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Old 10-25-2008, 01:26 PM   #1
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3 YO not helping clean up

i am having a problem with one of my boys (micah). he WILL NOT help clean up. i know part of it is his attention span for that sort of thing, and part of it is his age (he just turned 3), but honestly is there ANYTHING i can do to get this boy to help once in a while??? today i tried making it into a game. he was mildly interested at first, but then decided to make a car transporter instead. meanwhile, jonas is putting everything away. the other day i tried rewarding them with mini M&Ms for helping. no go. for micah anyway, jonas was happy to help.

i wouldn't have any problem taking the toys away, but then jonas won't have anything, and he DOES help clean! not to mention he (micah) just doesn't care.

i would go around and hold his hands and physically wrap his hands around the toys and put them away (which has helped in the past) but i just can't do it right now. i get exhausted with bending over, and it hurts.

so what else can i try?? i do know they have too many toys (though they already have far less than most), so that is my weekend project- to sort through and put some in the basement.

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Old 10-25-2008, 04:01 PM   #2
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Re: 3 YO not helping clean up

Have you done time outs or taking away perhaps a special toy? Put him to bed early? No choice on snack (if you give them choices)? Is it possible to somehow separate them so that one has toys and the other doesn't?

Or, maybe just start small. How well does he count? If he counts well to 5, have him pick up 5 toys and put them away. Unless he gets out toy after toy after toy, if you do that periodically throughout the day the toys should be pretty much picked up by the end of the day.
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Old 10-25-2008, 04:38 PM   #3
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Re: 3 YO not helping clean up

dd is 3, too, and cleaning up is something they work on at preschool - they start by askig kids to pick up 2 toys and give a stamp on the hand when they do. next day it's 3 toys, then 4, and so on. my dd is very distractable and i found just telling her to clean up was too vague - it seemed too overwhelming to her. asking her to clean up little parts with a fun goal at the end - like, snack time or going outside - works well now.
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Old 10-25-2008, 05:51 PM   #4
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Re: 3 YO not helping clean up

he counts very well, and is VERY into stamps right now, so i think i'll try that tomorrow. have him pick up so many things and then he'll get a stamp. great ideas!!
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Old 10-25-2008, 07:30 PM   #5
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Re: 3 YO not helping clean up

He's only 3, momma. He needs to be trained to clean up. Some need that training and teaching more than others. Some don't focus as well. And some are just plain lazy (although that doesn't often show up truly until they are older - like 9, urgh!!) It takes lots of patience to train these little guys sometimes.

I have chore cards for my kids. They are assigned certain chores in our playroom that I put on a card with a picture and words. I actually walk him through these chore cards though. The only time I tell him to clean up and then leave the room is when he's been playing during quiet time. Usually he has one toy out (like cars) and he's the only one that played with them. He doesn't get his afternoon snack until these are all cleaned up. If he whines and complains, there is a consequence.

Back to the cards. I never leave a child this age to do his chores alone outside of that afternoon chore. I walk them through every thing and praise as we go. Again, if there is whining and complaining, then there is a consequence. To be honest, I don't reward for chores. I guess I never thought to do that. I give my older kids an allowance now. But with my younger ones, their reward is having momma "help" them. I have found that if I am present through most of his work, he will work pleasantly and I don't have to lift a finger.

I would start assigning certain toys or split the room that needs to be picked up. That way your older child won't have to clean everything up by himself and there is some responsibility put on the 3 yod. Then I would sit in the middle of the area that 3 yod is supposed to clean up and just direct him in what to clean up. You can make it a game. If he doesn't go for the clean up (game or not), then there should be a consequence.

I have 2 children that never really had to train much in cleaning and chores. I have 2 so far that I have had to train and work with significantly. I am in the middle of that with my 3 yod right now (so I am walking this road with you.) I will have two more to work with in the future but I won't change much of what I am doing now. And just remember, he's still pretty young. I still consider my 3 yod to be closer to a baby than anything (he'll be 4 yod in Feb and is starting to show that move toward preschool and thinking on a high level.) I do expect him to obey me and do the chores but I am very gentle with this teaching.
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Old 10-25-2008, 08:01 PM   #6
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Re: 3 YO not helping clean up

yeah, i hear ya. i know he's young (though they are both 3--twins). he also reminds me so much of myself its not even funny. i am just as distractable as he is. i do sit with him/them and we work together. i would never expect him to just clean up while im off doing something else! that would be some sort of miracle! i just want him to help!! our "playroom" is our living room, and that and the adjoining room are the only place they have toys, besides some trucks outside. i really can't think of a consequence that he would really care about? i do not hit or spank, and he doesn't give a lick about time out. what kind of consequences do you use?
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Old 10-25-2008, 09:28 PM   #7
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Re: 3 YO not helping clean up

My son was just like this! His cousin- same age and also a boy- is a super helper. He does it with no coersion, threats or anything- just does it!

My ds didn't give a hoot what you said or did- timeouts, consequences, none of it worked. So I needed some new ideas. Here's what worked for him-

Clean up as you go- don't let the mess get so out of control that it is completely overwhelming. AND- more importantly make it fun!

I tried all of the following things at different times and some worked for a while then stopped. Some kind of got him motivated but he might only do one or two toys then stop. Some worked sometimes but not others. But see what works for your son by trying them with no pressure or negative feelings/consequences. If he's like my son, then if feels you are trying to "make him" do it he may purposely NOT do it. (When my nephew was over and he would clean up quickly while my son avoided lifting a finger- at some point I told dn to stop cleaning and praised him for doing a good job- but the rest was for ds to help with. Then we'd leave to do something else and ds couldn't join us until he finished his job.)

We sang a clean up song when it was time-
Either the Blues Clues song
(where does it belong, where does it belong, where does it belong?
It's the clean up, clean up song!)
or the one they sang at daycare
(clean up, clean up, everybody clean up
clean up, clean up, so we can *go outside*)
And we kept on singing while we cleaned. Sometimes these songs- sometimes others.

I would get down and help saying I'm doing all the blue blocks- don't help me ok? You can only do the red or green ones. Of course then he'd scramble to get as many blue ones as he could and I would act outraged then decide to do a different color and ask him not to take that color- then I'd repeat as many times as necessary. He would laugh and laugh at how he outsmarted me.

Or- I'd say I am going to pick up 6 blocks- nobody can do more than me. Then I'd start counting. Of course he would try to get more than me. Again I'd be outraged. And I would repeat by trying to get more than him and he'd try to beat me.

Or- I am cleaning up the food- DS you clean up the cars (or let him pick) whoever cleans up all of theirs first gets to pick the video we will watch, game we will play, their seat at the table or whatever.

Or we would throw the puppets back into the basket to see how many baskets we could make. Or the animals would run back into their basket because a grizzly bear was coming! Or I'd start driving the cars into the basket with sound effects and long jumps over other toys.

When ds was very unwilling- in the beginning- I would tell him we can't go outside (or do something else he really liked to do) until the blocks were cleaned up. In the beginning I wouldn't always make an issue of cleaning up ALL the toys before we went out- just a manageable amount. Then when we came back in I'd do it again. We can't watch our quiet video before lunch until the cars are all cleaned up. Why don't you do that quickly so you will have time to watch Clifford? I still do this sometimes but ds has gotten much better at cleaning up without a fight and without help most of the time!

DS has come a long way in a very short time (3 months?- just this summer.) Now he mostly cleans up when I ask him to- although sometimes he asks me to help him- and I'll say- after you pick up 5 things I will come and help. Usually I don't have to do the competitive games anymore, but sometimes we do just for fun- (because it is fun!) It has made a huge difference- made me stop feeling annoyed at his unwillingness to help and re-conditioned him to see it as part of the play (fun) so now he doesn't remember to try to avoid it.

It's definitely worth the time. And it forces you to take some time to be playful with your dc in a constructive way. SOOO much better than having to get down and play dinosaurs or whatever for seemingly endless periods of time- LOL.

Hope that helps! Good luck!
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Last edited by turtle2who; 10-25-2008 at 09:31 PM.
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