Don’t fight with kids over keeping rooms clean

  • By Heidi Stevens Chicago Tribune
  • Sunday, February 10, 2013 2:25pm
  • Life

Problem: Your 8-year-old’s room is a constant disaster. Is this a battle worth picking?

Solution: “When a certain type of behavior goes against our values, we can’t just pretend it doesn’t bother us, at least not for long,” said Noel Janis-Norton, author of the upcoming “Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting.”

“Parents start out determined to say nothing, but inevitably they end up reverting to nagging, scolding and threatening. Guiding children into good habits does not have to be a battle.”

And tidying one’s own room is a good habit, Janis-Norton said.

“It teaches the skill of organization and trains the habit of organization,” she said. “This will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.”

Take a moment to explain why you value a tidy room and then set your child up with some of the necessary skills.

“Being organized doesn’t come naturally,” she said.

“Have a five-minute cleanup time once or twice a day, always before an activity that the child looks forward to, such as computer time, dinner or a game with Mom or Dad. This way there is never too big a mess to clean up.

“Take a photo of each part of the room right after it has been tidied. Ask your child to tell you about what she sees in the photo, what belongs where and why. Then her job is to make each part of her room look like the photo.

“Children are always asking us for something. It might be asking for a glass of water, or it might be wanting help to find the lost Barbie shoe.

“Instead of saying ‘yes’ right away, say, ‘Ask me again after you’ve put your dirty clothes in the basket (or you’ve put the books back on the shelf or the cars back in the box, etc.)’ and I’ll say ‘yes.’

“Make sure there’s enough storage, and that it’s the right kind of storage. We want to make it easy for our children to do the right thing.

“If your child has too many toys, weed out the duplicates and outgrown, worn-out items. Then box up most of what’s left and put the boxes out of sight.

“With fewer toys out, cleanup is much less daunting. You can bring out one of these boxes every few weeks or so as a reward.

“The toys your child hasn’t seen for a while will seem exciting again and will satisfy his natural desire for novelty.

“Be willing to clean up with your child if he is very resistant. But don’t call it ‘helping,’ because he doesn’t really need help. But keeping him company will make the task less overwhelming.”

More in Life

Co-owner Jason Parzyk carries two growlers to fill as he serves up beer at Lake Stevens Brewing Co. The first brewery in the city is celebrating one-year anniversary this weekend. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Beer of the Week: Lake Stevens Brewing Co.’s Sour Imperial

The beer has a depth and a complex flavor profile that goes beyond just another barrel-aged stout.

Now is the perfect time to design the garden of your dreams

Find inspiration in gardening magazines, on the internet, in your neighborhood and at nurseries.

Around Thanksgiving, gardeners give thanks for the garden

What are they most thankful for? The pleasure they receive from spending time in their yards.

Great Plant Pick: Thuja occidentalis ‘Degroot’s Spire’

What: An exceptional selection of the eastern arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis “Degroot’s Spire”… Continue reading

Our annual list of holiday events in Snohomish County and beyond

LIGHTS The Lights of Christmas: Open 5 to 10 p.m. Nov. 30-Dec.… Continue reading

AC/DC founding member Malcolm Young dead at 64

The older brother of bandmate Angus Young was the group’s key writer and leader.

Garden clubs in Snohomish, Island counties

Alderwood Garden Club: Cedar Valley Grange Hall, 20526 52nd Ave. W., Lynnwood;… Continue reading

Home and Garden calendar for Snohomish County and beyond

Printing workshop: with artist and naturalist April Richardson, 1 to 3 p.m.… Continue reading

Legendary bluesman Curtis Salgado to play Arlington show

The Northwest blues-soul-funk-R&B living legend performs with Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons Nov. 18.

Most Read