Is pride the fuel to actually motivate kids to clean up?

family values

The Clean Up:

I AM so tired of finding my kids’ stuff where it’s not supposed to be.  I AM so tired of asking them to pick up said stuff from where it’s not supposed to be. I AM also so tired of seeing the same stuff they pretended to move a minute ago BACK into the place from which I asked them to move it. I AM also tired of finding their stuff in my room or in my space. More importantly, I AM so, so, so, tired of seeing MY stuff not put back in its place when they borrow it. Regardless if it is my stuff or theirs, I AM so tired of the moan, the grunt, and/or the huff I hear in response to when I ask to them to put stuff back where it belongs. If you share this frustration, keep reading.  If not, skip the rest of the article and please share your secret on how to motivate kids to clean up. 

While I digress, another thing that drives me crazy and feels like a slap in the face is how is it that they can walk THROUGH the mudroom, past the other coats actually hung up on the hooks, my wife and my computer bags neatly placed on the shelf, and the shoes neatly lined up on the floor, into the kitchen, only to drape their coat over a kitchen chair, toss their backpack on the table, and kick off their shoes (and gross, socks), on the kitchen floor. And then there is the “trail” the “breadcrumb trail”, the trail that helps them find their way back to where they first started leaving STUFF.  Yet again, I AM so tired of calling for them and not getting a human response. If I can find a bright side, their trail of clothes or other belongings can be used to find their location in the house but alas, only to be greeted with an irritated response of “what?”

The Plan B:

So, if repeatedly asking them to put stuff away or simply taking their stuff away doesn’t work, I thought for sure my newly developed Plan B would work.  I thought it to be foolproof as it was a plan that would turn the tables.  A plan that would require a sense of empathy with a dabble of disgust.  This plan involved leaving my boxers (clean but they didn’t know that) in one of my kid’s room.  I was in this for the long haul.  I was committed to my task.  The night finally arrived and like a scene from the movie Mission Impossible, I strategically planted my boxers, an object of obvious disgust, on one of my kid’s bedroom floor.  Giddy, I anxiously waited and waited in my room for the scream of disgust.  The moment was about to happened, my child walked into his room. I waited and waited some more. Nothing?  I peeked around the corner and saw my child leave his room.  Impossible! There was no response, no reaction. Nothing?!? There is no way my kid didn’t see my boxers so cleverly and obviously laid out in the middle of the bedroom floor.

When the coast was clear, I casually walked past the bedroom and was shocked at what I saw.  I saw nothing!  Where did my boxers go?  They were gone.  This got picked up?  OMG, my kid can pick up my boxers but god forbid they can pick up a hat, a controller, a jacket or a single sock left on the coffee table? 

The Backfire:

OK – so where did they go?  I didn’t want to ask right away for fear that my plan had failed.  It was driving me crazy but I refused to admit defeat. This time I actually walked into the bedroom for a better look but once again came up empty handed.  To make matters worse, I found myself straightening up my kid’s room as I was looking for my undergarment. 

An hour later, I heard it.  A scream.  But the scream was from the wrong kid.  Being a concerned father, I ran upstairs into my other kid’s room to see what the problem was. And there it was, my boxers on her bedroom floor.  I quickly gathered up my boxers, and as I exited her room, our eyes locked on to each other like two cowboys in a duel.  Clearly, I was outsmarted. 

The Great Debate:

Once I finally swallowed my pride, my son and I were able to engage in a discussion in preparation for this article.  If you are wondering, yes, we were able to have a nice conversation; so in one respect, we were already making some improvements. To be honest, I couldn’t name the family value at first.  It took a conversation between us to pinpoint it together. As we discussed some possible family values (or the lack of) behind this problem: was it the value of caring (or not)? understanding (or not), respect (or lack of) or maybe teamwork (or not).  While all these are great values, it eventually boiled down to pride. How ironic in that I had to swallow mine in order to identify it for my son. It was definitely the pride I have towards the things I have and that I am able to give to my family.  My pride is my fuel to keep things in good shape and to put things back in their place for safe keeping. 

My kids’ bedrooms aren’t always neat and tidy, and in a weird twist, I don’t care.  It’s their room.  My wife on the other hand does care when their rooms get too messy – when she has a blog, she can describe the origin of her issues.  Whether or not our conversation will actually start getting my kids to pick up after themselves, their lack of pride fostered a great conversation where there was no arguing (or grunting, moaning or huffing).  So while this story was about my family value, it is a value I will model.

The Fuel:

So how do you get your kids to pick up after themselves?  I’m not one hundred percent sure but visit Early Bird Mom website for some tips. Click here.

The Update:

While I was writing this blog, my son asked if I could move my car a tiny bit so that he can use the piece of wood underneath the front tire.  When I asked why, he gave a valid reason followed up with, and I quote, “I’ll put it back.” Throw the mic down and exit stage left!

While pride was identified as my family value this time, add a comment what may have been your family value? Describe it with your family and place it on your Family Values Roadmap worksheet, downloadable as a free PDF on my site for free when you sign-up. Click here.

Share my story with a friend and ask them what would be their family value connection!

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