Creative discipline when kids are messy

Try these creative discipline ideas when your children are messy.

by Lisa Whelchel

If you're looking for ways to get your kids to clean up after themselves, try these ideas:

  • Here's a solution for a perpetually messy bedroom: Explain to your child, "I cannot bear to look at this room anymore — it's too messy! I'm going to turn off the circuit breaker so I can't see it. When it's clean enough for me to tolerate, let me know and I'll turn your power back on."
  • About an hour before bedtime, call for a "Whole House Sweep." Set the timer for 10-15 minutes. During that time, everyone must put things away that are out of place. When the timer buzzes, check the house. Then move bedtime up five minutes for each item left lying around or out of order.
  • Tidying up the house can be a full-time job when you have little ones. Part of my children's morning chore list includes "Pick up personal belongings." They know I mean business — if anything is still left at breakfast, I put the item in a large box or sack. Then, at the end of the week, the kids have the option of buying it back for 25 cents per item or leaving it there for me to take to the Goodwill store, a ministry, or the church nursery. If it's hard for you to donate a toy that you know cost a lot, try to remember that you'll probably be giving it to a child who will appreciate it enough to pick it up when asked.
  • Next time your child "forgets" to put something away, like toys or books, put it away for him. When he asks where it is, tell him that he'll just have to look for it. Believe me, he will learn that it's a lot more trouble to find something that Mum has hidden than it is to put it away in the first place.
  • The next time you ask your child to clean up a mess and she comes back with, "But that's not mine" or "I didn't do that," say, "Fine, then for the rest of the day I will only wash the dishes I used and the clothes I wore, and I'll only prepare the food that I'm going to eat."
  • This next idea is a stroke of brilliance, and I can't wait to try it with my own children. For every article of dirty clothing left on the floor rather than placed in the hamper, have your child make five trips from the place where the clothes were dropped to the washing machine, hamper, or utility room. The child must pick up the clothes, walk downstairs, put the article in the hamper, take it back out, return to where it had been dropped, drop it again, pick it up again, and then repeat the cycle. And a pair of socks counts as two, which makes 10 trips!



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