SOP'ers- how to start kids cleaning up? - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-08-2007, 02:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ds is 3. I've never made him help me clean up toys, but ask for his help sometimes. He sometimes helps (he also helps with other things too, when I ask- taking dishes to the sink, getting a cloth, etc).

But I want to take it a step further, and have him clean up toys more frequently. For example, when he has a puzzle out (or something else that could get lost or damaged), I'd like him to at least help pick it up before moving on to something else.

The question is- how do I initiate this change? I've started doing the SOP thing: Please help clean this up, here's why, etc.
It's only been a couple times, but he's refused both times. (these are different situations from what I've had him help me with before. I don't usually ask him to help clean up when there is something else he wants to do). I've told him I expected him to help, and now I have to do it by myself.
I think I also said that it's not ok to refuse to help pick up his toys. That part doesn't sound right though- it's not something I want to keep saying. It just came out.

Should I change what I'm saying? Is that SOP? How do I express this to him?

Do I just keep doing this, even if he keeps refusing?

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Old 09-08-2007, 04:49 PM
 
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Mine refuses too!
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Old 09-08-2007, 06:29 PM
 
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What does SOP stand for?
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Old 09-08-2007, 06:29 PM
 
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I have a couple of thoughts- One is to make it fun. There was an article a couple of issues back in Mothering about making up games for getting jobs done. Another thought is to explain that in your family there are jobs that need to get done and as a family it is expected that everyone helps out- it's just part of being a family. Another foundation of gaining cooperation is to make sure that work comes first, then fun. "Great you want to go outside! We just need to clean up this activity and we'll be all set to go outside." "Oh, I love that puzzle too. I'd love to help you with it just as soon as we clean up these dress up clothes." I have also found that my kids are much better at cleaning up when we don't have so many toys available and those we do have out are well organized. We keep lots of toys in the attic and rotate them out. The toys we have out are in baskets-one for cars, one for guys, one for musical instruments, etc. I also feel it's important not to interrupt good play. If my kids move onto another activity without much fuss or transition then I let it roll. Then we do the clean up before bedtime stories or something else they're looking forward to- work first! I hope these ideas help.
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Old 09-08-2007, 06:51 PM
 
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SOP=secret of parenting by Anthony Wolfe

I think the SOP methods would be one of the two following examples

-> You say "Son, please pick up a specified toy, or specified assortment of toys"

-> son doesn't do it

-> You get down and do it, and say "Son, I asked you to pick up these specified things and you didn't do it, now I'm doing it. I expect you to pick up the things I ask you to pick up next time"

Whenever I do this, Emma scrambles to help me.

The other way would be the bus stop wait, but that one rarely works for me yet, Emma is just about to turn 4. I think that might work better when she's a bit bigger.
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Old 09-08-2007, 07:42 PM
 
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is SOP, Secret of Parenting by Anthony Wolfe? try Maya44 -- she's the expert on Wolfe. i don't know if she hangs out in this forum or not, but maybe if we call her out she'll come...

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Old 09-08-2007, 09:58 PM
 
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I don't know about the SOP method, but I'm going to throw a lot of random thoughts at you and maybe one or two will strike a chord for you!!

I find my kids are usually happy to help me clean up if it means spending time with me and working together. So I use a lot of "You do this and I'll do that," type language. I also tend to be very positive about cleaning up -- smiling, singing, and attempting never to complain about it.

I think it also helps to use "When, then..." language. Cheerfully. Non-threateningly. Like, "When the puzzle is cleaned up, we can take out the legos!" The idea is to communicate that cleaning up is part of the normal flow of the day -- something we have to do in order to get to the next good thing.

Also, pointing out problems as you see them, descriptively -- and asking for what you want. "Oopsie! I see that you are playing with legos now, but your puzzle is still on the floor. Maybe you forgot, but we need to get that picked up. Come give me a hand and it will be done in no time."

Very often, I find it helps to give directions matter of factly, as if there is no doubt in your mind that he will comply. I swear, my kids can hear it in my voice if there is room to refuse. "Come on -- help me pick this up, now please..." Turn your back, and start cleaning up. Your body language should communicate that you fully expect cooperation.

Lighthearted competition can help too, though with some very competitive kids, it can backfire. "I have cleaned up 6 peices of this puzzle. How many have you cleaned up?" Or "Lets race." Or, if you don't want to compete -- try to beat a timer or use a stop watch to time him.
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Old 09-08-2007, 10:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Soundhunter View Post
SOP=secret of parenting by Anthony Wolfe

I think the SOP methods would be one of the two following examples

-> You say "Son, please pick up a specified toy, or specified assortment of toys"

-> son doesn't do it

-> You get down and do it, and say "Son, I asked you to pick up these specified things and you didn't do it, now I'm doing it. I expect you to pick up the things I ask you to pick up next time"

Whenever I do this, Emma scrambles to help me.

The other way would be the bus stop wait, but that one rarely works for me yet, Emma is just about to turn 4. I think that might work better when she's a bit bigger.
Woah, if it were me I'd be thinking "Good! I dont have to do it because mom is doing it for me."
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Old 09-08-2007, 10:15 PM
 
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I'm trying this too. I have never been able to do the "finish this, and then we'll get out this", so I just try to do it once a day. I divided all the toys into four big plastic bins, and rotate them every few weeks. So there aren't really that many toys and we can quickly throw them in every night.

So far, I've noticed that it has to be a habit. When we're doing it every day, it's really easy to get them to help. But when we're out of the habit, then they feel overwhelmed, don't know what to do, and just usually run off. Anyway, my two cents!

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Old 09-08-2007, 10:19 PM
 
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I've never read SOP but here is what works for me.

I never have more toys on her low shelves than she can deal with on her own. That is part of the secret. Box up the rest and rotate them around. But don't have so many accessible that the child feels overwhelmed maintaining her shelf of stuff.

I tell my 3 year old when it is time to clean up. She pulls the ol' "But I'm still playing!" and I tell her "That's fine. But it is time for everyone to clean up, so clean up, and then take out the one you want again when clean up time is done."

I want clean up to just be a part of life -- like going to bathroom, or brushing teeth, or dinner time. When it is time, it is just time and everyone does their bit. I expect her to man the toy front, and I whip out the broom to do a house sweep.

If DD drags her feet I tell her, "If toys are left on the floor, that tells me they are not important to you. If they are not important, I think they are trash. I'm coming with the broom in 5 minutes."

5 min later I show up with a trash bag and a broom. If she's working on it, I say "I see you are working on it. That tells me these things are important to you. So I will go sweep the bathroom first and then come back."

If she's not working on it I just announce "Mommy is cleaning your room!" and start bagging toys. (Usually things I don't care about like grocery store balloons, Happy Meal toys, party favors, etc. first. Then toys I feel she's outgrowing for donations.) That lights a fire under her!

She didn't believe me at first and chose to not do her share. I really did sweep up anything on the floor and put it in a trash bag. She cried and I told her I was sorry she felt sad, but that was a consequence of her choice: You clean and show me it is important. You leave it on the floor and Mommy thinks it is trash. IT IS UP TO YOU.

(Later I sorted the ones for donations out, some that were truly trash, and some things like missing game pieces I discreetly returned to their boxes).

I am dead serious when I say I will get rid of things that are left all crazy on the floor.

I've explained how we show respect for the house and for each other by putting things where they belong.

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Old 09-08-2007, 11:14 PM
 
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Woah, if it were me I'd be thinking "Good! I dont have to do it because mom is doing it for me."
Most people would feel uncomfortable, if the exchange went like that. It works with my DD every time, though I don't use it very often, just when the mess is really overwhelming me.
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Old 09-08-2007, 11:47 PM
 
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Woah, if it were me I'd be thinking "Good! I dont have to do it because mom is doing it for me."
My oldest would be like "thanks for getting that for me mom" That approach would not be beneficial to her at all.

our basic policy is if I get to clean it up I get to decide what happens to it. some things get thrown away/given away, some get put on "by permission only" status (most of our games and puzzles are there) and some just get put away with a reminder that we pick stuff up when we are done with it or when the day is over unless they have permission to leave it out.

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Old 09-09-2007, 01:00 AM
 
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clairification on my last post:

My mom was major OCD (which is a totally differnt situation than the poster who said she would do the helping her dc to pick up) and my mom was always picking up after everyone-but she would loudly complain about it, and when we tried to help or do it ourselves-she always told us we were doing it wrong-or had something mean to say.

Just in case I came across rudely or anything....cause my situation was so disfunctional growing up-and I remember thinking "Good, I dont have to do it!!!" at some point in my life.
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Old 09-09-2007, 02:10 AM
 
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I've never heard of SOP but at playgroup one of the moms just starts singing a song "cleanup, cleanup...let's cleanup..." or something like that and the kids get all excited. The older ones sometimes help so I think it works because she makes it fun.

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Old 09-09-2007, 02:27 AM
 
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I use the let's put this away so we can do this approach too, and it usually works pretty well with my oldest, and my 2 year old just wants to do whatever her big brother is doing, so that works too. I also tell him sometimes that if mommy has to put it away, it will stay put away for awhile because obviously he is not taking good care of it.

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Old 09-09-2007, 03:39 AM
 
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I've never heard of SOP but at playgroup one of the moms just starts singing a song "cleanup, cleanup...let's cleanup..." or something like that and the kids get all excited. The older ones sometimes help so I think it works because she makes it fun.

The "clean up, clean up" song usually works at our house. We also (sometimes) turn it into a game to see who can pick up toys the fastest, who can make a 'basket' with the blocks, who can find the red (or whatever color) crayon and get it in the box... you get the idea...we try to make it fun. We also make up silly songs of our own for different activities. (even the not so fun ones like cleaning up.) Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. For the most part our little people love to 'help' do everything around the house so helping put toys away some days is big fun for them!
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Old 09-09-2007, 04:32 AM
 
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is SOP, Secret of Parenting by Anthony Wolfe? try Maya44 -- she's the expert on Wolfe. i don't know if she hangs out in this forum or not, but maybe if we call her out she'll come...

Maya? Maya 44? oh Maaaayyyyyyyaaaaa!

Hey!

Well 3 is kind of young for most SOP stuff. I think most of his stuff starts around age 4.

I think at 3 many kids are just not ready to do much helping. That does not mean you should not ask for help. I would. I just would wait for awhile to do anything about their refusal to help, even the "I expect you to help next time thing."
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Old 09-09-2007, 05:01 AM
 
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I'd hand him a puzzle piece and ask him to put it in the box. Then I'd do one. Then hand him another. With our kids, this works 90% of the time. Doing it together, rather than alone has been much more effective.

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Old 09-09-2007, 10:28 AM
 
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What has worked for us is that DS cleans up toys while I'm doing the dinner dishes. When we're both done, we have some desert. He wants his desert so he's motivated to do a thorough, quick job. I think we've been doing it this way since he was about 3.
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Old 09-09-2007, 10:33 AM
 
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What has worked for us is that DS cleans up toys while I'm doing the dinner dishes. When we're both done, we have some desert. He wants his desert so he's motivated to do a thorough, quick job. I think we've been doing it this way since he was about 3.
Wow this is fantastic-you are setting a fabulous example! Your ds gets to see you working hard, and you get to work side by side (so to speak) IMO, that is special time together! At my house I fall into not doing chores at all, or else doing them while dc watch TV or are in another room, and those things dont work well to teach!!
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Old 09-09-2007, 11:06 AM
 
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Hey!
hey, it worked! i called loud enough and she came...

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Old 09-09-2007, 11:50 AM
 
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What has worked for us is that DS cleans up toys while I'm doing the dinner dishes. When we're both done, we have some desert. He wants his desert so he's motivated to do a thorough, quick job. I think we've been doing it this way since he was about 3.
I wish I were that organized. What a good routine you have going!!!!
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Old 09-09-2007, 01:13 PM
 
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I think it's sad if we DON'T expect a 3 year old to help! It's funny that we say "oh a three year old can't do that" when most 2 year olds want to help their parents! At least all the twos and threes around here where we work always want to help mommas. Cleaning, whiping, etc. It obviously isn't up to adult standards, but it definately sets the stage for good habits down the road.

I think all this advice is great- make it fun and make it just part of "what we do" as a family. And make it a habit! Your child's future spouse will thank you, haha!

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Old 09-09-2007, 01:28 PM
 
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I'm a nanny, and we do loads of cleaning up. The best thing IMO is rotation of the toys, and keeping baskets (possibly even with tags naming the contents with a picture) low to the ground.

Nearing the end of the day, I would it clear in 10 minutes we are all going to clean up together, so finish what you are playing with now, or find a safe place for it.

After the ten minutes we would sing the "clean up song" which is very boring in my eyes, but we would make it fun.
"Clean up, Clean up, everybody everywhere, clean up, clean up, do you share"

The older child (5) and I made rhyming games, like Clean up, clean up, eat your pear, for ex. Giggles all around.

I would always help the clean up, and when it is nearly done (they had loads of toys), I would say, Okay, I'm going to get the vaccum now, and anything left might get sucked up!!!

This always worked with little complaint for all three children, 16 months, 22 months and 5 years (children from 2 families).

I little ones loved helping out even if nothing got cleaned on their part. But they were expected to be in the same room and 'help clean'.

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Old 09-10-2007, 02:38 PM
 
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DD is 3.5 and the SOP technique actually really does work for her, and has since she was about 2.5. I admit that I play it up a bit, like, "Okay, I guess I have to do this all by myself. I sure wish I had someone to help me."

We also do use when-then. I find that I look for natural points in the day to clean up, like when she's about to eat or we're about to go outside, rather than enforcing an "It's been out for X period of time" rule.

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Old 09-10-2007, 02:50 PM
 
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Both my kids at 3 liked picking up. They liked doing what I was doing. At 3, I don't have any problem picking up for them and putting things back where. At 6, we work together on it.

My 3 year old reminded me to put my coffee cup in the sink when I was done this mornig.
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Old 09-10-2007, 03:08 PM
 
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I think it's sad if we DON'T expect a 3 year old to help! It's funny that we say "oh a three year old can't do that" when most 2 year olds want to help their parents! !

When my 4 year old was young, well meaning people would tell me that I should teach him how to clean up and i was like "He cant do that! He is too little!"

Now I sit in awe of my 20 month old as she is my little housekeeper. I am kicking myself in the butt for not taking advantage of those teachable moments when ds was little! Oh well, we live-we learn.
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Old 09-10-2007, 03:54 PM
 
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I would say 3 is not to young to clean up. But 3 is too young to be trying to "make" clean up. They really do get it as they get older if you go out of your way to include them in your day.

Cleaning up and cooking and living and learning all happen at our house together and separately. At 3, modeling goes a long way and I don't see a need to get into a power struggle with a toddler who isn't there yet.

The advantage I see of the SOP approach as discussed here (not a huge Wolfe fan myself) is that it avoids a power struggles and threatening people.

A nice book to read around this age, even though we are not exactly Waldorf is "You are your child's first teacher."
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Old 09-10-2007, 07:27 PM
 
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And make it a habit! Your child's future spouse will thank you, haha!
OMG you're not even kidding! DH thinks he deserves a blue ribbon anytime he does anything around the house. When he cooks or bakes something, which is like 1% of the time, he makes a huge mess and expects me to clean it up since he did all the work cooking. One time my MIL was fondly tellling me how when her boys were little she would have them help bake and she would always clean up after them. It was her way to get them to help her bake. I wanted to choke her when she told me that

(sorry, mini vent)

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Old 09-11-2007, 03:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Lots of good ideas here! I'll try to absorb it all and include some of this stuff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Soundhunter View Post
-> You say "Son, please pick up a specified toy, or specified assortment of toys"

-> son doesn't do it

-> You get down and do it, and say "Son, I asked you to pick up these specified things and you didn't do it, now I'm doing it. I expect you to pick up the things I ask you to pick up next time"
Thanks, that's what I was looking for- a script like that.

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Originally Posted by maya44 View Post
Hey!

Well 3 is kind of young for most SOP stuff. I think most of his stuff starts around age 4.

I think at 3 many kids are just not ready to do much helping. That does not mean you should not ask for help. I would. I just would wait for awhile to do anything about their refusal to help, even the "I expect you to help next time thing."
(I was hoping you'd post!)

I know that SOP has come in REALLY handy for us a few times. I'm not a hardcore SOP'er (I'm not hardcore anything. I'm way to laid back for that! lol) but the times that I've used it, it's been a godsend! Of course, I think the *main* benefit is that it forces ME to keep MY cool.
It keeps me out of that power struggle that seems to creep in naturally for me. (ie- I ask him to help, then I feel compelled to MAKE him help.) I hate that it's such an "instinct" for me.

Hmmm...maybe I could just say "I asked you to help, and if you don't I have to do it by myself. I'd really like for you to help me out" and not include the line about expecting help next time.

I like the lines about being a family and working together- I'll have to figure out a way to say it that sounds natural for me. He already knows that having a big mess of toys bothers me, and that it's easier to find stuff with toys picked up.

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