Need Tips to teach youg kids to clean up...

Nancy AdamopoulosJuly 18, 2009

I usually hang out in other forums, but I just came across this forum and all it's wonderful advice...

I have a 4 1/2 yo and 2 year old... We have a room off the kitchen which is the "playroom". I have cubbies with more than enough space for all their toys. The problem is, I can't get the 4 year old to clean up her toys. I've tried reward charts, bribery, collecting things in a trash bags and "throwing them away" if they weren't picked up. Sometimes she will clean only if I "help" her, but I end up doing most of it my self because she works at a snails pace(literally takes her over an hour to pick up 15 small board books off the floor and put them into their designated bins. To top it all off the just-turned 2 year-old makes a mess as well, but she is too little to understand cleaning up (i've tried). The 4 year old says that she shouldn't have to pick up the 2 year olds mess.

Help me before my kids turn into mini-slobs!

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jannie

Give her very exact, limited instructions. Like Pick up all the Barbie stuff first, then do the stuffed toys. Or attach a reward for cleaning up. If you clean up, we'll go get ice cream cones after dinner. OR bag it all up yourself, hide it and then tell her "the squirrels" took it, if she cleans up next time the squirrels will see and bring back her things. Just a few things that hekped with my kids.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 5:00PM
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jannie

It could be the kids just have too masny toys. Tell them, "We're going to give some toys to the poor kids." Then tell your daughter to pick thru all the toys and find some to give to the poor kids. Bag them up and drive to a Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc. and donate them. Let her come with you to see where they went. Less toys = less mess. I used to do this at least twice a year, before bithday and Christmas.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 7:03AM
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socks

Your 4-year old probably feels like she has to do all the work since the 2-year-old isn't much help. Honestly, I think you have to work with the kids rather than just tell them to clean it up. They are very young. Yes, it's slow and takes patience when you can do in 2 seconds what takes them several minutes. I agree with Jannie about the exact instructions. Just to tell a 4-year-old to "pick up" is a little overwhelming.

Also, if toys "disappear" they need to disappear permanently. I'm not much into gimicky stuff like that and charts. They just take too much effort unless a child is really motivated that way.

Why not set a timer and challenge them to get it all picked up in, say, 10 minutes. It's a race, a challenge! Then you can time other things, and your 4-year-old can learn to use the timer which she would probably love. Then we can go...play, eat, whatever is next.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 2:54PM
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Nancy Adamopoulos

thanks for the tip so far!

Actually, I never tell her to just pick-up or clean-up. I always give her specific tasks to do , like "please pick up these 6 books and put them in this bin..." The things I have "thrown away" are still in plastic bags in the back of my closet(DD thinks they're gone). I've resorted to charts and rewards out of desperation. I've also taken away things like TV time, computer time until the task is done, but she doesn't seem to care.

Her last quote about cleaning up was "mommy, cleaning is boring... i don't like it"

I like the timer idea, that's one thing I haven't tried... maybe a way to make it less "boring"

I also have to find ways to get her to do simple tasks like put her dirty clothes in the hamper in her room instead of leaving them on the floor.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 3:55PM
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lazy_gardens

Abdicate. Stop trying. Tell her that you will give her advice when asked, and shut the door on the room. Eventually (fairly soon, probably) she'll get fed up with not being able to find things and ask you for help.

Same with the clothes - Make sure she can reach the storage areas, tell her that only the clothes that are in the hamper will get washed, and step back. If you have to wade through dirty clothes, ignore them. When she asks where her favorite shirt is, tell her, "I washed everything that was in your hamper." (just that statement of fact)

Ignore any tantrums that may result, and stick to letting her stew in her own messes until she wants help.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 10:08PM
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discotrish

Lazy, I don't see any value in trying to treat the 4- and 2-year-old like teenagers. If not cleaning her clothes makes any impression at all, it will be either that mommy doesn't care about her, OR mommy is malfunctioning. You can't just let the clothing pile up and expect a 4-year-old to "get it." (heck, most of the time it doesn't work with husbands, either!)

They never "tire" of the messes. They need to be gradually taught good habits. I think the OP is on the right track, but maybe cleaning a whole room is too much to expect at this point. How about "let's all clean the room together" or something a little easier to start.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 6:25AM
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Nancy Adamopoulos

Unfortunately, the room can't be closed off to the rest of the house(open floorplan)... I've tried leaving the mess and not helping her find things, but she doesn't mind the mess.

I did try the timer this weekend at my MIL house(just a few toys) and it seemed to motivate her. We're back home today and we'll see tonight how the timer works.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 8:48AM
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jannie

When I was a kid, there were four of us. Mom assigned one kid per room, to pick up and put away things that didn't belong, dust and vacuum. Then it was a contest. Whover did the most the fastest was the "winner". And we all liked running the vacuum. It was big and noisy! Try to set up a friendly family competition. Even if it's just "I'll clean the kitchen while you put away the books. Race you!"

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 4:18PM
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Nancy Adamopoulos

Update! Timer is working! 4 days in a row. DD is even asking for the timer to pick up her toys! Hopfully the enthusiasm will last...

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 1:44PM
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