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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 5170
Experience:  Dr.Mark is a psychologist in private practice who works with parents and children in resolving family issues.
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Hi, I have a very hard time getting my 5 year old daughter

Resolved Question:

Hi,
I have a very hard time getting my 5 year old daughter to pick up her toys and not leave a huge mess everywhere she goes (in our house). I have gotten her toy bins that are supposed to be good for kids. There are 3 shelves of them with separate removable bins to easily see and organize toys. I have gone through her room helping her countless times. I have tried to teach and explain to her how to avoid getting her room or desk such a disaster, by putting one thing away before getting another one out. I have told her that she can not watch tv until her room is picked up. She can do it, actually fairly quickly when she puts her mind to it, but normally just sits in her room and cries. What should I do?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.

Hi!

I can imagine how frustrating this situation must be for you. You are clearly a loving mom and you're trying everything and she is getting more stubborn instead of more compliant.

The first thing you need to change in this scenario is that cleaning up is being treated here as something that isn't fun, that is not a desirable activity but a "have to get it done to get to something fun" activity.

5 year olds do not want to delay fun. So she'll sit there and cry for a long time instead of doing something that's not fun. Because she's not logical. She's 5.

Your next step is to make it a fun activity. Not quite a game but something you don't consider awful. The best way is to do it with her. If it's not a bother, it would be something YOU want to do. So show her it is. Get down there and do it with her and keep repeating afterwards, "Doesn't that feel good to have the room look so nice?" Then give her a hug and be real happy. When you enjoy cleaning, she'll have a reason to also.

A great book for the long run: I want to recommend that you read a wonderful classic, How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. It is from the 1980s by two therapists who studied with psychologist Haim Ginott. You can still find his wonderful books. If you want to go for the original, Ginott's book, Between Parent and Child, is still relevant and readable after all these decades.

Okay, I wish you the very best!

Please remember to click the green accept button because: even though you have made a deposit, I do not get paid for my time unless you press ACCEPT. You are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing ACCEPT. Feel free to continue the discussion even after pressing ACCEPT as my goal is to get you the best answer possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I have done this as well. But she wants to play while I clean instead of helping. I just think that she is old enough to pick up after herself because she is more than capable to do it. I don't think picking up her toys is something I should have to continue doing or continue making it a game for her. I don't think she should be rewarded for not doing what shes asked. I've also thought about bagging up the toys she refuses to pick up and storing them in the attic until she demonstrates that she is going to take care of her toys and not leave them lying all over the place. What do you think of that?
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.
Punishment like that is usually too sophisticated for 5 year olds. They just treat it as being mean.

You might consider the sticker system, then, if she's not joining in with you:

put up on her wall a sheet with places for stickers. One week at most. Sometimes with 5 year olds who are a bit immature and young for their age you have to start with 3-4 days only as they can't conceptualize a whole week.

You then have her put the sticker up every time she helps clean up her room. When she gets the 3-4 stickers, she gets to go with you for ice cream or some other fun excursion or some other small prize.

The carrot works with 5 year olds usually better than the stick as they're not that mature even though they're talking.

I wish you the very best!


Please remember to click the green accept button because: even though you have made a deposit, I do not get paid for my time unless you press ACCEPT. You are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing ACCEPT. Feel free to continue the discussion even after pressing ACCEPT as my goal is to get you the best answer possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Dr. Mark, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 5170
Experience: Dr.Mark is a psychologist in private practice who works with parents and children in resolving family issues.
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Dr. Mark
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Dr.Mark is a psychologist in private practice who works with parents and children in resolving family issues.