Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Clean your room!" and other misunderstood instructions

Recently a mother was visiting our house when I asked my 3 daughters to go upstairs and fold a load of laundry. After they left the room she commented "I wish my kids would help out around the house!" She went on to say that when she told her son to "clean his room" she would find him 20 minutes later in his room playing. The best outcome she could expect was for him to pick up the floor and stuff all the items under the bed, in the closet, or in drawers with no order whatsoever.

Here's what I have learned about this dilemma:

1. Kids do not understand broad concepts like "clean your room" (especially kids under 7). They do understand specific instructions like "put the Barbies in the blue bin". Another broad instruction mothers love to give their kids is "be good". Really? What does that look like? We must be more specific with our expectations when we have small children. Speak real directions that are meaningful in their kid-mind.

2. Flowing from #1...do their things have a "home" where they belong? If you tell your child to "put away the Barbies" do they know where the Barbies are supposed to go? If not, you are making "clean up" very difficult for your child. When their toys have "homes" they are much more likely to be willing and able to put them away. This doesn't have to be some HGTV play room makeover where each bin is labeled and embroidered, it just has to be a system known to the child and taught (and followed) by Mom and Dad.

3. Which brings us to #3...work as a team, especially in the beginning. Everyone likes to be part of a team, to laugh and have fun makes the work go by faster! Rather than sending each family member to a separate room to clean/straighten up, why not move as a team from room to room? This also gives each member an opportunity to "serve" the others! Turn on some music and have fun! Working together gives Mom and Dad the chance to show how the work should be done, to offer tips and guidance, and just build relationship too! Too many times we just bark out orders when it would be much more effective and efficient to say "let's go clean up your room" or "let's get this kitchen cleaned up together--why don't we set the timer for 15 minutes and see if we can beat the clock!!" I believe that kids want to spend time with their parents, especially one on one, so take advantage of that and be productive too!

1 comment:

  1. AMEN! Our children all have chores that are laid out, buddies, a system, etc. They love accomplishment & so do I!!! May not be perfect - hello we are human, but I believe all children can help out :)


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