Today, I want to share how this tool can be very effective in motivating a toddler to clean up. “Decide what you will do and follow through” is one of my FAVORITE Positive Discipline tools right now with my 3-year old. But I have been using it since he was about 1, though. It helps in SO many situations.
Here is how I use this tool to motivate clean-up:
“If you choose not to help me clean up, I will just clean them up myself. But anything I clean up alone will be put away and not able to be played with until tomorrow.” So far this has worked every time. However, you have to have a few things in place for it to work. A) I use this to clean up the toy he has been playing with before he goes on to a new toy (when I see that he is starting to leave and just forget about the toy he got out). If you try this at the end of the day with an entire room that is a mess, it will likely not work. It’s too overwhelming to imagine you are going to put away ALL of his toys for an entire day (for you and him!). B) It works because I have always followed through in the past, so he knows I mean what I say. If you have gotten into a bad habit of threatening, but then retracting your consequence if he throws a tantrum or you are just too tired…etc – you are likely going to see them refuse to clean-up in order to test if you mean what you say. Follow through confidently and kindly, and after 1-3 times of follow-through, it will effectively motivate clean-up.
As a side note, if my child starts to have a melt-down about this approach, I use tools to validate his/her feelings, while still holding the boundary. You can read more on that in my article, “How To Help a 1 Year-Old Having a Tantrum”.