Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Your typical tactics won't work here

Shortly before Ryan's bedtime, he trashed his room. A totally thorough trashing. Quite impressive, actually.

So I laid down Typical Parent Threat #3: clean up this mess now or I'll give away anything that's left on the floor.

But Ryan is not a typical child, so typical parent threats don't always work the way I'd like.

I gave him 10 minutes; Stu set a timer on his phone as a visual aid.

I gave Ryan prompts to keep him on track: start with your rubber duckies, here are some more Legos, you'd be totally sad if I had to take away these dinosaurs.

Every few seconds, Ryan asked Stu for an update on "how many minutes are left?"

He stayed on task for the entire 10 minutes, but he was nowhere near done. I decided to give him an extension.

"Tell you what," I offered, "I'll pick up the books, and you have until I'm finished with the books to put away the rest of the toys."

Immediately he started picking up books.

"Don't worry about the books," I said, "you pick up the toys, I'll do the books."

He pushed some toys around, then asked "Should I clean up the books now?"

"No, sweetie, just work on the toys. I'll take care of the books."

He put a couple of toys on a shelf. Then he handed me a few books.

"You don't get it, do you? When the books are all cleaned up, time is up."

He truly didn't get it. I explained the concept several different ways, and he just kept helping me clean up the books. We played this game for a solid half-hour before declaring the room good-enough; I'm still holding his Play-Doh hostage until the room is actually clean.

How do you get your atypical child to clean his room?


  1. Unfortunately my somewhat atypical child doesn't clean his room. A month ago he trashed his room looking for something. His thing is Mom come help me clean, then sits there and watches as you clean up. Well this time I refused. The mess stayed like that for 3 weeks. i finally couldn't stand to look at it anymore and spent 2 hours cleaning it up myself. With ADHD he doesn't stay focused to do much because he becomes fixated on something and doesn't help. Sorry I can't help you here.

  2. Maybe you can sing songs from Mary Poppins while cleaning; after all those kids were great models! A few go-rounds of Step in Time should do it.

  3. If cleanup is over when the books are put away it makes sense to help put away the books and get done faster.

  4. Sounds to me, like you just did :)

    There are plenty of typical six year olds who can't, won't, don't clean up their rooms without mum or dad's help.

    I'd be less concerned about the time it takes and be happy with the focussed effort.

  5. Ehhhh, does typical kids clean their room? :-) Mine do not.


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