Originally Posted by lolar2
In the vein of some of the pp's, what do you do when he refuses?
Some things ways in which we've responded to refusal:
~Offer a choice: "well, I still need help. If you don't want to do that, how about you do x, y or z instead? You can choose, but I do need help." Actually, I can't think of a time this hasn't worked for us. There is always something that needs doing, and if I do whatever I've asked my kid to do and my kid washes windows/washes the table/sweeps the floor/whatever then it's a win-win. And most importantly, they are participating in caring for our home and learning that they are capable of taking on responsibility (this is more important than doing exactly what I initially asked them to do). Make sure to express appreciation for any help. (eta, for clarity: In our home we expect the kids to help. You may not choose to not help. You will help. You can choose how
to help, so long as it addresses the current needs and is realistic.)
~make it a game: who can pick toys up the fastest? Can we beat the timer? Who can remember where this goes? Who wants to mop the floor by skating around on wet towels? Who wants to vacuum the floor with the elephant's trunk (which the vacuum cleaner hose kind of resembles)? (make sure to express appreciation for help.)
~figure out why the child doesn't want to do it, and help make it easier: Often picking up toys is overwhelming. The kids don't know where to start, or where to put it all, or it's taking too many trips to bring them back to their rooms. To make it easier, we can break it up into do-able pieces or rearrange how we store things or whatever. Making it easier to get done may happen right then, or it may take more creativity and planning (no one says you have to solve these things immediately, sometimes it takes time). Express appreciation for any effort they make.
~Ask yourself: Is this unusual? Is something else going on? Is the child hungry or tired or sick? Overwhelmed? Is there anything getting in the way that we need to address before the child can participate in cleaning up? Would there be a better time of day to clean up?
~Make it fun together time. We can clean a room together and share jokes and conversation, or just be silly. Cleaning up doesn't have to be unpleasant. Express appreciation and tell them you enjoyed their company.
~Simply say "since you didn't do it, I had to do it. Next time I expect you to do it." The expectation remains, the kids know you aren't pleased. And you can make a plan ahead of time to see that it gets done the next time, if need be. The key to this is that expectations have to be both appropriate/realistic and consistent
~"Waiting for the bus:" just stand there, waiting expectantly until they do it. (Not my favorite, not the best approach with my kids, but it has been helpful on occasion.) Express appreciation when they comply.
~Natural consequences: occasionally, something does get accidentally stepped on and broken (or chewed by the dog) when it's left on the floor. This is a good learning experience, and the next time a toy is left out you can remind the child what happened-and they might be more willing to pick it up (or it might take some time). This has been a powerful learning experience here.
~Make it a routine, something that happens the same way every day: it takes time for this to begin to work and to become a habit for everyone (and will require lots of supervision at first, or with kids of young ages). But the predictability of it really helps. Pick up time can be at a designated time once or twice a day. Or it can be that we put away one thing before taking out the next. So long as it's predictable. As always, express appreciation.
I've said to express appreciation throughout. I think expressing genuine appreciation for kids' contributions is important. I like to hear that my efforts are appreciated, I express appreciation for my partner's efforts every day, and I extend the same to my children. Positive feedback is very important. Kids need to know that their efforts are appreciated.
I think it's important to remember that these things take time, and no single response is going to work every single time. And sometimes, things aren't going to get done. It's a process. And our kids aren't the only ones learning. It takes time for them to get it, and it takes time for us to learn how to best approach this issue given our temperament & abilities and our kids' temperaments & abilities. And it does help to stretch our comfort zones a little bit, to be flexible, to be patient, and to get creative. I also think it helps to keep the expectation very clear and consistent: I find that it's okay to change our approach when needed, change our routine if needed, get creative, sometimes be flexible and open to negotiatin, to find new ways of doing housework--but the expectation is always
that the kids will help, that is always the goal and the message.