4 yo does NOT clean - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 11-01-2011, 01:51 PM - Thread Starter
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So, I don't know what to do.  My 4 year old deliberately makes a mess... and leaves it.  I tell him that the whatever needs to be picked up if he's done, or I'm putting in the saturday box/trash bin... he walks away and doesn't care....but his 6 yo brother does and swoops in and cleans it up.  We only have communal toys here... so its not his or his brothers...  And, it could be something that 6 yo could care less about -- he does NOT want any toys to go away whether he likes them or not...  I feel bad for 6yo... he's always picking up his brothers messes (I thought he'd get tired of it and stop after a bit, but he hasn't...and now 4 yo looks to 6yo to clean up his messes...  how would you handle it?




(1 on 1, I can usually come up with something... but add in siblings and everything changes...)

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#2 of 9 Old 11-01-2011, 02:45 PM
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You could try picking up with him. Or he may need more positive when/then guidance too? You could also time your request so that it is more likely to be accepted--just until you get him in the habit of not freaking out and ignoring you. Instead of pick up happening right when he makes the mess, you could have a pick up time at a specific hour of the day--just some ideas!

Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#3 of 9 Old 11-01-2011, 08:49 PM
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Have you tried dividing what needs to be picked up in half and have each kid pick up half?

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#4 of 9 Old 11-01-2011, 09:02 PM
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We have had a similar situation in our family.  The 7 year old cleaned up after the 5 year old because he didn't want his toys to be put into the give-away box. 


What has helped somewhat is leaving the give-away box in the laundry room for a period of time.  If there is something in there that someone wants, they are free to put it away, but this doesn't take away from the consequence of having toys being placed in the box when they aren't cleaned up. 


Another idea which has helped around here:  I explained to the 7 year old what was going on and asked him please not to clean up after the 5 year old, that she needed to learn how to clean up herself.   

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#5 of 9 Old 11-02-2011, 06:12 AM
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My baby picks up better than my preteen. I think some people are just wired for neatness.

Needless to say I would do something different than the "trash bin". Not sure what, but more individual.

mom to 14yr dd and 4yr dd
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#6 of 9 Old 11-02-2011, 04:29 PM
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Start by giving the 4 year old concrete directions with a choice and don't make him clean up everything at first.  Are you going to pick up the red blocks or the blue blocks? You can pick up five pieces or six pieces.  Do you want to throw away your napkin first or put your plate in the sink. 


You could make it fun and time them, make it a race to see how fast they can pick up.


I have a hard time with this as well and these are some ideas I've heard of.  HTH

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#7 of 9 Old 11-02-2011, 04:50 PM
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Ugh.  I had the give-away/trash consequence when I was a kid, and I am still hurt by it.  It never did teach me to be tidier, it taught me that when 'mom' didn't get what she wanted, the way she wanted it, then I lost my posessions.


t's such a permanant punishment for a very temporary issue and I learned that I didn't own anything, so why should I learn to value/respect it?  I know that's not the intention, but that's what I learned.


I agree with making it a game, somehow fun. I don't know anyone that enjoys cleaning, much less a child, but that doesn't mean it can't be done.  Perhaps rather than discipline, you could make a reward system?   It's great that the 6yo is helping, but it sounds like they're doing it out of fear.  You could do something to encourage the 4yo to help the 6yo as well.   

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#8 of 9 Old 11-02-2011, 09:47 PM
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Yep, normal 4 year old behavior! I have 1 who turns 5 tomorrow, so i hope he will outgrow it like my 11 & 8 year olds did! Hang in there!



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#9 of 9 Old 11-02-2011, 10:47 PM
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I've found that modeling works.  If I do something consistently all the time, my soon to be 4yoDD will do the same.  When I knit and craft, I make sure I tidy up my workspace once finished.  Same goes with cooking, and I try to keep my desk neat and organized.


Natural consequences also come into play.  DD has learned that if her room is a mess, she'll have issues with tripping and falling over things (and getting hurt), as will the rest of the family when we go into her room.  The same goes for the living room- she knows that people will trip over her mess, she knows that the cats will scatter her toys, and she knows that if she doesn't organize her things she'll have trouble finding them later. 

Me (27) DW (28) DD1 (9) DD2 (7) DD 3 (4)
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