C.L. asks from Chandler, AZ on March 30, 2008
9Yo WONT Pick Up
This has been an ongoing thing forever, almost. When she was like 2 I could get her to pick up with my guidance. But, since she was about 4 it's been impossible. I've been in the room with her to help her put things away, or tell her where they go. I've tried the whole item thing where you ask them to pick up their clothes, then once that is done move on to a different item. We've tried time outs, restrictions, throwing everything away while cleaning it ourselves, and more. My husband is constantly yelling at her now about her room, and instead of anything getting better, it's just getting worse. Now, it's in the rest of the house. She doesn't pick up her dishes when she gets done using them (despite the fact that she knows how to rinse her dishes and put them in the dishwasher, I usually have to redo the rinsing when she actually does, but that's fine). She leaves crumbs everywhere after making a sandwich, leaves shoes and clothes all over the house. She gets in trouble and is reminded constantly to pick up things. I'm constantly going around the house saying; "Where does your sock go?" "Your back pack is on the floor" "You need to put your dishes away or clean up your juice mess" "Your shoes go in the garage, not in the middle of the floor". My husband and I rarely have anything to fight about, but my oldest daughter seems to be causing a lot of tension in the whole house by not doing what she is supposed to. She wants to spend more time with dad at the park and other things, but he doesn't feel compelled to do anything with her till she at LEAST gets her room clean. Any help/suggestions? It's not just her stuff in her room, she sneeks food in (even though she's not supposed to eat any where except the kitchen) and leaves the dishes in there. If she uses an ice pack or something, then the towel and ice pack stay, everything ends up in her room some how.
So What Happened?™
All of your advise seems very helpful. Some of the things mentioned I have tried in the past, but some of you came up with new things. So, I'll try those as well. I actually got very frustrated late last night (after she went to bed), because I went to go start making fondant icing for a cake I was making and my main ingredient (marshmallows) was gone. The whole bag was gone form its hiding place, and of course I find the empty bag in her room. Just makes me want to scream. But I don't. I've told her before to stay out of the marshmallows, she just wont respect the boundaries. Any how, like I said I'll try some of the things mentioned for a while on each one and see what plays out if anything.
C.C. answers from Flagstaff on March 31, 2008
My almost 9 year old does the same thing. She just dumps things (her shoes, backpack, dishes, etc.) wherever she is at that moment, and cleaning up is her least favorite thing to do. She tells me, "I'm just not a neat person, Mom." We thought it was also important for our daughter to learn about money, so we tied her chores to her allowance. We put a certain number of quarters in a bowl at the beginning of the week, and she loses quarters (or more) if she doesn't pick things up. This made a big difference to her, because she loves Claire's in the mall. Sometimes she will set a goal of something she wants to buy, and that helps to motivate her to earn all of her allowance. Finding something that is important to your daughter can make a difference.
Also, I feel that children have to be allowed to make their own choices. My daughter often chooses not to keep her room clean, and I can't force her to clean it. She is going to keep things the way she wants, and she is trying to assert some independence and her own style by doing so. The consequence is that I never pick up her dirty clothes off the floor, and I only wash what's in the basket. Also, she knows she can't play with friends if her room isn't clean, so it gets cleaned once in a while.
You should set a limit when it comes to the rest of the house. She should not be allowed to leave messes in the shared living space of the home. That is a must, for it affects your sanity. You can shut the door to her bedroom if you must.
We must remember that they are only 9, and can't be expected to be adults yet. Since she is your oldest, you have high expectations for her. Allow her some room to be a kid sometimes. Remember that 9 year olds make messes soemtimes. We can't expect them to be perfect, especially since we are not.
Last, sit down with your husband and have a long conversation about this. Decide together how to deal with it. I was having similar tension for a while with my husband always yelling at my daughter about her room, until we both decided that we could let it go. It's not worth ruining your relationship with your daughter. The tween years are difficult enough without having a strained relationship with your parents to top things off.
Best of luck to you.
T.N. answers from Phoenix on March 31, 2008
I'm a member of www.FLYlady.com, which really helps me keep my house clean and keep routines and have a healthy attitude towards it all. It's geared towards adults getting their homes and lives in order, but she provides a "control journal" for children to keep track of their homework, chores, etc, on their own without their parents nagging, which might really help. Kids (and husbands!) automatically resist us when we're telling them what to do, even if it's for their own good. The student control journal helps them stay organized and establish routines. Here's the link to the control journal: http://www.flylady.net/images/student_CJ.pdf#search=%22st...
Also check out her homepage flylady.net Her systems might really help you find peace in your own life like it did for me.
Flylady is an advocate of her colleague's website, www.housefairy.org, which is a website to help motivate and encourage children to clean their rooms. On the website there's a video of The Housefairy where she talks to your kids and tells them she's going to stop by unexpectedly every once in awhile and check on their rooms and see if they've been cleaning it like their parents have asked and leave little notes and rewards if they have. It also helps give you ideas on how to make a game out of cleaning, and turn it into a positive experience so they can develop good habits for life. I've looked over this website and read parents' experiences with it, and I definitely plan on using it when my son is old enough to understand. Praise and rewards are usually bigger incentives than punishment, and much more positive and help their self-esteem. In fact, while studying for his Master's in Business, my husband learned that people performed better with the incentive of receiving recognition and praise than they did with the motivation of monetary rewards in the workplace. You can plan family activities as rewards, doing what she wants, which she most likely prefers over material things, plus it sends a better message. The housefairy.org website has a LONG list of incentive ideas, posted by other parents.
Good luck! Be firm and make sure there are consequences, both positive and negative, for their behavior. Consistency pays off. I am a BIG advocate of the Love and Logic parenting style of letting your children suffer the natural consequences of their choices and enforcing limits, but doing so in a loving, empathetic way. Love and Logic also stresses the importance of reinforcing a warm parent/child relationship by being involved and spending time together. They offer awesome parenting classes that I strongly encourage taking (www.keriparentcoach.com is their excellent local instructor here in AZ), have some great books ("Parenting with Love and Logic"), and DVDs and CDs. Check them out at the library or purchase at www.loveandlogic.com When I attended the parenting classes it became apparent that this approach to parenting is very similar to how I was raised, and I really appreciate my upbringing and always had a fantastic relationship with my mom, even during my teenage years. My mom recommends "The Parents Handbook," by Don Dinkmeyer, also known as the Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP) Handbook. Also, "For the Love of Children" is great.
L.R. answers from Phoenix on March 31, 2008
Maybe she is looking for attention. Even negative attention works because it is meeting the need. Does she feel like she is good enough? Does she have confidence in choices she makes? Does she go along with the crowd or have opinions of her own? Does she feel like she is liked/loved at school and especially at home? Of course we all love our kids but sometimes they just don't feel we do or they don't feel like they are "enough". Let me explain. My (at the time 5yo) son started a nervous twitch -that's what we called it anyway. We asked his teacher at school and she hadn't noticed anything. Time went by and we talked to him about it and he conciously make an effort to stop and he did...but it came back. We heard it could have something to do with seizures and were getting ready to make an appt with the doctor when I come across something in a book I was reading. A child who doesn't feel like they are "enough" not only can have low self esteem but it can manifest itself in physical ways. I knew I needed a better relationship with my son but his dad has a great relationship with him so I thought it balanced out. The book talked about treating people with respect and love. We all can tell if we are insincerely patient (fake) or being genuinely kind. I could say, "Pick up your socks, please" -polite, right? But he could tell I was really saying "Gees, why can't you just take care of your stuff? What is wrong with you? How lazy can you be? Just be obedient." -etc... When I realized although I was saying polite sentences, my manner and tone told him he was not "enough". You can imagine my horror-I was provoking my child's twitch and! I changed my manner and tone (takes work) and I even told him I had some bad habits I needed to work on and my child lost his twitch. It was almost instantly. Now I know when I am treating him "less than" or that he isn't "enough". I guess I had to have it spelled out for me that my son deserves respect as an person, and I wasn't giving it to him, consciously and unconsciously. I needed to have a relationship with him other than commander. I knew he didn't like being told what to do all the time and if I was spending all that time reminding him of all the things he wasn't doing I was also not using any of that time talking about his day or his interests. He now comes and tells me about things that happened at school or about his friends and he never did that before.
I am not sure this helps but it was such an eye opener for me on being more sensitive to the needs of my child, I couldn't help but pass it along.
G.P. answers from Phoenix on March 31, 2008
I have a 10 year old that doesn't clean her room or when she does it dirty the next day.Her chores are her room and the kitchen and she does the kitchen half way and her room she says it's her 4 year old sister mess when I am teaching our 4 year old to pick up her stuff and our 10 year old doesn't.So I hear you and what you are going though.
K.C. answers from Provo on March 31, 2008
Girlfriend - it sounds like ADD to me. My daughter did a lot of the same things that yours is doing. The swings between competence and noncompetence are enough to drive a mom vertical to the wall. But if you look at it in terms of focus/unfocus, well, it helps to explain a lot.
I read "Driven to Distraction", a book about ADD that describes the behaviors, thinking to myself, "Whatever! No no one is medicating MY kid," and ended up about highlighting the whole darned thing. "YES! YES! She does that TOO! I never really thought about that, but YES!" Now she's on meds, I have a better understanding of her limitations, and we are all a lot happier.
If you choose to go that route, hang on, it will sound nuts, but you see a child psychologist first, to get their take on the situation, and if so (they told me, MAN your kid is a CLASSIC case!), then you see a child psychiatrist - they are allowed to dispense medication.
Sounds scary at first, but I will tell you, it is SO WORTH it! Well, if that's what she has. Good luck!
L.B. answers from Phoenix on March 31, 2008
C., this sounds like a total lack of respect for both you and your huband. I've raised 2 independent children and having respect for parents and home were key in ensuring thier success in the future. I would approach this issue with a loving talk on how disrespectful she is acting towards her family and her home. She needs to understand that it's everyone's job in the home to keep it up and she is not the exception to the rule. Setting strong guidelines of responsibilty and expectations of her role in the home may help. Offering rewards for completing tasks assigned only after she has been consistent for a month or more may also work. If you and your husband continue to do for her she will continue to disrespect you. Bottom line in 10 years or less she will be out on her own and she needs to know that chores are a big part of life and will impact her living conditions far in to her own future. Girls tend to be a bit messy when they are young, if her room is her own space don't be so hard on her to keep it clean but she needs to know the rest of the house is not her personal space and she must obey the rules of cleaning up after herself in all other areas of the home. Best of luck to you.
K.K. answers from Phoenix on March 30, 2008
Initially it sounds like lack of respect to the parents and lack of respect of the family. Maybe a discussion with her about how important being part of the family is and that we can show how we care about being in the family by cleaning up our messes, etc... It's a slightly different approach than yelling and screaming/restriction/etc... especially since it seems these techniques haven't worked. Maybe also ask her why she doesn't clean up? She is old enough now that she should be able to answer sincerely- I don't want to, it doesn't matter to me, because you will do it for me, etc... and maybe her answer will create a solution for you. Good luck and peace be with you.
S.A. answers from Phoenix on March 31, 2008
Don't give up. I am a mother of 2 and have 3 live in boys that are all to say the least stuborn. I was having the same issues only my youngest did not like all the yelling so he would start cleaning up after his brother. My husband and I decided that this was really unfair. We started to just not tell my obstinate son anything. We decided that we would wait until he asked to do something or wanted to go somewhere or just wanted us to buy something for him then tell him "sorry that is not an option since you can not take care of the things we ask you to do we can not do what you want to do" This worked for a while and then he wanted to push even further so we decided that the food in the room was to extreme so we took the door off his room. That took care of that. I hope these suggestion help I know it is hard but hang in there.
Stick to what you say!