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Old 06-18-2007, 02:14 AM   #7
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Default Re: Collected Past Posts about Cleaning Up

Title: How do I make "help" just that - help without a punitive feeling attached?
Post by: Love_Monkey on August 14, 2005, 10:37:03 PM

Dh is struggling with this even more than I am. I see him trying but it is so hard sometimes.

My four-year old ds does not enjoy helping himself for the most part. I think the difficult part with "helping" him is that he is 98% of the time happy to sit back and watch us do it.

Here's an example:

Me: Marc, it's time to clean your room. We have a friend coming to play and your room needs to be clean when they arrive. Do you want to clean your cars or your books?
Me: Marc, this room is too messy to enjoy. We need to clean it. Do you want to clean the cars or the books?
Marc: Nothing. I don't want to.
Me: Okay, I'm going to help you.

At this point I'll try many ways to make it playful. I'll race him. I'll ask him to find all the blue cars. I'll sing loudly. Usually though he will dig his feet in a flat out refuse to do anything. At this point I get angry.

So, after I've given all the choices, offered to help, been playful and still I have a child who is unwilling to comply - what is my next step?

Here's another example:

He likes to jump on our bed and frequently will hurt his sister or our lamp when he does it so we've recently made a new rule that he is no longer allowed to do it. He can jump on his bed, but not ours. We explained all this to him. So he'll run in (on a daily basis) and jump on the bed.

Me: Marc, the rule is no jumping on mommy and daddy's bed. If you want to jump go to your room.
Marc: (Ignores me and continues jumping)
Me: Marc, you may not jump on my bed. Do you need help getting off the bed?"
Marc: (sensing great fun starts giggling)
Me: I see you're having trouble so I'm going to help you off the bed.

Now I have to catch him. It's a king-sized bed and he's fast. It's actually not that easy and he finds this HIGHLY amusing - which is why I think he does it every day. This is when I start to get angry again. When I manage to get him off the bed he'll usually just jump right back on. It usually ends up with me getting pretty mad at him. (As an aside, this rule is more important to dh. Frankly, I wish he didn't care because it's not a battle I'd normally choose but I need to respect dh.)

I don't know how to convey that I'm not joking without resorting to my "angry voice".

BTW, the bear hug is TORTURE for him so we skip that step.

Title: Re: How do I make "help" just that - help without a punitive feeling attached?
Post by: milkmommy on August 14, 2005, 11:07:33 PM

I don't know how to convey that I'm not joking without resorting to my "angry voice".
Well what id your angry voice? Is it yelling blank threats showing just how out of controll you can get?? (we've all been there ) or is it a slightly raised but in fulll controlled clearly saying this behavior is inappropiate and it needs to stop now? If its the second and you do want to "strictly" enforce the rule I'd use it.
addressing your example)
As for the other at four I think hes ready for some "natural" conquence.. I'd consider just closing the door and leting him know if hes not going to help clean hes choosing not to be able to play in his room with his friends. He might not like the idea of being seperated from his toys. I refuse to just clean for my DD, I'll help I'll help a lot at times a litttle at others but I will simpily not do it all my self. Id also consider making his enviroment easier for him to handle. If hes having trouble cleaning big messes maybe consider limiting his availiblity to them. toys in containers with lids that you help controll might help him organize his play better.

Title: Re: How do I make "help" just that - help without a punitive feeling attached?
Post by: Love_Monkey on August 14, 2005, 11:20:31 PM

We've recently moved and I've gotten rid of a lot of toys and have organized the rest VERY VERY well. I'm so happy with how child-friendly and easy it is for him to pick up now. Everything has a place and it's an extremely simple environment for him to help clean.

I actually like your suggestion about not allowing him access to his room if he will not work on getting it clean. I could put the child-proof knob on the outside and close his door. I could try that and see if it works anyway.

More ideas are good too because I think I'll need several tools for this one!

As for the second example, I'm actually getting much better at my controlled, "I am getting angry and this needs to stop now!" statements rather than my flying off the handle, "Get your butt of the bed now!!" rants. I just wish it didn't have to resort to me getting angry at all and that he would simply comply.

That would be too easy though.

Title: Re: How do I make "help" just that - help without a punitive feeling attached?
Post by: milkmommy on August 14, 2005, 11:30:03 PM

I just wish it didn't have to resort to me getting angry at all and that he would simply comply.
ITTU Its nice to think us saying Honey please don't will always work and its nice when it does. However I also feel that that really only works when our child already has a grasp of it being "right or wrong" Like I can say sweetie please don't touch the stove (even when not on) because she already understands to at least some degree what natural conquence thouching a stove could cause. However if its something new that were working on then she relies on me to engage whats appropiate and whats not. Threating isn't going to help any but letting my tone know whats appropiate I think does help her process whats appropiate and whats not.

Title: Re: How do I make "help" just that - help without a punitive feeling attached?
Post by: Mother of Sons on August 14, 2005, 11:48:07 PM

With the jumping on the bed, I don't think you need to use all the steps. Just say "You may not jump on mommy's bed" and while you are saying that, take him off the bed.

Title: Re: How do I make "help" just that - help without a punitive feeling attached?
Post by: palil on August 15, 2005, 05:07:51 AM

Sometimes it helps my son to just be matter-of-factly informed that his bike/toys, etc. are his responsibility. I don't say it with "raised-eyebrow.. three-snaps-in-a-Z-formation" tone of voice. I just say very pleasantly when he refuses to do something or says "No, YOU do it!"

"C, your trains are *your* responsibility" or "You took them out, and you need to put them up.." He had to learn what this meant, of course, and that involved some walking him through how to address "his" responsibility--like physically taking him to his bike, putting his hands on the handlebars, and guiding him back to the garage... letting him do most of the actions, but standing right there beside him keeping him on task. (With toys, it might be handing him the basket and persistently handing him the items and directing him to put them in the basket) It also involved refusing to do it myself sometimes.

"Your bike is in the road. You need to go and get it so no one will take it."
"NO, You do it."
"Your bike is your responsibility. You need to get it before we go in for our snack. At this point I would physically guide him to the bike at first.. After a while I didn't have to do that... just waited for him to do it b/c he knew at that point that even if I walked him over there, he was going to do the work. There have also been times when I just left it out and he couldn't find it the next time he wanted to ride, or had to walk down to the bottom of the hill and pull it back up.

I have also--a time or two, and after giving him more than suficient chance/help cleaning up--simply informed him that in 5 min. Mommy will start picking up toys and whatever I picked up would be put away for awhile. This was with toys and such spread out in the dining room/living area. NOTE: I would NOT recommend this as a starting point, but only after you've run the gamut of teaching/helping/playing and setting kids up for success (organization, etc.) which it sounds like you have. TBH, even when I used this, part of the problem was that he STILL had too many toys and I was allowing him to have multiple things out at at time, which he just doesn't handle very well.... so it turns out there was still something else I could have done to help him succeed before using a consequence. Once I streamlined even more, and started really staying on top of teaching him that we "put one thing away before you start another", I have not had ONE single problem getting him to pick up!

Which leads me to another idea, and this is the one that probably works the best and most consistently for us (aside from one particular "clean up" song which he loves ) Make cleaning up a necessary transition or precursor to another activity. "We'll eat lunch (or vacuum, or go outside, or play the computer game) after you clean up your toys. I will pick up the blocks; you need to put those cars in that basket [handing him basket]" Then start cleaning up... If he refuses, I would leave the blocks, and--as calmly and pleasantly as possibly, simply pick up a car, place it in his hand, and hold the basket in front of him as a prompt. "Here! Pick up your cars so we can go ________." If he still refuses, I might simply put the day (or his other activities, at least) on hold to some degree until he's ready to accept your help and make the transition.

Again, some of this really leans toward consequating, and even though I'm offering them , I still prefer proactive/playful methods and figuring out what makes things "click" for your child to procure their cooperation. But, if you've tried all that and are still hitting a wall, I consider these to be non-punitive alternatives.

With the bed jumping.. is there a place/bed he IS allowed to jump? So you could redirect him there.. even run in with him and participate for a minute or two? I stopped chasing mine across the bed if at all possible and just decided I had something to do in another room.. walked out, turned the light off, closed the door... When he stopped getting attention and I wouldn't engage in a game of chase and wrestle, it ceased to be an issue.

Title: Re: How do I make "help" just that - help without a punitive feeling attached?
Post by: ArmsOfLove on August 15, 2005, 07:12:33 PM

I'm thinking of two things off the top of my head First, it sounds like he may have difficulty transitioning. He might feel like being told what to do is an imposition on what he's doing right now and it can be hard to break out of what he's doing. Have you tried giving him even a 2 minute warning--something to help him change his focus? Second, when it's something you want done now it's time to say it and make it happen "You need to stop jumping on the bed." Then pick him up and move him

I think your frustration is because you're not helping quick enough. It's easier to help before you're so frustrated that you want to vent.

So with the room cleaning, I would give a warning and then go into the room and just start cleaning and giving him stuff to do. "Here, put this in that box." I don't expect my 4yo's to clean a room without help. I do, however, expect them to work with me while I teach them how to do it

Title: Re: How do I make "help" just that - help without a punitive feeling attached?
Post by: Love_Monkey on August 15, 2005, 10:10:20 PM

I've been reading "Adventures of Gentle Discipline" by Hilary Flowers (excellent btw!) and tonight dh and I explored our rules together. What we realized is that the things we're struggling with are not "Always Rules" but things we'd like to work on but don't enforce at all times. Things such as room cleaning are on our "Sometimes" list or our "Preference" list. Actually working on this list will really help us because if something is a preference then I can let it go when it's not working out that day but if something is a rule then like some of you alluded to - the Five Steps are not appropriate. I just need to make it happen.

For instance, with room cleaning we haven't decided to make this a rule yet. We will soon I'm sure but we're not going to put that on the Always A Rule list yet (that list is VERY short and we're going to go over it with Marc tomorrow). So with that I will work on motivating him to help and being playful but if I know he's had a long day and it will be a struggle I'll just do it myself without worrying that I'm being inconsistent and letting him "get away" with something. Also, totally letting go of the struggle will undoubtedly mean he will be more willing to comply.

Here's a question though about this: If it's not a rule that he cleans his bedroom should I not state it in terms of the Five Steps? IOW, should I not say to him "Marc, it is time to clean your room" if ultimately I'll be okay doing it myself? If it is truly optional but I really do want him to do it what is the best way to state it? I'm thinking, "Marc, this room is messy! How about we clean it together?" If he says "No" I can make it playful and if he still refuses I can then just go ahead and do it while saying, "Okay, next time you can help." I fear doing this because I think that he'll be happy to refuse everytime but maybe like I said, when I let go of the struggle he really will be more willing. It's my hope of course but my punitive background is haunting me here.

Then as a follow-up question (which is really the important one), when (not if ) I screw up and state a "request" as an "order" and I want to back out of it and make it okay for him to not comply - how do I tell him that I've changed my mind? Let's say it goes like this:

Me: Marc, time to clean your room!
Marc: Why?
Me: Because it's a big mess.
Marc: I don't want to!
Me: C'mon buddy! I'll race ya!
Marc: (Whining) No Mommy it's too hard! You do it!

At this point if I know I don't have a lot of patience and I just want it DONE and he's in a whiney mood anyway I really don't want to pick this battle. Should I consequate like Palil suggested or is there a way I can back-up and have a do-over because it's really not that important to me? I feel like saying, "You know what Marc, I've changed my mind, you don't have to help," is dangerously close to being permissive. If someone has another way I can state that it's not that important to me or explain why this isn't permissive I'd like to hear it.

We clarified our bedroom policy to say that the kids are not allowed in our room when we are not in there. In that case if he is in there without me I'll just remove him and state the rule. For Always Rules we will enforce immediately.

Title: Re: How do I make "help" just that - help without a punitive feeling attached?
Post by: milkmommy on August 15, 2005, 10:54:06 PM

Marc: (Whining) No Mommy it's too hard! You do it!
IMHO this just isn't an acceptable request.. (he can try I just wouldn't give in ) One thing I would work on is transitions and giving him choices where both of you can "win".
Marc your room needs to be clean we can clean it now or after dinner let him decide then have him follow through. Another approach that came up a waile back on these boards and I'll always remember.. The cake or Death approach..
Cake or death?
Uhh, cake please.
Very well! Give him cake!
Oh, thanks very much. It’s very nice.
You! Cake or death?
Uh, cake for me, too, please.
Very well! Give him cake, too! We’re gonna run out of cake at this rate. You! Cake or death?
Uh, death, please. No, cake! Cake! Cake, sorry. Sorry…
You said death first, ah ha, ah ha, death first!
Well, I meant cake!
Oh, all right. You’re lucky I’m Church of England!
The idea is sometimes choices don't have to be exactly what DC is looking for. Sometimes reality is reality.. So
Marc its time to clean your room I'll help we can do it now or we can do it tonight instead of watching a video?

If he says "No" I can make it playful and if he still refuses I can then just go ahead and do it while saying, "Okay, next time you can help."
Personally no I wouldn't IF hes the type that does ussually help then okay we all have our moments but it sounds like he'll just be content letting you do it. What I would do is set aside a few days when your willing to keep patience and really work on getting him to help. IF he flat out refuses I'd leave the room messy. or if I did clean honestly I'd consider letting him only have one toy at a time requiring it to be put away to get another, explaining that hes having trouble managing a big room and frankly if YOUR going to have to clean you don't want a big mess to clean up.
But then again I'm a big meannie

Title: Re: How do I make "help" just that - help without a punitive feeling attached?
Post by: Love_Monkey on August 15, 2005, 11:20:42 PM
You're funny Deanna!

I like your ideas. You've hit the nail on the head with him being totally content to just let me do it.

TBH, he'd be fine if I took all his toys away. In a fit of frustration once I did just that and he couldn't have cared less. It was then that I decided to get rid of a LOT of them permanently. His room isn't hard to keep up with anymore because like I said before it is scaled down and organized so it shouldn't be hard for him. It's like an old habit though for him to initially refuse and then dig his heals in.

I like the Cake or Death analogy. For us it would work great the "Help now or later instead of a video." I'll use that one for sure!
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