MOTIVATING YOUR CHILD TO CLEAN UP
Children do not clean up and put away things on their own. It is a learning process that takes time, patience, and perseverance. Yelling might work temporarily, but in the long term it is ineffective as children become resistant and build resentment toward their parents. Instead, using firm requests while encouraging your children may lead them to be more cooperative. Like adults, children appreciate being treated with respect and good manners. The more parents understand and apply these concepts, the more children will grow into more responsive and responsible adults.
Here are a few strategies to help you motivate your child to clean up:
1. Set a good example. It may seem obvious, but you need to be consistent between your expectations and your own behavior. If your house is not tidy, do not expect your child to put away her toys. By showing your child that you take care of your belongings, it will send her the right message.
2. Ask for one thing at a time. If you give your child multiple reminders at once, chances are she will forget at least half of it. Instead, focus on one aspect you want to be achieved. Once done, praise her and then ask for something else. For instance, say to your child “Please put your homework folder in your backpack” Then, when she is done, tell her “Thank you for doing this. Now, can you put your dirty clothes in the hamper?”
3. Use a positive and encouraging voice. It might be difficult to keep your frustration out of your voice, but if you do not, your child will perceive it and will probably not comply. Instead, take a few deep breaths before speaking and think about how to formulate your request. It is best to say, “Please remember to pack your lunch box.” instead of “Unlike yesterday, do not forget to pack your lunch box.”
4. Get your child’s attention. This means moving close to your child and not yell a prompt from the bathroom while your child is in her bedroom. It also means making eye contact. If you have a young child, do not hesitate to kneel to be at her level. If your child is older, they need to stop texting or playing a video game before being able to hear you.
5. Let your child choose where her toys belong. If you let your child be part of the process by giving her options, then she will more likely to want to put things away. So, let her be involved in the decision as to where put her things.
As long as you have children at home, you may need to give up having a spotless house, but tidy can be an attainable goal. With persistence, encouragement, and a few consistent rules, your child can learn how to clean up.
DEVELOPING EFFECTIVE PARENTING HABITS
As a parent we want the best for our children. We wish them to be kind, confident, cooperative, and assertive. In our daily interactions with our kids, we try to guide them the best way we can. But, sometimes, our best ways are detrimental instead of being beneficial.
Here are a few examples and strategies to guide them effectively:
1. Letting her take chances and make mistakes instead of stepping in. By always stopping your child from making a mistake, you teach her to rely on you exclusively. It prevents her from fully experiencing a situation and learning from it. If your child is never challenged on her own, she will not learn how to problem solve, and will therefore lack self confidence later on when making decisions.
2. Praising her instead of overcomplimenting her. Your child needs positive reinforcement but overdoing it can be detrimental. When you tell your child how great she does for every little thing, then your word will become something she needs. Instead, she should learn how great it feels to feel proud. So, after she overcame some challenge you can ask her how it feels inside and then you can tell her she can be proud of herself.
3. Letting her have her own way instead of expecting perfection. Requesting perfection teaches your child that what she does and eventually who she is, is never good enough. This will lead your child to develop insecurity and low self-esteem. For instance, let your child make her bed. If the she does not tuck the sheets as you would, it does not matter. What matters is she made it and she will learn eventually to make it look better over time.
4. Showing her, not telling her. The best thing you can do is lead by example. For instance, if you volunteer somewhere, there is a big chance your child will ask you to volunteer as well. When you stand up for a cause, another person, or yourself, you show her how to do it. Soon enough, she will “copy” you and start advocating.
5. Talking about uncomfortable issues instead of sweeping them under the rug. Starting a conversation about difficult topics such as bullying, cheating at school, sexual abuse, thoughts of suicide, or drugs is never easy. You can start with an inviting question such as “It looks like something is bothering you. Do you want to talk about it?” Listen carefully and refrain yourself from overreacting or judging. Instead, provide your child with love, empathy, and support. Then, while respecting her point of view, share with her your own way of thinking and viewing the situation. Try to find a solution that works for everyone and implement it.
In order to become responsible and independent adults, children need to have opportunities to practice and learn what is best for them.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.