How do you get you child to show respect for their home environment by participating in keeping the home neat and tidy? My 3 year old still just tips baskets of toys out, pulls things out of storage boxes and drags things all over the house. He is usually being very productive when doing it but afterwards he refuses to pick up even a few bits and pieces. He is very articulate and understands the reasoning of me asking him to respect the home but just refuses to make that choice.
I'm not sure my advice is strictly Montessori but we've had some similar issues with our 3 1/2 year old son and have spent some time thinking about it.
I have a feeling that the standard Montessori advice would to start by making modifications to the environment - to have fewer things out and make it as easy as possible for your son to put them away. In most Montessori classrooms, the children are only allowed to use one material at a time and are required to put it back before taking another. This is not something we choose to enforce at home - I feel it would be far to limiting for my son's play - but undeniably the more different toys you have out at the same time, the more difficult the clean-up.
At this stage, I don't usually expect my son to clear up his toys by himself (well, unless there are only 1-2 things out and he knows exactly where they go) but I do expect him to be an active participant in the process from start to finish. A few things I have found to help:
* When I'm helping him clear up, *I* make a real effort to slow down to his pace. My natural impulse is just to get everything away as quickly as possible but by slowing down and putting things away systematically, I'm a much better role model for my son.
* If he says "No" to one task I suggest for him, I don't push it. I always suggest an alternative way he can help... Unless he's really tired or cranky for some reason, I'm pretty much always able to find some task he's willing to do that contributes to the goal of tidying up, and keeps him as an active participant in the process. One of the basic guidelines I've read about in the Montessori approach to discipline, is the importance of helping the child develop his own will rathering than trying to break it down to get the child to comply. I think that very much applies here.
Keep it to a minimum - many kids have far more toys than they can play with in a day or even a week.
Catilinn's response is great, especially about developing their own will. I would suggest to minimize the amount of toys (even if you have to tuck some away in closet in a garbage bag) and when he finishes with something, just suggest, "let's put that away first". Trust me, this is a hard and fast rule at our Montessori, when done, you put it away.
My 4 yo has a low set of shelves and shallow bins in her play room, a nice looking wooden box with lid in living room and lastly, while not attractive, another set of shelves in the sun room, which I try to keep tidiest. Having the shelf there has been a benefit (which I use as a negotiating tool). Shelves help create a sense of order and placement and bins also allow you to sort things according to theme - we do groupings like crayons/markers/drawing, play food, etc. This way, she doesn't have to tip over a basket or rummage through a pile to find something.
The multiple spots give her alternatives. First asking to take the item back to her room (by asking - where does the play food go? Answer - in the food bin. Great, let's go), If that fails, then the shelf in sunroom or the toy box are very close so she still makes a decision, but the stuff is out of the way and you both win, it's put away, but child has victory of choosing where to put it away. Now if it's a big mess, we work together. Occasionally, we take a few minutes to sort things back to their original places which, when she complains, is a useful lesson "I know, this isn't very fun, so if you put it back in the right place to begin, then we wouldn't have to do this".
Lastly, while not Montessori-inspired, more "Parenting with Love and Logic" , I have found this to be effective - if she has too much junk out, or socks or other things, I come out with a broom and regretfully say - "I don't enjoy how the house looks and I want to enjoy my home so whatever I sweep up goes in the trash" (and you need to be willing to throw it away if he calls your bluff). Amazing how a dramatic and exhausted child can move very fast to get things out of the way of a broom. This is never done in anger or as punishment, but more as a very calm, almost apologetic last resort for you to better enjoy your environment. *wink wink*
Again, that's a tactic for things you are willing to dispose. This can be said quite apologetically so you're not the bad guy, and sometimes the message hits home. Lindsey now knows - I throw things away. (Never a sentimental or special thing or gift from a relative, but it might be a crayons or a half-drawn picture, a small doll, doll clothing, something that is suddenly very precious to her).
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