Monday, March 30, 2009

How do you motivate little boys to pick up toys?

It's a puzzling question.

At least to me.

Mya never seemed to have a problem. I don't know if that is a first-born thing or a girl thing, probably a first-born thing.

Getting the boys to pick up their toys is like pulling teeth (not the loose ones, the permanent adult ones). It's a frustrating chore. Many times I'm tempted to just do it myself, but where would the lesson be in that.

I've helped them pick up toys (and ended up finishing the job myself) I've tried asking nicely. I've tried asking multiple times in a short period of time. I've even tried asking in a very loud voice.

I've threatened them with punishments. I've told them they can't leave their room until its picked up (they were in their room for 3 hours).

Last week I came up with a new scheme.

I asked them to pick up. When they didn't listen, I picked up the toys myself and then I took them away in a box and hid them...

for a week.

And, for a week their room was relatively picked up (mainly due to the fact that their toys were being held hostage in the utility room).

But today, their room is again a disaster area.

Which I asked them to pick up...

And they have not.

In fact, I hear water running in the bathroom as I write this.

Not a good sign my friends, not a good sign.

And so I will head up stairs, pull out a box and start packing the toys away, again.

Here's hoping round two is a little more successful.

I'm not holding my breath. :)


Mindy said...

Hey Megan, I don't have much advice here as I'm just getting into this myself. However, I just read not too long ago (maybe in Bringing Up Boys?) that when you tell boys to pick up their toys for example, they don't get it. You have to be VERY specific. Like saying "Boys, pick up all the train tracks and put them in this box." Then "Boys, now pick up those 5 books in the corner and put them here."

It's like you have to micromanage them because their brains cannot process a huge task like that. The more specific you are, the better the results.

Boys are mini versions of our husbands. You know how with a lot of men you tell them something and it goes in one ear and out the other? Boys are the same way. They need everything spelled out.

It's also a good idea to ask them "Do you understand?" and wait for the "Yes, Mom" so you know they heard you.

Hope that can help a little! I do agree though, it's way easier to pick up the toys yourself than to keep "nagging" them to pick up their toys...but like you said, where's the lesson in that? :)

Brooke said...

Too funny- I was going to put exactly what Mindy said! My sister-in-law has 3 boys, and I saw her do that and it seems to work great. And making it into a competition makes it a fun thing, like if they get it done before a timer goes off they get a treat, etc. Hang in there!

Marla said...

I, of course, can offer no advice. But they sure do make me laugh.

Jessica said...

I love that you held their toys hostage for a week!!! That would have been hard! You are such a good mom Megan! Isnt that one of Kevin Leman's big things...let reality be their teacher?

smw said...

oh, i feel for you. it really is helpful to keeping things clean, though, when 1/2 their toys are gone. :) (used that before here.) i hope they get the idea. today the kids got consequences for fighting right off the bat in the morning. the consequence was cleaning up a certain # of items in the basement(a horrible disaster area). smith moped, cried, fussed, bargained, and pouted all day long about his items. finally he fell asleep and woke up happier and finished them. about supper time he said, "i'm glad i can play now. i couldn't play all day because i didn't get my items picked up."

sad commentary, but true. he seriously was stuck on 8 items. :( sigh. wish i had some words of wisdom for you.

Holly said...

Being consistent helps; if picking up is just part of the routine, and the boys know what you expect every single time, they are more likely to do what you are asking -- eventually. Fun, huh?

Julia DesCarpentrie said...

You should see my closet- I have 3, yes 3, sacks of toys I'm holding hostage because of the same problem. And my boys are older. Slowly but surely, they are catching on. But they have to do a chore to earn the toy back. Toys not worthy enough to earn back are going bye bye. Amazing what purging has been done thru this process!