and it gets cleaned the right way but two days later, you'd never know I was in there!! I'm tired of yelling and fighting and arguing with them. I've taken away privlidges like no going outside, no TV. But nothing seems to work. Can anyone please give me some advice or let me know what I'm doing wrong! They also put clean clothes in the hamper instead of haning them back up in the closet where they got it or folding it and putting it back in the dresser. This is one of my biggest gripes. H-E-L-P !!!!!!!!!

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Community Leader
Registered: 12-16-2003
Wed, 10-26-2005 - 11:50pm
As to the clean laundry in the hamper, I had my kids do thier own laundry. I supervised, but they had to do it. We also have an afternoon to clean. You can start after lunch, and can eat dinner when it is done. I also expect them to clean up each evening, usually before any snacks can be had. I slo charge my kids for any chore tat I have to do, turn out a light is $ .10, making a bed 10% of the weeks allowence, etc... the only thing is the kids have to value money to make this work. Good luck.

Ramona  Mom to 2 great kids and wife to one wonderful hubby since 1990!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Thu, 10-27-2005 - 1:01pm

Label the dresser drawers with the names of what goes in them. This helped my DS be more cooperative with laundry.

Carissa
~ momma to bookworm Keithen (2/1/99), artist 

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Registered: 08-31-2004
Sun, 10-30-2005 - 1:25am

Well, I am right there with the original poster as far as frustration level goes. To tell the truth, I am tired of the whole issue. I am tired of talking about it with the kids and tired of always being the one who is grumpy because the kids haven't cleaned up their toys or were difficult about having to do it.

I talked to my husband and here is what we decided - I'll let you know if it works!

Over dinner last night, when we were all getting along and very happy with each other, I told the kids that Dad and I wanted to talk to them about something that has been bothering us for a long time. I told them that we have a problem with toy pick-up. I said that in order to get the toys cleaned up, either Dad or I has to be constantly reminding them to do their jobs and put the toys away. I told them that it made me feel stressed out and sad and very grumpy when, at the end of each day, I know I will have to get very strict with them about their toys. I said that this was especially bothersome to me because now that they are in preschool and first grade, I don't get to see them as much as I used to and that I do not want to waste the time I have with them arguing over picking up the toys. I also told them that it makes me angry when I see a room that I have worked hard to clean messed up with millions of toys that they have left around, and that I really don't like stepping on their toys because it hurts my feet and I am afraid that I will trip and fall down if I have to get up in the middle of the night for something. So, I said, Daddy and I have decided that from now on all toys (both downstairs and in their rooms) must be picked up and put away before dinnertime each night. I told them it was their choice if they wanted to pick up through out the day so they would not have a big mess to clean up at night or if they wanted to wait until right before dinner - they can decide. I asked my daughter what she thought would happen if the toys were not picked up before dinner. She said, "They will go in the garbage?" I said, "No....." and my son (the older one) said, "We won't get any dinner?" and I said, "That's right! But don't worry, if you miss dinner, we'll make sure you get a good big breakfast the next morning - you won't starve. However, do you think that you will be able to play while the rest of us eat?" And my son (who is pretty clever) said, "No - I bet we'll have to just go to bed." And I said, "You are so smart - that is exactly what will happen. But again, don't worry about it, because you will get another chance to pick up your toys the next day and I'm sure that with all that extra sleep you will be getting, you will have lots of energy to get them picked up in no time!"

The kids both laughed and agreed that this was fair. So this is what we are trying and hopefully it will work. I told the kids that I will give them one reminder when I start to make dinner, so they won't forget, but that will be it. I don't want to be nagging them anymore about this - it is making me old before my time.

Wish us luck,

Susan

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Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 10-31-2005 - 12:00pm
Wow. Everything I've ever read suggests NOT using food like this. I hope you never have to follow through on this.

Carissa
~ momma to bookworm Keithen (2/1/99), artist 

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Registered: 08-31-2004
Mon, 10-31-2005 - 12:50pm

Really? What have you read? I'm not at all trying to be argumentative - I'm geniuinely curious. Of course I don't want to do the wrong thing with my children - they are the world to me, so if I am missing the boat, I want to know.

Hmmm... Here was my thinking. I tend to be a 'real world consequences' type parent. I am not a rescuer type of parent. For example, if my son (and he is SO not this type of kid, but let's just suppose) beat up another child at school, I could handle it in one of two ways. I could either tell him that I was sorry to hear about what happened and ask him how the school was handling the problem and then back them up and let my son experience the consequences of his actions. Or I could try to save him from the school's discipline by telling them that well, he had never done anything like that before and the other little kid had a smart mouth and really did have it coming, and then come home and tell my son, 'Okay, I got you off - don't you ever lay a hand on another child again.' You see what I mean? I am the kind of parent who would back up the school and let my child experience the consequences. I would feel that it is easier and kinder for him to learn that lesson now, rather then wait until he is 19, when he would be charged with Assault for the same crime. I want him to learn his lessons now rather then later when he is older.

My thinking with the toys being picked up was this - we all have to do our work before we eat. If I don't do my work, I can't eat. My work is making sure we have clean plates to eat off of, and cooking dinner, for example. If I don't do it, I don't get to eat. If Dad doesn't do his work, he will not get paid and we will not be able to buy food and thus, cannot eat. It is just a fact of life that if you don't do your work, you don't eat.

I am not trying to be overly harsh, but I want the issue of the toys being picked up to be my kids' problem, not mine. The toys should be their responsibility. I think that is a healthy responsiblity for them to have.

Now, I should clarify that I don't stand there with a wooden spoon in my hand, watching the timer, saying "Okay.... dinner is.... SERVED! Elena, I see you have left one toy out - off to bed with you!" It's not like that. It is just that if they miss dinner because they didn't get their toys picked up, then they have missed dinner. I feel that it was their choice not mine.

I just wanted to explain my thinking a little. But like I said, maybe I am missing the boat. I am interested in what you think about it. :)

Susan

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Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 10-31-2005 - 1:31pm

IMO, losing dinner isn't a direct consequence of not taking care of your toys - it's an imposed one. Losing the toys would be a more appropriate consequence. They go in a box and you earn them back somehow. Or they get donated to kids with no toys. Or they get thrown away. NO dinner at all IS a HARSH consequence IMO. I wouldn't consider "you get to come eat your dinner cold all by yourself instead of with us AFTER you pick up" to be such an extreme choice. I'd encourage you to rethink your strategy.

Go pick up about any parenting book ever written. I'm sure you'll find "don't use food as punishment and rewards as you can create ISSUES for your kids with it." Like eating disorders, anorexia, bulemia (sp?), weight issues, etc. etc. Food becomes an emotional (and control) issue rather than a form of sustenance and an opportunity to gather in community/family when used in this way.

I know of NO experts who would agree with this approach. Just a quick web search found the following -

From this link -

http://www.wtva.com/specials/take_20_tips/take_20_7-26.htm

Never use food as part of punishment or reward.
Food should never be provided or withheld based upon a child's behavior or actions. Avoid telling a child he cannot have a snack if he doesn't clean his room. Rewards should also be avoided as a tactic to get a child to eat, especially when the reward is food. Promises like, "If you eat your dinner, we can go out for ice cream," tells a child he should eat even if he is full. Using food as a reward may lead to a dependence on food and the tendency to over eat.

From this link -

http://www.centergrove.k12.in.us/parentzone.htm

Never using food as a reward, bribe or punishment for children. This can lead to an unhealthy association with food.

From this link -

http://www.obesity.org/subs/childhood/prevention.shtml

Create a Healthy Eating Environment: Avoid using food as a reward or the lack of food as punishment.

(Interestingly, about half of the links that came up in my search had to do with training dogs.)

Carissa
~ momma to bookworm Keithen (2/1/99), artist 

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Registered: 08-20-2003
Mon, 10-31-2005 - 2:19pm

My 6 1/2 yr old has daily chores.


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Registered: 08-31-2004
Mon, 10-31-2005 - 2:25pm

You know the funny thing is that I agree with everything you just said - just not as it pertains to this particular situation. I will have to definitely do some more thinking on this.

Maybe I am splitting hairs, but I just think this is different. The fact that whether or not they eat dinner is totally their choice is, I suppose, what is the difference for me. Our attitude is "feel free to join us for dinner once your toys are picked up." It is totally within their realm of control.

I would do the same thing for brushing teeth, (and this is not my original idea - it is from a book I read), "I give sweets to kids who protect their teeth by brushing them." If my son is good about brushing his teeth and taking care of them, then I feel he can have sweets when sweets happen to be served. If my daughter has decided not to brush her teeth, then I will remember that when cookies appear at our house. "Oh, I'm so sorry. I can only give sweets to children who brush their teeth. I notice that Derek has been brushing them so I think it is okay for Derek to have a cookie. Elena? Well, I'm worried that since she hasn't been brushing her teeth as often as she should, she may get cavities from the sugar in this cookie. So we will wait until I don't have to worry about that anymore."

It is the same thing - the act they are expected to do is in the future. The children have both control over what happens AND time to think about it. In my opinion, anytime you can give a child time to think something through, that is a good thing and is ultimately the goal in how I parent. I want them thinking and deciding for themselves how their day is going to go.

I had thought very much (and even tried it once or twice) about simply taking away their toys when they weren't picked up. But I encountered two problems with this technique that made it unworkable for my particular family. First, if I have to pick up the toys when they choose not to, then toy pick up becomes my problem. I have enough problems that are rightfully my own and I don't want another one. The toys situation belongs to my children, not me. Secondly, my children, like so many American kids today have far too many toys for this to make any significant impact on them. I wish I could say that that I could just whittle down the number of toys they have so that they would really notice if some of them went missing. Unfortunately, I have large families on both sides and the kids get toys constantly! We give lots of toys to charity each year, but the deluge continues. So taking the toys simply wasn't scratching their level of awareness.

Please don't think that I completely disagree with you because I don't. I don't generally use food as a reward for things, but I do (and I guess I just disagree with you on this point) think that as I have explained the situation to my kids, missing dinner IS a logical consequence of them not doing their work.

So far, I think it is going just fine. The kids are picking up their toys and seem happy about it. I haven't even had to mention it to them again. And like I said, I was never angry with them about this or made them feel bad. I just explained it as a simple expectation that their Dad and I have.

However, I will keep your thoughts in mind and see what I think over the next couple of weeks. I am certainly open to change if something is not working.

Take care,

Susan :)

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Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 10-31-2005 - 3:10pm
I don't see the tooth brushing thing as the same thing. Sweets are a treat and a priveledge. They don't "need" sweets to be healthy. Dinner is something every child has a right to - the food they need to nourish their bodies.

Carissa
~ momma to bookworm Keithen (2/1/99), artist 

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-02-2001
Mon, 10-31-2005 - 3:37pm

I read your post with total interest.

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