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Old 05-19-2013, 09:14 AM   #1
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Red face How to teach kids to clean up after themselves?

I need some help. My kids have no discipline in cleaning up after themselves. They are 6 and 4. I try to remember to get them to clean up but they get distracted or clean up halfway and think its done. I have 9 week old twins so I am not really able to monitor and enforce cleaning like I'd want to. How can I get them to be more responsible and clean up after themselves? My husband keeps getting angry at them and throwing away their things because he asks them multiple times to clean up and they don't, but that isn't working either.... I am at a loss and don't know how to make this better...

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Old 05-19-2013, 09:16 AM   #2
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Re: How to teach kids to clean up after themselves?

When you figure this out, let me know. And my kids are a lot older than yours. I'm like your DH, if I have to pick up things repeatedly, I'm subject to get rid of them. LOL
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Old 05-19-2013, 09:37 AM   #3
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You've gotta find what they love! For ds it's tv. He's more than happy to clean up the entire playroom or his room if you bribe him with a show. We're a limited tv family though. So it's a treat for him.

The conversation goes something like "a tv show sounds great! You can have one as soon as the playroom is clean! Let me know whenever you're ready!" We have don this long enough that were now at the point where he asks. "If I clean up the playroom all by myself can I earn a show?"

We tried throwing stuff away, threatening, grounding him until it was finished and none of it worked, so we started bribing him, and it works great.

Also, have you taught them HOW to clean? A mess can often be overwhelming to a kid. We originally started with me saying, "can you collect all the Lego's" tell me when your done! "Great, now lets get the balls in the ball pit." Try giving them one task at a time, so they have a mini goal and know where to start. It's easy enough to talk them through it without helping. Also turn in some music! Or just keep them company even if your feeding a baby you can Likely sit on their bed at the same time. It's obnoxious but even as an adult I clean better while I'm on the phone with a friend or listening to some nice relaxing music.

You could also try, collecting it Into a basket so they can grab one thing at a time, give them a time frame, and a decent one. You are expected to have your room picked up by the end of the week! That gives you plenty of time! For every item I have To pick up on that day i will be charging you a minuet of time for one of my chores (scrubbing floors, washing windows etc!)

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Old 05-19-2013, 09:37 AM   #4
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"Clean up" is abstract and vague. Try specific commands: put the blocks back in the bucket, put the puzzle in the box, etc. Many preschools and kindergartens also label bins and shelves with pictures of what goes there, makes it much more concrete for the kids.
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Old 05-19-2013, 09:45 AM   #5
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Re: How to teach kids to clean up after themselves?

I think my mother would love to know too.
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:00 AM   #6
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We really try to keep the 1 toy out at a time rule that way it doesn't get overwhelming. Also I organized the playroom into "stations". One for house stuff, kitchen, play door, grill. One for reading and puzzles with a bean bag chair. One for building, one for art etc. when you are done with a station you have to clean it up.
My oldest loves to wipe the counters and vacuum and they put their dishes in the sink after each meal and throw their trash away.
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Old 05-19-2013, 11:19 AM   #7
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Re: How to teach kids to clean up after themselves?

One day I threatened to throw everything away when my youngest dd wouldn't clean up. She turned around and said sure, no problem because if you are going to throw everything away, you'll have to pick it up yourself to throw it out instead of me. Good point!

With my 3 year old, I have a rule that he has to pick up 1 thing before moving to the next. We have a big IKEA system in the living room and each basket has 1 type of toy (trains, legos, cars, dinos, etc) so he has to pick up 1 basket before taking out and dumping another and I have a 2 basket max. No more than 2 baskets out max (sometimes he needs the basket of train tracks to go with the basket of trains) or it's too crazy.

If he refuses, I let him know he can choose 1 of 2 things, clean up or go sit on the couch (or an alternate not fun activity of my choosing) and I am going to count to 3 while he decides. He likes having a choice in the matter. But when I reach 3, then I will choose which one for him. And I follow through every time. If kids see that you don't follow through, then they know they can ignore you and at the end of the day, there probably won't be consequences. But I don't say things I know I can't follow through on. I won't threaten to throw away the brand new toy I just bought since I know if it comes down to it, I am not going to throw it out. If he refuses to clean up, then we won't move on to the next toy, even if it's for a few hours. Now he knows that I am going to stick to my guns so he doesn't wait it out for 2 hours but at first, he would wait it out to see if I might give up and give in so at first, it can be a lengthy process. I make a point to put my foot down and keep it there.

My older kids have chores. When they come in from school, they each have 1-2 things to do before they have a snack or get busy with anything else. If they don't do them, then I get to hold on to their ipod, phone, etc or they will get an additional chore. They are expected to remember on their own and the chores are reasonable for their ages, 10 & 13. My 10 year old has to clean the cat litter box and take out the recycling daily and my 13 year old has to gather up and take out the trash. We live in an apt complex so there are dumpsters out back so these things can go out daily.
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Old 05-19-2013, 11:28 AM   #8
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Re: How to teach kids to clean up after themselves?

Lead by example. If there is so many toys out that they get overwhelmed or distracted I help them. I also remind them to pick up when they're done with something before starting something else so the mess is minimal. Another thing that helps is make it a game "ok go pick up 15 toys, see who can pick up the fastest"
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Old 05-19-2013, 11:32 AM   #9
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Re: How to teach kids to clean up after themselves?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mibarra View Post
"Clean up" is abstract and vague. Try specific commands: put the blocks back in the bucket, put the puzzle in the box, etc. Many preschools and kindergartens also label bins and shelves with pictures of what goes there, makes it much more concrete for the kids.
Yea.
And when that doesn't work, time to get rid of stuff. The more minimalist I become, the less my kids make a mess with
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Old 05-19-2013, 11:37 AM   #10
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Re: How to teach kids to clean up after themselves?

I'm strict about it. I start early, teach them and then it is their responsibility. When they are young I make it a point that they clean up one thing before getting something else out. That gets them in the habit. Once they are a bit older if they are asked to clean up and do not it goes to the donation pile automatically and never comes out. I don't do a bunch of reminders and nagging, it's their choice what they want to do and they know the consequences. A bit older and then they don't need a reminder unless something weird happens that they get drug away in the middle of playing.

I also think that it helps if you thin the toy pile a bit. We don't have tons of toys, kids really don't need much. Teach them to value what they do have and take care of their things. Your house will be cleaner and you'll be much less stressed.
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