Friday, September 25, 2009

Seven Quick Takes Friday: Kid Clean Up

How about seven ways to get your kids to clean up?

1. If it's an overwhelming mess, help out. Make a deal where you pick up 1, 2, or 3 things for every one the kids pick up (depending on the age and number of kids). Count out loud! Invariably, after a short time, my kids start doing extra to get ahead of me and end up doing more than the deal as I bemoan my fate.

2. Have them pick up a specific number of things, and break it up with treats. We do this when we are watching educational you Tube or BrainPop videos. Everyone knows that to watch another 2 minute video they have to pick up 5 or 10 things. Looked at the other way, when you are doing something the kids like, break it up with work!

3. Break the job down for them. Make a list (if they can read) that tells them specifically what to do. For example, if they are cleaning their room: First pick up all the clothes. Then pick up the books. Next, pick up the toys. Then pick up the trash. Last, make your bed. If they can't read, stay with them and tell them, or make up a song to remind them of the order. The actual order doesn't matter, but the skill of breaking a big job into manageable bites is invaluable.

4. If you have more than one kid working, give them separate jobs. If you tell two or more kids to clean a room, invariably there will be a kid or kids who slack off, or can do less work because of age. The bad feelings and noise level do not make for a clean room! If you have the younger kid pick up the blocks (no sorting involved) and the older kid pick up trash (has to distinguish trash/non-trash), they both will work more willingly and you can tell who is actually slacking off!

5. DO NOT make clean up competitive between kids! The bad feelings ruin the "clean house' feeling. Have them compete against a timer, or against you. I've never yet had a laundry folding competition with my kids that I have won... or lost, if you think about it. Team spirit and a mountain of folded laundry was worth a certain amount of humility!

6. Bribe for big, extraordinary jobs, but not for the normal every day ones. When the whole house needs to be cleaned, I break it up into 9 big jobs. Why 9? Because all the Bionicle movies are free on You Tube in 9 ten minute sections each. Do you have any idea how many big jobs 5 people can do in 9 spurts when they are anxious to see what happens next? I can get the house done and then some, especially if I keep working while they watch. Looney Tunes and Duckula also work well here.

7. Appeal to their better natures (as dramatically as possible). When I've told a kid I really needed help, explained why, and told them what they could do to help me, I have never, ever, ever had them let me down. Always they do what I have asked, and often more! BE GRATEFUL!!! Make a big deal about the fact that they are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty. If you are going to pull the weeds, be even more enthusiastic about watering the flowers! Nurture the hero inside of your kid and you will see it more often.

More with Jen!

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