A minor success

July 4, 2007

As part of our bedtime routine for our children we usually get them to clean up their toys, which by days end seem to cover all available floor space in our living room. To start with, getting our eldest to do this was easy but it soon turned into an ugly daily event where we were using the full gamut of coercion and punishment to get her to ‘clean up her mess’.Eventually, as you might expect, we figured out that approach was waaaaay too destructive for all parties involved. Aside from the nasty atmosphere it created and aside from the people this was turning us in to and aside from the lifelong dislike of tidying-up this would produce in our daughter we also realised that for the most part the issue of tidyness was a matter of taste and that it wasn’t our daughter’s fault that she didn’t share either our taste or our ability to focus on tidying for long periods either.

So we decided to stop the whole thing and to try modelling the tidying process instead. This was quite some time ago and it often looked like our hope that she would eventually follow our lead was not going to be fulfilled. I tryed to remind myself that it didn’t matter and that the most important thing was that we’d removed this ugly thing from our lives.

In actual fact that was the most important thing and to be perfectly honest we were still trying to make her do what we wanted – just through a much more subtle means.

We certainly didn’t deserve to have our wish granted but nonethless (and many, many months later) for the last two nights our eldest has enthusiastically volunteered her services for cleaning up at the end of the day.

It came as a great surprise and despite my wariness of our motives I’m really happy to see evidence, in my own life, of the idea that children can do the right thing without the ‘encouragement’ of threats and coercion. I also see it as evidence that they will ‘naturally’ act to enhance family life as opposed to being hell bent on it’s destruction.


One comment

  1. I should also mention that when we moved into the current house we designated one room as the toy room and decided that we wouldn’t insist that it be tidyed up. It soon turned into quite an impressive state but because we left it alone our kids were able to experience the reality of what happens when our countless matieral possessions aren’t regularly tidied up. After a while Adi started asking us if we could tidy it up for her – which I think Karen. There was no was a 4 year old could have sorted that lot out that’s for sure

    Posted by: Aaron | 07/04/2007

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