Getting my 3 1/2 year old to obey..need some consequence ideas! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 23 Old 09-20-2012, 10:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We don't spank, like most of you here :), but I need some other ideas for consequences for my son disobeying. I used to think he just wasn't listening, but he is listening, he's just chosing not to obey or respond. Mostly we deal with him trying to hug his sister, and when she's clearly had enough(starts crying and screaming) he pushes and keeps doing it..not always hugging though..he'll push her over if she's not doing/doing something he does or doesn't want her to do, , gets too rough with her, etc. She's 16 months, so she can take it a bit, but I get tired of the crying when I'm not in the room. It's more about respecting people's boundaries than anything else. If someone tells you to stop doing something..you should stop, tickling, wrestling, kissing, hugging..all that stuff. I can't keep my eye on them all day long. I've been doing time-outs, but sometimes only half the time and I know that's not doing him any favors. So hubby and I have agreed to put him in time-out after he gets one chance to obey and if he doesn't the first time it's time out for 3 minutes. I deal with being patient with the kids more than DH, and his usual response is yelling, if our son doesn't respond quickly enough. I get tired of hearing DH yell at the kids too. There's got to be a better way. The time-outs and being consistent have helped, but I'm not sure if there are other ideas out there that would be more effective. It doesn't help that DH supports my decision not to spank, but doesn't necessarily agree with it, so I feel even more pressure to find something that works for everyone. I always assumed that the picking on eachother was just sibling rivalry thing, but many people around me, including family and other kids parent's that he's around seems a little shocked that he doesn't obey even half the time. tips?


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#2 of 23 Old 09-20-2012, 11:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Also, getting him to clean up his toys! I figure at this age, he's almost 4..if he makes a mess, he should be able to clean it up. He may not want to but that doesn't mean he cant! DH and I get really tired of him dumping out bins of toys and then having to nag him to no end to get him to clean up his mess! We make a game of it sometimes, but it doesn't work every time.


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#3 of 23 Old 09-21-2012, 10:51 AM
 
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Gentle discipline isn't something you choose because it will teach a child to obey better than spanking or yelling would. It won't. Painful punishment will work far better to teach your child to do what you say, immediately.

 

Gentle discipline is about treating the child respectfully, guiding him to make choices that benefit the other people around him as well as himself. It is a long, slow process sometimes, a commitment to honor the child and yourself, and to maintaining a positive, nurturing relationship with your child that will last your whole lifetime.

 

Its harder in the early years, and pays off in spades as he grows.

 

Your expectations for your child are too advanced for his age. He cannot pick up all his toys and put them away at 4. Around 6-7 that might be a realistic expectation. Might. Making a game of it, doing it yourself if he doesn't, providing your child with a "clean slate" by modeling for him how good it feels to have a tidy space to start the next activity are what is appropriate at this age.

 

His behavior towards his younger sister is also completely typical. Punishment won't teach him what to do; it will only teach him what not to do, while hurting his relationship with her and with you and with his father. Yes, the solution is to always provide supervision. They are too young to be left alone in each other's company. Bring the younger one with you wherever you go... put up a safety gate in the kitchen to keep them close to you while do chores. When there are issues, model for him how to interact with his little sister: "I see your sister is crying. That means she doesn't like what you are doing. Step back, and try something else. Maybe she would like to play with this toy with you."

 

Remember, gentle discipline is about maintaining a secure, trusting, connected relationship between parent and child. Its main focus is not about obedience, although a connected relationship tends to lead to wanting to please you.  

 

Gentle discipline is hard work. It is sometimes referred to as Get Off Your Butt Parenting. It takes more time, effort, and attention to nurture children in a positive way. It is sometimes exhausting. But when your son is 16, and still talking with you, still sharing with you, still asking your opinion about being offered drugs from a schoolmate or how to ask a girl out on a date, you'll be so glad you put in the effort.

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#4 of 23 Old 09-21-2012, 12:00 PM
 
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Is there any focus on his good behaviors around his sister?  If he's told more often what not to do, rather than 'good job at xyz' he's going to opt for the bad behavior because it draws more attention.  Even negative attention is better than nothing.  I like the idea of a fish bowl or jar with pebbles/ping pong balls/etc to fill it up.  At his age he is more than able to earn ample reward for every good deed he does without being asked.  So if he puts a toy away you didn't ask for, he get's a pebble put in the jar.  Hugs his sister once then walks away - another pebble.  The number he can earn in a day is endless and you might consider an ocassional jackpot - multiple pebbles for a super good deed!  Set up a goal ahead of time for what he gets as a reward once it's full so he knows what he is working towards.  Never take pebbles away for bad behavior - it will just take him longer to get his reward if he doesn't behave.  Once the focus shifts to being more about the positive, the consequence of a timeout has more meaning because it will become less frequent since he has something to work towards!  Also works for dogs, cats, and cranky husbands ;-)

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#5 of 23 Old 09-24-2012, 07:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Let me be clear, I'm not trying to get him to do what I say immediately. I'm trying to figure out the best way to help him understand that this is just what you do..when you make a mess with toys, you clean them up when you're done...if your sister is wanting you to stop hugging her, you need to respect her boundaries and stop.. I want to teach him, I just need guidance! Also, I don't feel like time-outs are a horrible punishment. When he's being mean to his sister while they're playing, I like to think as time-outs as a natural consequence. He can't play with anyone and needs to be alone to think about how he can be nicer next time. I don't feel like this is unreasonable. I know everyone has their own opinion, but it seems to be the only thing that is working with him. I do ask him why he had to go to time-out and what happened, and what he can do better next time every time he goes.

 

Sometimes things need to be done immediately..I need you to get dressed so we can leave, brush your teeth before bed. When we are trying to get out the door because we are running late for something, etc. I just need ideas on trying to convey the importance of doing what we say because we know better than him sometimes! How is that unreasonable? We are teaching him time telling, but you know he's 4..he hasn't grasped it yet. Sometimes things have to be done now and there's no other option.


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#6 of 23 Old 09-24-2012, 07:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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And yes, there's plenty of praise along with the time-outs. I always praise him for being nice to his sister, staying with me at the grocery store, being responsible and not running off, every time I can possibly think about acknowledging the good behavior, I praise him for it


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#7 of 23 Old 09-24-2012, 10:39 AM
 
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I agree that your expectations are out of line with his age. You can't rush a 4-year-old. It'll just frustrate the 4-year-old and make things go slower. You have to get them started getting ready a bit ahead of time. It does take planning, but that's why it's harder to get out of the door with kids. They need extra time to get ready to go places. Even when they get older, it can be more work because they forget everything they have to do, but at least when they can read you can put up a list and say, "Have you done everything on the list yet?" At 4, you have to walk them through each step.

Also, you can't just say, "Pick up your toys" with a 4-year-old. You have to break it into small steps and stay with them while they do it. "Pick up the blocks and put them in this box." Then, "OK, now pick up the cars and put them in this box." And even then you can't just leave them to it. You have to stay with them and even help them get going and keep up with it. Sing the old Barney clean up song, "Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere, clean up, clean up, everybody do your share." It's surprising how much that helps keep them motivated at that age. You can start to get them into the habit of picking up as they go, and that's a great thing to do because it'll make your life easier in the future, but there's no real way to make your life easy with him now, and the expectation that he behave like a child a couple of years older than he is or he'll be punished feels unfair to me, and he could pick up on that and give up on trying to please you and it could become even more difficult. At his age, the biggest tool you have is that he wants to make you happy. Kids that age really like to please their parents. It would be a shame to lose that.

If the toys are a huge issue you could consider decluttering. That can make it much easier to pick up toys as you go. If you keep out a third and then put away the other two-thirds, you can change them around every month and have fresh things out every so often.
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#8 of 23 Old 09-24-2012, 10:53 AM
 
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I have to disagree that a 4 year old is not capable of putting toys away when asked.  My daughter is newly turned 5 and she has been putting her toys away when asked for almost a year.  I don't have to break it down.  The toys have homes.  She knows what toys belong where and she is capable of doing it when told to do so.

 

As for choosing not to listen..we are dealing with this also.  I will be watching for suggestions.  Right now time out is all we've been able to come up with.
 


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#9 of 23 Old 09-24-2012, 02:20 PM
 
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I myself have not had timing issues yet, but my friend was having trouble getting her 4yo ready for school.  She just couldn't get dressed on time.  She put out the clothes one morning, daughter didn't put all of them on - she was dressed enough to leave the house, nothing inappropriate, I think half jammies, half clothes and she got distracted and put her tutu on as well. The friend took her to school as is, explained to teachers why she looked rediculous, then after school asked how people reacted to her outfit.  A few kids teased her for it.  Next morning, she put on everything mom put out in record time!  Sometimes they don't have to be perfect to go out, a little embarassment goes a long way!

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#10 of 23 Old 09-24-2012, 05:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MadelinesMama View Post

I have to disagree that a 4 year old is not capable of putting toys away when asked.  My daughter is newly turned 5 and she has been putting her toys away when asked for almost a year.  I don't have to break it down.  The toys have homes.  She knows what toys belong where and she is capable of doing it when told to do so.

As for choosing not to listen..we are dealing with this also.  I will be watching for suggestions.  Right now time out is all we've been able to come up with.

 

Two things. First, there is a huge difference between a young 3-year-old, and an almost 4-year-old. Second, one 3-year-old being able to do something does not mean most 3-year-olds are able to. Just like kids reach developmental skills like walking at different ages, so they reach the developmental stage where they're able to hear a complicated direction and can put it in pieces themselves and then have the attention span to finish the project from start to finish by themselves. That is not a typical 3-year-old skill.
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#11 of 23 Old 09-24-2012, 05:44 PM
 
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My Dd is 3 yrs and 2 months old.

She has been putting her toys away for almost a year. Not every time, and not always without help, but very much understanding that they are supposed to go away and that putting them away will help to take care of them. Mind you, she is very interested and motivated by taking care of her toys.

What has helped for us is that we ask her to do it in steps.

"Please put the blocks back into the tub."

"Wow, thank you. That was very helpful, now we will know just where the blocks are when we want to play with them again."

"Now can you put the books back on the shelf?"

"Would you like to do it yourself or would you like me to help you?"

 

Our DD definately is in the not listening to us stage. And she knows what we would like. She knows what is expected of her. She knows when she is going against the rules. And she chooses to deliberately do so. It is a part of being three. Of being defiant. She is testing us, testing limits, testing her own autonomy, etc.

It is understandable as a necessary stage in her development. But VERY frustrating!

 

What works for us is "playful parenting". We basically coerce her to do the things we want and behave the way we want her to by making a game of it. It takes a lot of energy and work. But it is worth it every time because it leaves everyone with a smile instead of dread, resentment, anger and frustration. I hate fighting with my 3 yr old more than I hate expending the energy to make everything a game.

 

When nothing works, or I don't have the energy to make a game of it, or she is doing something deliberately naughty we do "chill out time". basically time out, but we call it time to chill out until she can relax enough to listen to what is being asked of her. It works almost all the time.


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#12 of 23 Old 09-24-2012, 09:29 PM
 
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Two things. First, there is a huge difference between a young 3-year-old, and an almost 4-year-old. Second, one 3-year-old being able to do something does not mean most 3-year-olds are able to. Just like kids reach developmental skills like walking at different ages, so they reach the developmental stage where they're able to hear a complicated direction and can put it in pieces themselves and then have the attention span to finish the project from start to finish by themselves. That is not a typical 3-year-old skill.

I never said that all 3 year olds can follow complex directions.  I said that my 4 year old was capable of doing so. I certainly wasn't implying that all children develop at the same rate.


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#13 of 23 Old 09-25-2012, 07:37 AM
 
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At 3 and a half I wasn't expecting my daughter to pick up all of her toys.  However, different kids are ready to do things at different times.

 

My daughter, now just five, doesn't like cleaning up her toys either.  The only "consequence" she gets from not cleaning up her toys is that if I have to do all of the cleaning it "tires me out" and thus I have less energy for play that day.  When it's put to her that way:  "If mummy has to clean up all of your mess she gets tired and won't be able to play with you as much afterwards" she usually drops what she's doing and pitches in with the clean up.  I'm not sure how GD this approach is, but it seems a rather "natural" consequence to me.  It *is* tiring for me to have to clean up after everyone.  So, if I'm doing all of the cleaning in the house it A) takes away from time that I have to play and B) makes me less enthusiastic about really active play.  It's not that I ignore DD for the rest of the day if she doesn't help clean, it's more that I will choose to only do quieter activities such as reading together or remain an observer to the more energetic play.

 

For us, this approach works quite well at the moment.  May not work in a few months though, and YYMV.


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#14 of 23 Old 09-25-2012, 06:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The approach of telling him that I won't have energy to play if I have to do it all myself might work. I do help him clean up. I dot tell him to go clean up with no direction. I do tell him how to clean up in steps. All that stuff. Even when I'm helping and directing he just stares off or starts playing with his toys that we are supposed to be cleaning up. Maybe for him it's just an age thing and maybe I do new to stash away a lot of our toys for the time being. That may solve the problem right there. I hate that it takes me threatening him to actually get him to clean up. Thanks guys.

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#15 of 23 Old 09-26-2012, 02:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well I put away about half of his toys that were out last night. I explained to him what I was doing and told him that if it was too overwhelming to clean up the amount of toys he gets out then we can just have less toys available to play with. He seems okay with it and they actually are playing more with the toys that are out. Hopefully this will reduce the stress of clean up time! As far as being mean to his sister or not listening, I think I'm going to continue to do time outs. They are definitely helping reduce the amount of incedents.

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#16 of 23 Old 09-30-2012, 10:09 PM
 
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What i did to help my son behave, was every day  i would tell him that if he didn't do his chores the chore pixie was going to come and take his toys. so after a while of letting this stew in his mind i sprinkled bread crumbs all over his bed, and when he asked me about it i acted surprised and told him that the crumbs were a sign the pixie was coming. That night i scratched at his door and whispered "listen to your mother timmy, she knows the truth". The next morning he was really tired but after that he always did his chores. This lasted up until his early teens and whenever he would misbehave i would just sprinkle bread crumbs on his bed and the next day he acted way better. I would definetly reccomend this method it worked like a charm.

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#17 of 23 Old 10-06-2012, 08:20 PM
 
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Gentle discipline isn't something you choose because it will teach a child to obey better than spanking or yelling would. It won't. Painful punishment will work far better to teach your child to do what you say, immediately.

 

Gentle discipline is about treating the child respectfully, guiding him to make choices that benefit the other people around him as well as himself. It is a long, slow process sometimes, a commitment to honor the child and yourself, and to maintaining a positive, nurturing relationship with your child that will last your whole lifetime.

 

Its harder in the early years, and pays off in spades as he grows.

 

Your expectations for your child are too advanced for his age. He cannot pick up all his toys and put them away at 4. Around 6-7 that might be a realistic expectation. Might. Making a game of it, doing it yourself if he doesn't, providing your child with a "clean slate" by modeling for him how good it feels to have a tidy space to start the next activity are what is appropriate at this age.

 

His behavior towards his younger sister is also completely typical. Punishment won't teach him what to do; it will only teach him what not to do, while hurting his relationship with her and with you and with his father. Yes, the solution is to always provide supervision. They are too young to be left alone in each other's company. Bring the younger one with you wherever you go... put up a safety gate in the kitchen to keep them close to you while do chores. When there are issues, model for him how to interact with his little sister: "I see your sister is crying. That means she doesn't like what you are doing. Step back, and try something else. Maybe she would like to play with this toy with you."

 

Remember, gentle discipline is about maintaining a secure, trusting, connected relationship between parent and child. Its main focus is not about obedience, although a connected relationship tends to lead to wanting to please you.  

 

Gentle discipline is hard work. It is sometimes referred to as Get Off Your Butt Parenting. It takes more time, effort, and attention to nurture children in a positive way. It is sometimes exhausting. But when your son is 16, and still talking with you, still sharing with you, still asking your opinion about being offered drugs from a schoolmate or how to ask a girl out on a date, you'll be so glad you put in the effort.

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Perfect description of GD and one I'll be keeping around to glance at when I feel lost. I am also sending this to the DH as well who really needs a solid description. :)


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#18 of 23 Old 10-11-2012, 06:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the tips! I actually pulled the "if I have to clean everything up myself ill be too tired to play with you," and totally worked the other day! Also DH and I are just starting to be more consistent with his schedule, and what to expect throughout he day. That's helping too. I am making a point to get him outside twice a day for good exercise or active play and that has helped with behavior issues too. He also is all of a sudden getting into books, finally! You know everyone always says there's no right way to parent and can I just say how true that is!?

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#19 of 23 Old 10-20-2012, 06:05 PM
 
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What i did to help my son behave, was every day  i would tell him that if he didn't do his chores the chore pixie was going to come and take his toys. so after a while of letting this stew in his mind i sprinkled bread crumbs all over his bed, and when he asked me about it i acted surprised and told him that the crumbs were a sign the pixie was coming. That night i scratched at his door and whispered "listen to your mother timmy, she knows the truth". The next morning he was really tired but after that he always did his chores. This lasted up until his early teens and whenever he would misbehave i would just sprinkle bread crumbs on his bed and the next day he acted way better. I would definetly reccomend this method it worked like a charm.



Its nice that this worked for you. But I'm not ok with lying to kids. To me this maybe "Gentle" in that there is no physical punishment, but it doesn't seem a respectful approach to me. 


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#20 of 23 Old 10-20-2012, 07:57 PM
 
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When my children start refusing to clean up their toys then its pretty obvious that they have to many. I will ask them if they are overwhelmed and would like to donate their toys to other children to pack them up and rotate them out. Ive been doing that since my oldest was around 2 and now they come to me and ask for help decluttering their toys when they start feeling overwhelmed. Like recently my FIL came for a visit and every time we see the inlaws they bring a huge amount of toys (most of which the children have no desire to have and many of which are broken) so now they are toys all over the place. My 5yo came up to me this morning and asked if we could go through the toys and give some to the children who don't have any (aka donate them) so tomorrow Im helping her go through her toys. When things aren't over cluttered and overwhelming then I find its a lot easier to get them to keep things clean.


As for the touching even at 5 I don't punish for my child trying to show affection to their sibling. I redirect and teach what is appropriate. I just had a baby 2 weeks ago and my older 3 adore their sister. I probably spend a good 3 hours a day teaching how to appropriate touch the baby and when to leave her alone. If the baby wants to be left alone Ill tell my 5yo to leave her alone and if she doesn't I remove her (prevention) and give her an activity to do (distraction),. If she is being to rough with one of her siblings I teach her how to interact with them. 5yos don't really understand how much bigger they are so they need to be taught how to be gentle to younger/smaller children. For example shes playing with her brother (20 months old) and knocks him over because she is to rough, I step in and explain what happened ("Oh no, you knocked over your brother when you were playing and now hes crying") and then suggest another way to play instead ("why not instead of playing tug of war with the sheet you build a tent"). Rinse repeat a million times a day orngbiggrin.gif


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#21 of 23 Old 12-03-2012, 12:28 AM
 
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Gosh I'd have to say I would think most 3 y/o could be expected to pick up their toys.  ODD started Montessori daycare at 18 months and all the toddlers knew they had to put away the 'job' they were playing with before they could get another one.  She figured it out the first day there by watching the other kids and brought the behavior home after a couple of months as well.  I'm not the greatest enforcer but at 3.5 she usually picks up when I remind her, and often enough when I don't.


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#22 of 23 Old 12-23-2012, 08:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just wanted to update here.. We've discovers that our son has more pent up energy than he knows what to do with. Doing mundane repetitive tasks are much easier for him after he's been outside running around a lot or jumping on the trampoline that we just got!! Holy crap that thing has saved my sanity. It was hard to tell why he was acting so spazzy because it has been going on for so long. When I felt like he had too much energy if take him outside to run around or ride his bike but he would never last long. It's almost like just being outside calmed him down. Since we got the trampoline and he gets a good vigorous work out in a short amount of time his behavior has improved greatly!! Maybe it's that he's almost 4, maybe not but he's doing much better. And there's less yelling in the house:)
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DH(9/04) DS(12/08) and DD(5/11)

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#23 of 23 Old 12-25-2012, 08:05 AM
 
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We have one child who finds tidying extremely difficult and one who has been able to do it from a very young age.  It's getting slowly easier for the eldest.

 

We picked up with them, singing songs, counting, ordering them into colours or size or furthest away etc - in other words it's a game and it's learning time.  Now I still break it down for the eldest and that still helps him.

 

I didn't punish for not doing it.  But I'd give rewards that I tried to make relevant to the tidiness - like 'now the room is tidy we can pull out the train set together' or now it's more like 'if the room is tidy early we can watch that film' or 'once it's done you can have your computer time'.  Also, a consequence of it not being tidy might be, 'well, we can't get any more toys out because there's no room for them so we can't play in here any more.'

 

Doing as they're told - being too rough in their play or not realising other kids' boundaries is a great example of something they need to learn how to do rather than not do if that makes sense - learning what to do instead of carrying on hugging when the other child is saying no will help.  I didn't punish for that.  Yes, I'd remove a child who wouldn't step away on their own, but saying, 'gentle touching - like this' helped, as did talking and reading about feelings - their own and others'.  What is it like to feel cross with someone else?  How do you feel when someone is cross with you?  I feel like this etc.  

 

I agree with an earlier post - this is the long game.  It takes longer than making them do/not do things because there will be a negative consequence otherwise, but it seems to be helping them understand and make choices in a range of situations that I haven't specifically helped them with before and I think their confidence and feelings of self worth are appropriate partly as a result of this 'helping them learn' approach over 'making them do it' through negative consequences.

 

I hope that makes sense.  The book How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk set it all out for me.

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