Friday, December 12, 2008

Teaching the kids right

The piles of little messes all over. The little one's habit of going into other people's private possessions. We're so very sick of it all. It has to stop. The trouble is, how? We try, but the follow-through is weak. Signs on the doors and walls? I don't know.

I do know that I am often tempted to simply box up most of their possessions. That Flylady story about the fed-up mom who boxed up all her son's toys except a few Matchbox cars and some crayons and papers comes to mind. He became a changed kid, thanks to fewer toys. Thanks to less chaos in his life.

The thinking cap is on.


Monica said...

I enjoyed that Flylady testimonial too. I don't think I could do anything that drastic. Over the last 6 months, we've gradually downsized the kids' possessions and they are much happier with less and it's easier to keep their rooms clean. It's something we constantly try to keep in balance. It's not easy.

Anonymous said...

Can she open drawers and doors that have the child-safety catch on it? kcn

Jay Bazuzi said...

I basically apply the same rule to my kids' stuff as I do to my own: if we can't keep it in order, we can't keep it.

When my kids can't keep up with their toys, either because they're busy or not interested in cleaning, I offer to clean up for them, but put the toys away in the garage. This relieves them & me of the burden.

If they still can't keep up with it, I put more away. If they say they are ready to take on more responsibility, I bring another box of toys out.

If I wait too long, I get frustrated and do it in anger, but really there's no reason to think I'm denying them anything. When they only have a few toys, they enjoy them more and don't have the stress of clutter. When a toy comes back in to rotation, they are excited & interested in it again.

Everyone wins.

Jay Bazuzi said...

Do you have a link to the Fly Lady story? Seems like something I'd link from your posti.

paisley penguin said...

I'm glad my kids are older now (14 & 13) and their possessions consist of books for my SD it's beading supplies and for my SS it's his guitar stuff.

I years past I do remember bagging stuff up in a garbage bag and putting it in the storage unit. If they didn't ask about it for a while I would bring it out and see if they still wanted it. More often than not it was no.

Millionaire Mommy Next Door said...

My mom came up with a brilliant system: If she had to pick up our things, she put them in a box and it cost us 25 cents per item to get them back out. She said it was to compensate her for her picking-up time. Worked like a charm!

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Thank you and happy holidays,

Somena Woman said...

This is a tough one allright. One thing that has always helped with both my boys when it comes to this issue is that property rights are inviolate in our house. Same thing goes with privacy rights. That means that their stuff is their stuff. Our stuff is our stuff. Nobody gets to mess with other people's stuff. (see caveat below re common areas)If my son did not want to share his stuff - he was never forced to. He had absolute control over his stuff. What was amazing was that he has always been a very generous little guy. Because he has always felt secure that what he owns belongs to him will never be taken away - he wants to give to others - he feels secure and enjoys letting others enjoy his stuff. I know that sounds totally contrary to the whole "You have to learn to share" idea that is so heavily promoted by many educators. And it is true - when we are at the park, or a play place where things ARE actually for everybody - then of course we make sure that the kids share and don't keep one toy to themselves forever if other kids want to use it. But at home - everybody's bedroom and their stuff is strictly enforced.

The only time I have taken away any of the kids stuff has been if they used it to be destructive of somebody elses property - or to hit somebody with it or something extreme like that. (again - caveat re common areas below)

I was a snoopy little kids once. I figured out why. In addition to having absolutely no expectation that I had control over my room or my stuff... that it could all be taken away on a capricious whim by my parents -- AND that I myself had no reasonable expectation of privacy - my parents never felt like they had to knock on our doors and my parents regularly snooped in my room... (which I kept messy to thwart them from snooping) I did not respect other people's boundaries because nobody respected mine. I dont know if that is what's going on with your little one... I only know that it was what caused problems for me.

Here is the rule that has really helped us. Common areas of the house are kept free of everybody's clutter. Nobody is forced to deal with other people's messes. If you want a mess in your room - where nobody else has to deal with it - then that's fine. But if stuff is left in the common rooms - like kitchen, bathroom, living room - and other people have to step over it - or it inconviences others to deal with it - then away it goes.
And everybody has the same rights in this respect. My kids don't have to deal with my mess. I don't have to deal with theirs. Maybe I've just got strange kids -- but it's never been a problem for me to get my little fellas to keep their stuff in it's place. In fact - with my 3 year old, so long as I make great sound effects when he is tossing his stuff into his toybox each night - he will happily pick up everything. And my little guy particularly loves to help mommy clean. If I give him a cloth, or a whisk he loves it. Sometimes it isn't all that helpful - but I don't ever want to discourage him from wanting to help clean.