age appropriate expectations for 4 and 7yo to clean up after themselves - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 27 Old 04-14-2014, 11:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'd like to know what kind of expectations are appropriate for a 4yo and a 7yo.  I don't expect perfection.  I do expect more than what's happening now.

 

They have very few toys available right now.  The places to put them away are labeled and within easy reach.  I tried hard not to make it punitive, but said that they were getting a fresh start and we'd make it easy to clean up.  They chose what came back into the room.  So I feel like I've modified the environment for them.

 

My next step is looking for solutions as a family.  When I've asked for their input in the past I usually get "reward me and punish my sister".   So even though I'd like to work on this together with their input, I'd also like to have some suggestions in mind. 

 

I was thinking that after a specified time, say 8pm daily for example, everything not put away in the common areas (this includes not put away parent items as well) gets put in a big box.  It could be redeemed for something like 10c or could come out the next Sunday afternoon for free.  The collected change would go to a family outing.   As far as bedrooms-- Twice a week they need to be picked up and the door stays shut (so I don't have to see it).   After the specified pick-up time, we'd do the big box as above.  It really needs to be done this often just to see the floor.  And because they always suggest it and in the hopes of getting things off right, we could do a reward chart for the first couple of weeks.  Does this sound like a fair starting point?

 

I am not willing to spend all of my time picking up what other family members have gotten out for personal use and are capable of putting away themselves.  I am also not willing to step over the mess that accumulates when it's not put away. 

 

I'm wondering how much "help" they should get.  While they are physically capable of taking care of their stuff, I also realize that it takes a certain level of maturity to do the things you don't want to do.  And how would you help?  It seems like help to them frequently means "do it for me". 

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#2 of 27 Old 04-15-2014, 05:13 AM
 
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At this age (4-7) I used incentives as you describe for various things. I felt that the challenge of that age was perceiving and developing a constructive interface with others & the "world." At this age there didn't seem to be the awareness of the intrinsic benefit of cleaning up, brushing teeth, eating well, practicing reading and writing skills, following a schedule, etc. I used incentives rather than punishments. One incentive that worked well was a filling punch card for a reward. Every evening that you see that the a specific area, such as toys, are cleaned up without your work or reminders, the kids get a punch. After the card is full (5-8 punches per card is sufficient for that age) they get a privilege. Obviously it has to be something worth working for. I didn't use material rewards but privileges instead since the whole point is learning responsibility and attaining the rewards that brings. My message was that the punch cards are a tool for learning skills that you have to learn in order to be respected and grownup, and one the child has the knack of self-improvement, the punch cards won't be necessary. The end of the punch card program (about 1.5-2 years) was a "graduation" event for us, I gave a certificate on a birthday to commemorate attaining the skill of self-discipline through the punch card program.

 

The one thing to avoid is to outline how your children's underdeveloped sense of responsibility is personally affecting you. Then the motivation to take responsibility becomes about pleasing you or avoiding your displeasure rather than personally building their own skills. I wouldn't address the matter of how this is affecting you unless the kids were in their teens.

 

Best wishes!

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#3 of 27 Old 04-15-2014, 05:27 AM
 
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I have 5 kids, and our house in generally picked up. We homeschool, so it can go from tidy to explosion from breakfast to dinner. Our kids are 9, 6, 5, 3, and 1.

I have found the best way for us to keep things where they go is to make it a family thing. Instead of inserting conflict and guilt, the kids seem.to have a "feel" for when I am going to initiate picking up. The older ones do it on their own, more reliably as they get older. Dd1 will promptly, without being told, clean up her room and then sweep the downstairs floor if we mention someone is coming.over, for example.

Otherwise, I just draw their attention in a matter of fact way to the mayhem they have left behind them. .it an individual child, but as a family. Then, I start issuing tasks. You put away x, you do y. I busy myself, but don't.do their work for them. When a kid is done, they come.back to be given another job.

Maybe an evening cleanup of that fashion would be helpful for your family?
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#4 of 27 Old 04-15-2014, 08:36 AM
 
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I like your approach, FisherFamily. The OP says there is often conflict between the two kids, however. Creating a "family" atmosphere between only 2 kids may be a little more difficult than in a group (certainly worth emphasizing and cultivating, however!) How do you handle conflict among the kids? Or when one falls into a habit of laziness or bossiness?

 

Between us it seems we have the bases covered: do it for yourself, and do it for the family. Now how to make it happen, right? :)

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#5 of 27 Old 04-16-2014, 05:36 PM
 
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At that age range I think I would get out of the focus on kids cleaning just their stuff. Sort of like what FF is saying. My 12 year old does have chores that are her job. But for some time (before she was 7) she would help out in other areas and I would help with her stuff. I think setting them up to focus on their stuff is not working and could back-fire when they're older and think they are in charge of just their stuff, which isn't a very nice way to live with a group. 

 

I might keep the toy thing as their "chore" but if they can't/won't do it, I may model helping each other by offering to help or do their chores that day. You can nicely remind them the following day that you helped them with their chores and ask them for help with something extra. 

 

I also employ a bit of behaviorism/rewards in the times that I help DC with things that are really more her obligation by nicely highlighting to her that I can't do "x" for her because I have to do her laundry. And, the contrast is that if she really helps me, I will sometimes offer to do something she was planing on working on. 

 

I have a three year old and don't really feel that consistently picking up is a developmentally appropriate expectation. But, I do model picking up by cleaning one thing before getting the next out. We also do the "clean-up song". Often she does clean. Often it's the biggest thrill of the moment but I think it's about harnessing the mood when it's there and that requiring pick-up at a certain time would just not work. 

 

I would try to exhaust all other ideas before getting into a toy buy-back system. 

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#6 of 27 Old 04-17-2014, 07:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your replies.

 

Puma, thank you for reminding me of the connection between responsibility and privileges.  Reward charts tend to rub me the wrong way.  They feel manipulative.  But there is a true relationship between privileges and responsibility; I can go with that.

 

Fisher, we attempt a family clean up.  Maybe you can help trouble-shoot.  Just the "time to clean up" seems to start conflict.  They, understandably, would rather not.  I give them time to finish what they're doing first.  I will give directives of where to start.  My 7yo has actually been doing quite well the past couple of days.  Sometimes she gets sidetracked by her sister.  Sometimes she feels too "bossed".  4yo on the other hand has been creating mayhem.  If she doesn't like what she hears, she will pretend not to hear.   Yesterday, she was pulling the covers off DD1s bed.  I'm going to try to be especially deliberate about her special time and also help her get most of her stuff put away while DD1 is in school.  We also have an 8mo and I think she may be feeling stuck in the middle.   We definitely have the bossiness/laziness habit going on between the two girls.  Sometimes we run out of time (due to not actually doing anything during the time) and I don't like to make bedtime too late. 

 

Identity, I get how being in charge of "just" their stuff could backfire.  In fact, they share a room and do have disputes about who got out what and why each of them should not be in charge of putting it away.   And I understand because I don't want to clean up other's messes either.....  Frequently when we have our family clean-up time I'm working on the kitchen, and I've mentioned that their stuff is something they can do and the kitchen is something I can do.  I've brought up laundry before too.  They have very minimal other chores that are more family oriented, but picking up after themselves is such a huge job, that it's really most of what they're responsible for.  I try to be available to help when it means doing it together, and I've offered to help them after they help me.  But I don't want to spend a lot of time cleaning up a child's mess when they mostly just watch me do it, and I get behind on my own work so they can get out the next thing they refuse to put away.  It's hard to create both personal responsibility and family teamwork.  

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#7 of 27 Old 04-17-2014, 08:31 AM
 
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First, I think the foundation should be to praise the values that helping out and cleaning up represent, responsibility being one.  There are others like self-reliance, kindness, cooperation, helping others, helping the family, initiative.  Give them lots of positive feedback on this.  Even if you use tangible rewards you should also use social rewards.  It'[s a good idea to put some thought into how to talk about this stuff, parents tend to be good at talking about unwanted behavior and but they tend to take the behavior they want for granted and we need practice talking about it in positive terms.  Also, if you hang around while they are putting things up and just pay attention and speak a running dialog of what they are doing, that is rewarding to the kids.  Just plain attention is rewarding.

 

Tangible rewards (reward charts) can be useful in getting a new behavior to start, but also use social rewards. Establish habits by using lots of reinforced practice.  After the habit is established you can fade the reward chart (or use it for something else)  and keep up the social rewards.   Then fade the social awards so you don't give them all the time.  An established habit becomes more robust if you don't reward it every time, it becomes harder to extinguish.

 

Better to use tokens rather than money.  Money is can create other behavior problems you need to solve, but tokens are limited in what they can be used for.   I think money is OK for mundane chores like taking out the trash, but you should still use social rewards, positive attention for being responsible, helping the family, taking initiative.   (In general, I think the best way to learn about money and work is to do odd jobs or babysitting for a neighbor. Family chores are just not the same, you can't really be fired, intra-family dynamics are just different. The parents do "chores" for free.)

 

Everyday Parenting Toolkit is a good book, by the way.

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#8 of 27 Old 04-17-2014, 10:36 AM
 
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It was a big help in this area when my daughter actually realized that true adults do not have parents or servants running the household, taking care of their bodies, making decisions, etc. It was like a "bolt from the blue" for her. She realized that she could and would be an adult herself one day, and the sooner she got into a more adult program the further along she would be toward being her own person - an adult, also. This is very uplifting for a young child, it's an entirely new horizon for them. Focusing on cleaning up is not as much fun as focusing on watching a movie, making a gourmet meal, taking a walk, or visiting friends. My daughter realized that adults who do these things have quietly privately taken care of the cleaning up and it's a non-issue. That was her goal and it worked well.

 

As an only child, she didn't have any sibling issues, however.

 

The social rewards for her have come later, high school and after. I personally think that social rewards are not truly motivating for children until they are older than the OP's kids. My reasoning for this is that what appears to be a social reward in childhood is often just bargaining & brokering (doing only your share & expecting recognition for it). To my thinking, truly contributing to the family is "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" - which means that the most able are always doing more... Until a high level of self-actualization takes place in a person (extremely unlikely in a 7-yr-old) they can't give without "keeping score." So the idea of "everyone does their share" in the household with small children can be too advanced for their thinking and feel mandatory and punitive.

 

In our family, gifts are not to be repaid. Raising our daughter was our gift to her. Minding her own needs is separate from that, personal to her. Her giving of her skills to all of us by helping with the family is her own choice, freely made, after having had time & support to get her own life in order first - so it's not a contract, it's a gift of love, which is what makes family life different from other social contracts, such as employment.

 

 

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#9 of 27 Old 04-17-2014, 11:35 AM
 
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It was a big help in this area when my daughter actually realized that true adults do not have parents or servants running the household, taking care of their bodies, making decisions, etc. It was like a "bolt from the blue" for her. She realized that she could and would be an adult herself one day, and the sooner she got into a more adult program the further along she would be toward being her own person - an adult, also. This is very uplifting for a young child, it's an entirely new horizon for them. Focusing on cleaning up is not as much fun as focusing on watching a movie, making a gourmet meal, taking a walk, or visiting friends. My daughter realized that adults who do these things have quietly privately taken care of the cleaning up and it's a non-issue. That was her goal and it worked well.

 

Seven year-olds know that their parents don't have servants (assuming they don't have servants, of course).   But I am not sure knowing that motivates behavior in and of itself.

 

I agree that identifying with mature character traits like self-reliance can be uplifting.   Parents can encourage kids start making this connection starting around age 3.  You can start celebrating self-reliance around age 3.  You can catch the kid being self-reliant at age three.

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#10 of 27 Old 04-17-2014, 12:37 PM
 
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What happens if you have the clean up time but don't require participation? I don't know how this works with an older child, but it works well for my 4 year old and 2 year old niece when I watch her. I sing a tidying up song and just start to pick up. My DD usually joins in if her own volition, and I'll give her little tasks to do. Sometimes she'll drift between play and clean up, which is fine with me. My niece usually doesn't join in for long, but I expect she will soon. I am okay with picking up the toys a lot of the time because my DD willingly helps me with other tasks. I think the grown up chores just seem more enticing.
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#11 of 27 Old 04-17-2014, 12:44 PM
 
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Seven year-olds know that their parents don't have servants (assuming they don't have servants, of course).   But I am not sure knowing that motivates behavior in and of itself.

 

It doesn't, you have to make them understand it. You have to help them see that they aren't just "in" the world but moving through it. Where you are now, they will be. That was the eye-opener for my daughter. I would playfully ask: "OK, so... when you're 20, will you be able to do your own laundry? Like, now, you don't even know where your clothes are! Are they under the bed?! Like usual?! HAHA - 'Hey mom! Have you seen the keys to my apartment/car/gym locker?' 'No, honey. Have you checked under the bed where you keep your jammies?'"

 

Laughter - and insight.

 

Self-reliance does start early, and I also saw it around 3 yrs old. There are easy ways to capture the opportunity at any age. My daughter had a pixie haircut around that age because she wanted to wash herself and not be bathed. So I taught her how to take a shower & we agreed to cut her hair short. Better for both of us, I thought.

 

There are many great insights in this thread. This can be a really hard topic. I had more trouble here during the teen years than earlier. 

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#12 of 27 Old 04-17-2014, 12:58 PM
 
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One thing that conflicts with my experience with my own kids is the idea that social rewards are not motivating for children (even young children). Social rewards (like the reality that mom is happier when everyone helps clean) are not a reward or punishment in my mind. It is absolutely true that things like that can be framed in a way that make them more reward-based than they are naturally but the reality that people like to be around people who are nice and helpful and generally pro-social is "life".  In my experience children pick up on this at a very, very young age...like by 9 months old being the start. 

 

We have certainly made an effort to point out this reality to our children. I'm careful not to twist it and turn it into a reward/punishment thing but if I feel like the situation calls for it I don't mind mentioning that I appreciate help and why and pointing out to my kids that when I'm given help that I have more time and inclination to do other nice things for the family. 


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I agree with IdentityCrisisMama but I would call the social rewards a side-effect of personal responsibility. Easing the way and pleasing others can be a positive thing, but it can also be a negative thing too - if your children are angry with you they will know to do the opposite of what they have learned makes things go easily for you - this can be a real trial in teen and pre-teen years. I emphasized that what others most appreciate in relationships is being with someone who truly has their act together and can contribute meaningfully, it goes beyond just being cooperative or meeting your "dole" of emotional or physical commitment to the relationship or family. Though it has to start somewhere of course!

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#14 of 27 Old 04-17-2014, 01:51 PM
 
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Ah, yes. I think I see what you're saying. We want our kids to do the the right things for the right reasons. We can look at social rewards as a sort of extrinsic motivation and we certainly wouldn't want to create a situation where that was the main motivation...?  Is that what you mean?  

 

That's pretty deep and I'm not sure I agree. I guess we'd really have to evaluate what the end goals this intrinsic motivation we're hoping to instill are. For me, I think it may well be pro-social behavior because that is what living in harmony looks like to me.  

 

On the personality scale I think I am probably more motivated by making people happy than I am by personal responsibility and I think that's a fine way to be. 

 

I do see your point about creating a pleasers...but I think pleasers come from a different place from what I'm describing. Taking sincere pleasure in making and seeing others happy is not a negative trait the way needing to please is considered a negative. 

 

My gut tells me that you can just as easily see a negative manifesation of the trait that highly prizes personal responsibility as you can the negative manifestation of the trait that highly prizes making others happy. 


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#15 of 27 Old 04-17-2014, 02:23 PM
 
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But I don't want to spend a lot of time cleaning up a child's mess when they mostly just watch me do it, and I get behind on my own work so they can get out the next thing they refuse to put away.  It's hard to create both personal responsibility and family teamwork.  

Yes, I do get that.  

 

By 7 it seems like your older child may be able to help with some things that are more interesting to her/him than cleaning toys that would be genuinely helpful to you though. Perhaps your 7 year old could ready the 4 year old for bed, read some books and then get her/himself in bed while you are doing the cleaning (if they decide they can't/won't do that part).  

 

I think that at age 4 certainly and then still a bit by 7 it is a reality that kids helping and finding the pleasure in helping can sometimes feel like a lot of work...but I think the pay-off is worth it. I understand that by 4 & 7 it's starting to feel like you should be able to dictate how they should be helpful but I feel like a few more years of helping them see the bigger picture would be better for you in the long-run. Just like how when they were 2 you didn't limit or force the sort of help you wanted and were patient and understanding that it was a process, yk? 

 

Does that sound like something that could work? 


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#16 of 27 Old 04-17-2014, 02:41 PM
 
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Ah, yes. I think I see what you're saying. We want our kids to do the the right things for the right reasons. We can look at social rewards as a sort of extrinsic motivation and we certainly wouldn't want to create a situation where that was the main motivation...?  Is that what you mean?  

 

That's pretty deep and I'm not sure I agree. I guess we'd really have to evaluate what the end goals this intrinsic motivation we're hoping to instill are. For me, I think it may well be pro-social behavior because that is what living in harmony looks like to me.  

 

On the personality scale I think I am probably more motivated by making people happy than I am by personal responsibility and I think that's a fine way to be. 

 

I do see your point about creating a pleasers...but I think pleasers come from a different place from what I'm describing. Taking sincere pleasure in making and seeing others happy is not a negative trait the way needing to please is considered a negative. 

 

My gut tells me that you can just as easily see a negative manifesation of the trait that highly prizes personal responsibility as you can the negative manifestation of the trait that highly prizes making others happy. 

 

 

Yes, you do see what I'm saying exactly.

 

It may seem deep but I think it's an important distinction, because social experiences don't always go as planned and at times we must learn to get by without them, or to cope with changes in relationships, so having no one to please and being able to be alone, or being able to stay objective in relationships, is really important... having your self-esteem tied up in relationships, I think is not the best path to take. I'm not saying that there is anything overtly negative about what you're saying, I don't think that creating "pleasers" in the way you mean is a risk in a loving family, it's just that I see the "depth" (or distinction) between the motivation (self-actualization vs social cooperation) as being very important, even at a young age, since it's easy to get into a habit of thought and attitude about behavior that's cultivated in the family.

 

Stimulating discussion!

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#17 of 27 Old 04-17-2014, 03:14 PM
 
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Interesting stuff!  

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I'm not saying that there is anything overtly negative about what you're saying, I don't think that creating "pleasers" in the way you mean is a risk in a loving family, it's just that I see the "depth" (or distinction) between the motivation (self-actualization vs social cooperation) as being very important, even at a young age, since it's easy to get into a habit of thought and attitude about behavior that's cultivated in the family.

 

Stimulating discussion!

 

I'm not sure I get it entirely but I agree that it's a super interesting discussion.  :love


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#18 of 27 Old 04-18-2014, 06:05 AM
 
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(Just want to throw a contrary view into the mix to see what comes of it.)

 

The reinforcing power of adult attention has been known to science since the early 1960s:

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1226164/

 

In other words, you get more of what you pay attention to, that what it means to say that attention is reinforcing.   At the time Freudian psychology had a lot of influence and care givers tended to direct their attention to harmless (harmless in the short run) problem behaviors.  Experiments showed up to a 40-fold reduction in unwanted behavior within 2 weeks simply by redirecting attention.  Later, scientist learned that social attention delivers dopamine to the reward centers of the brain.

 

The dynamics will be the same whether you intend it or not, attention is rewarding regardless of your intentions.  But if you are satisfied with your children's behavior, you really don't have to concern yourself with it. However a good many parents have the habit of unwittingly ramping up unwanted behavior with attention, and they are frustrated with the results.   These parents are not being manipulative, I guess, since they are not intentionally causing their kid's behavior problems.  Now if they figure out or learn about the dynamics at play, and they intentionally change their behavior in order to change there kids behavior, they are now being manipulative - is that bad?

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#19 of 27 Old 04-18-2014, 07:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It was a big help in this area when my daughter actually realized that true adults do not have parents or servants running the household, taking care of their bodies, making decisions, etc. It was like a "bolt from the blue" for her. She realized that she could and would be an adult herself one day, and the sooner she got into a more adult program the further along she would be toward being her own person - an adult, also. This is very uplifting for a young child, it's an entirely new horizon for them. Focusing on cleaning up is not as much fun as focusing on watching a movie, making a gourmet meal, taking a walk, or visiting friends. My daughter realized that adults who do these things have quietly privately taken care of the cleaning up and it's a non-issue. That was her goal and it worked well.

 

I think my 7yo is starting to get this.  I know my 4yo thinks adults are people who can do whatever they want.  And if she has the idea that I'm doing whatever I want and she has no choices, it's no wonder she doesn't want to help out.

 

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What happens if you have the clean up time but don't require participation? I don't know how this works with an older child, but it works well for my 4 year old and 2 year old niece when I watch her. I sing a tidying up song and just start to pick up. My DD usually joins in if her own volition, and I'll give her little tasks to do. Sometimes she'll drift between play and clean up, which is fine with me. My niece usually doesn't join in for long, but I expect she will soon. I am okay with picking up the toys a lot of the time because my DD willingly helps me with other tasks. I think the grown up chores just seem more enticing.

 

I will be painfully honest here.  I only wish I were that mature.  I have done that very thing when they were smaller and when there was less of a mess.  Just this morning, I was trying to help with their bedroom, and it didn't go so well.  Maybe because it's their personal space, maybe because I felt like it was a favor, maybe it was the rubber band bracelet kit with all the rubber bands throughout the entire floor, maybe it was the random game pieces all mixed up... but in that situation, I would be happy to help as a team, not to fix it while they watched. 

 

 

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Ah, yes. I think I see what you're saying. We want our kids to do the the right things for the right reasons. We can look at social rewards as a sort of extrinsic motivation and we certainly wouldn't want to create a situation where that was the main motivation...?  Is that what you mean?  

 

This is why reward charts tend to rub me the wrong way.  But I will work on a system to gain privileges.  I think the whole behavioristic approach that is so often used conflicts with integrity.  I don't have a problem with socially rewarding character traits however, since they're a character trait rather than just a behavior.

 

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By 7 it seems like your older child may be able to help with some things that are more interesting to her/him than cleaning toys that would be genuinely helpful to you though. Perhaps your 7 year old could ready the 4 year old for bed, read some books and then get her/himself in bed while you are doing the cleaning (if they decide they can't/won't do that part).  

 

I think that at age 4 certainly and then still a bit by 7 it is a reality that kids helping and finding the pleasure in helping can sometimes feel like a lot of work...but I think the pay-off is worth it. I understand that by 4 & 7 it's starting to feel like you should be able to dictate how they should be helpful but I feel like a few more years of helping them see the bigger picture would be better for you in the long-run. Just like how when they were 2 you didn't limit or force the sort of help you wanted and were patient and understanding that it was a process, yk? 

 

Does that sound like something that could work? 

 

Yes, definitely.  7yo is much more motivated to do grown-up work.  It's barely helpful, but she's learning, and I can deal with that.   My patience and understanding is something I need to work on.

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#20 of 27 Old 04-18-2014, 10:06 AM
 
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My patience and understanding is something I need to work on.

Yes...but this is easier said than done when we're feeling overworked and under appreciated...and there are tiny rubber bands all over the place. :Hug  Can we all agree that those things are totally irritating?  I say we re-direct our frustrations to whoever decided those were a good idea. :laugh

 

In all seriousness, I've totally been where you are. I've noticed that most of my frustrations come from the fact that I know my kids are on the cusp of being ready to take it to the next level of cooperation but not just. This is a really frustrating place to be in. 

 

One more thought about those rubber bands (and things like it). How do you feel about shifting focus away from cleaning up the mess to trying to help your kids figure out how to make smaller ones?  I have been known to dole out small portions of really messy toys. 

 

One more thought, which is less than ideal but better than really tit-for-tat rewards/punishments, what about timing clean-ups to precede things that the kids are motivated to do like go to the park or out for icecream.  Bedtime is a really, really bad time to try to encourage some challenge for my kids. They're just too tired.  But mid-day is a great time to practice consensual living.  ;)

 

On times that they're especially efficient and helpful I wouldn't consider it such a bad idea to mention that because they were so helpful you have time to stop for an extra fun thing.  

 

I may say something like, "Oh, wow, it looks like you guys will be able to clean this mess up by yourselves today. If you can finish up, I'll have time to call your friend to see if she would like to join us at the park. Would you like that?"  


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#21 of 27 Old 04-18-2014, 10:15 AM
 
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The dynamics will be the same whether you intend it or not, attention is rewarding regardless of your intentions.  But if you are satisfied with your children's behavior, you really don't have to concern yourself with it. However a good many parents have the habit of unwittingly ramping up unwanted behavior with attention, and they are frustrated with the results.   These parents are not being manipulative, I guess, since they are not intentionally causing their kid's behavior problems.  Now if they figure out or learn about the dynamics at play, and they intentionally change their behavior in order to change there kids behavior, they are now being manipulative - is that bad?

 

To this I would say that I agree in part. For me what's important is that the response is genuine. If I'm being authentic with my kids and my reaction to something they do happens to enforce behavior that I appreciate - that's awesome. If I start reacting to them regularly in away that is motivated primarily by controlling their behavior, that would not feel good to me. So, I guess I'm somewhere in between. 


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#22 of 27 Old 04-18-2014, 11:08 AM
 
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Wow. Lots to respond.to in this thread, but I can't do it justice from my phone.

I did want to say that its ok to change up your storage solutions to age appropriate levels. You.might have to be creative. What my kids can't handle, they don't have. Rubberband loom.thing is fine for.my.9 year old, but I keep my 5 yo sewing kit. She can have it nearly.anytime she asks.for.it, on the condition she returns it completely.picked up when she is finished.

If their room werent a huge mess, then it wouldn't be any trouble for anyone to clean it up. If they can't handle.it like it is, drop the environment down to a level they can manage. Then, slowly build up the level of responsibility and expectation.

My kids have almost no toys in their room, and everything has a specific place throughout the house. Cleaning up then moves from an abstract thing that ticks.mom off to a concrete and manageable activity.
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#23 of 27 Old 04-18-2014, 11:53 AM
 
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The dynamics will be the same whether you intend it or not, attention is rewarding regardless of your intentions.  But if you are satisfied with your children's behavior, you really don't have to concern yourself with it. However a good many parents have the habit of unwittingly ramping up unwanted behavior with attention, and they are frustrated with the results.   These parents are not being manipulative, I guess, since they are not intentionally causing their kid's behavior problems.  Now if they figure out or learn about the dynamics at play, and they intentionally change their behavior in order to change there kids behavior, they are now being manipulative - is that bad?

 

To this I would say that I agree in part. For me what's important is that the response is genuine. If I'm being authentic with my kids and my reaction to something they do happens to enforce behavior that I appreciate - that's awesome. If I start reacting to them regularly in away that is motivated primarily by controlling their behavior, that would not feel good to me. So, I guess I'm somewhere in between. 

Quoting myself here to say that the more I think about Tadamsmar's statement the more it resonates with me. 

 

I agree 100% that being aware that our children respond positively to our approval is not behaviorism. The reality that we are more likely to do nice things with our kids when we feel supported and appreciated is not behaviorism.   

 

I tend to be a really socially aware person. I tend to be able to predict rather well how my actions will affect others before I take them. That's hard because it forces me to factor that in to my actions and be aware of the potential for manipulation.  

 

But, that doesn't make me any more or less manipulative than the next person, yk?  If I am choosing an authentic reaction with the awareness that the outcome will be desirable, that is not manipulative. 


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#24 of 27 Old 04-19-2014, 06:31 AM
 
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Social behavior is and isn't "manipulative" - no more than than using a primitive tool to obtain food, for example. I don't think ICM is manipulative in any wrong or bad way at all. We all manipulate the environment and our assessments and behavior in order to ease mutually beneficial relations. Throwing a birthday party to please your mother could be considered "manipulative" - you are hoping to elicit a response of pleasure from her, which is a joyful thing.

 

For me personally, and I did parent with this mindset: there should be in at least equal measure the ability to know one's own mind and help oneself without social support or even in the face of social opposition. The OP was very astute in recognizing that her 4yo thinks that adults can do whatever they want, and so there is no concept of "benefit" to her for helping. She may only be willing to do in a relationship what will provide immediate positive reward for her - completely natural at her age! Unfortunately, this mindset can persist in people through teen years and into adulthood. It's an easy habit to fall into especially since our relationships have become more structured in modern society. It's easy to see only limited options if you can only understand a prompt positive social response; it affects who people marry (someone "safe," someone "challenging," someone from another culture, no one, etc) what career and community aspirations they have, etc. In the worst case in a person is rather helpless and a true "pleaser" in the negative sense as ICM said earlier. The far end of the spectrum is someone who is actually somewhat sociopathic and a manipulator in the worst sense. Bringing out the best attributes in our kids is obviously the goal, so a confident loving child; someone with a sense of personal authority who is kind and loving and enjoys relationships.

 

Something that has been mentioned in the thread is how overworked and underappreciated the primary caregiver (mom, in this case) truly is. I like FisherFamily's approach - make it easy for all. (For now that all is mostly you.) Primary caregivers are in an awe-ful position, and being at the end of your chain with fatigue in every sense is part of it. Honestly, I think we should learn to bear it as well as we can. It's a lifetime commitment of awe-some proportions. Who knows what can happen in our family lives and we should count our blessings and give from our hearts. Your kids will see that, and hopefully respond. This is what I meant earlier about being careful not to exercise too many social contracts within the family. Gifts of self are the bonds of family. So you can provide a structure that looks like a social reward or contract (privilege charts) to teach the child something, but you yourself have to act in the giving mode of patience, example, encouragement, and understand that having the strength, love, and discipline to do it is the model for how the best social contracts (love and respect) really work. Tough to practice, but worth thinking about at least.


I only wanted to augment others said, we are all on track, I think, even the post about what you pay attention to will manifest in behavior.

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#25 of 27 Old 04-19-2014, 06:45 AM
 
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Yes!  

 

I think you are describing what I would call "unconditional parenting", which is the core of my values for the base-line of how I want my kids to feel loved - unconditionally. I guess I would say that I think there are two (at least) levels of relating to our kids. There is the one level, which is unconditional. That they know they are loved no-matter-what. Then there is the day-by-day, in which they are made aware of how their actions affect others.  

 

I see something like reward charts, punishments, and bribes as sort of intrinsically externally motivating whereas social rewards are somewhat neutral in that they are an authentic "natural" consequence which, yes, can be used or interpreted as an external reward.  

 

If that makes sense. :love


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#26 of 27 Old 04-20-2014, 02:32 AM
 
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I think that's a good way to look at it.  Social rewards are natural consequences in the kind of society the parent wants to promote.

 

The Native Americans did not spank. They thought the European settlers were barbaric for beating their kids.  But the Native Americans had ceremonies for honoring the growth of their children's character.  I think one of the problems we have had in the US is that we gave up spanking  in the last few decaces, but we did not introduce more honoring of behavior that indicated maturity and growth of character.

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#27 of 27 Old 04-23-2014, 07:44 AM
 
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^ Yeah :)

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