Appropriate Punishment for 5 year old who doesn't take care of her toys?

Christine - posted on 07/06/2012 ( 11 moms have responded )

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My five year old daughter lacks in appreciation in all areas but more so when it comes to her belongings. I spend a ton of time keeping up on the endless house work and chasing after her messy two year old brother, is it too much to ask of her that she be responsible for keeping her room tidy? Also me and her father have tried lots of different bribes reward systems and what not to entice her to take better care of her room and her belongings but no luck. Is it too extreme to take all toys and other belongings out her room until she can take care of the basics and slowly have her earn toys back?

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I don't think it is too much to ask at all. Here's what I do with J.



Before I vacuum his room, I give him a 20 minute warning and set that timer. When the timer dings, anything not in it's proper place goes in the trash (we actually donate it). If he wants to have that toy again, he can use his allowance to purchase it. When we first started this, I had to help him--I would hold up a toy and say "Where does this go?" and he would take the toy and put it away. If he didn't know where it went, I would show him. Eventually, he started doing it on his own.



Another rule we have is that only one box of toys may be out at one time. Thus, if he is playing with Legos, he must put them away before pulling out Imaginext. It doesn't always work, because a lot of toys work well for playing together, but it helps keep the mess from getting completely overwhelming.



Last, we don't buy many toys. Unless it is a birthday or Christmas, he must earn every new toy. This means he buys it with his own money, or he gets it as a reward for some accomplishment--and we don't count things he is expected to do anyway as accomplishments. Also, we do not bribe him--we never say "If you do this, we will buy you this." Instead we tell him afterwards, "You did such a great job on this that we feel you deserve something special." He is always expected to do his best, but we will reward him when we see an extra effort on his part. This way, all of his toys have a special meaning to him, and that makes him want to take care of them.

Sally - posted on 07/21/2012

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It's hard to not buy your kids too much if you grew up poor and have it better now. I struggle with that at every holiday and even if I'm good, grandma usually isn't. :)
The best luck we've had so far is with natural consequences. You break it; it's gone. Mom and Dad don't buy a new one. If you'd like to do extra chores to earn a new one yourself, that's great, but that's your responsibility. (If it was a quality toy and the breakage was an honest accident, a replacement may show up at the next gift giving holiday, but we encourage earning it yourself before then.) So far that's worked great with our now 8 year old. Unfortunately, our almost 3 year old just doesn't care so if she treats a toy poorly, we take it away for a day or two.
Good luck

Susan - posted on 07/21/2012

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We have recently started a new method for curbing the mess with our 8, 7, & 4 year olds that has been very successful. It even works with my four year old daughter. We have "toy jail" which is a giant plastic storage container. Any toys left out that mommy or daddy find have to "go to jail". And the kids have to "work for their freedom". Any toys left more than five days are lost forever. I make them do chores to free their toys. It's amazing how motivated my daughter. Became the first time one of her favorite dolls got "arrested". :) Now her room stays MUCH cleaner.

Sarah - posted on 07/06/2012

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Yes it is a lot to expect her to be totally responsible for keeping her room tidy.

Maybe you could turn it into a game like how many toys can you get in the box before I count to 10, or I bet you can do magic tricks. If I close my eyes can you make your toys disappear?

Personally I'm not bothered about whether my house is a little messy. My view is the housework will still be there when the children are grown and gone.

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Heather - posted on 07/23/2012

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I have the same problem with my 5 year old, and she is an only child and the first grandchild on my side so she is spoiled by all of my extended family. My husband and I hardley ever buy her toys because she has so many. I would rather by her stuff to help with learning, she can already add alot of numbers cause of this. I really loved all the advise on getting her to pick up and respect her toys and am going to use it myself also.

Casey - posted on 07/22/2012

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Ive have taken all my kids toys away on more the one occasion for not picking up and or taking care of them. They have to earn them back I usually do it one toy box at a time. If it gets broke even just a little it goes in the garbage. They may not be happy about it and may drive you up the wall but it should get them to respect their belongings more.

Christine - posted on 07/21/2012

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@ Sally. Yea admittedly its a lot of my own fault. Half the time i buy my children things that they might not even want but i want them to have anyways because i didn't get it as a child LOL And OMG like you said grandmas do NOT help the situation! My son is only 2 so its nearly impossible to try to get him to understand how or why mom wants them to appreciate their things by taking care of them, so i dont push it too much and i know my daughter sees that and probably thinks what the heck mom! But thank you lady's so much for your advice and tips I feel a ton better and realize i need to cut my daughter some slack becuase my expectations are probably a little too high.

Christine - posted on 07/21/2012

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@ Susan. Ive read something similar in an article. It was the same concept but it was for keeping clutter and toys out of the living area by the end of the night and it wasn't just aimed for the kids but for the hubby too LOL Thats a really good idea though to use it for her room. Ive recently picked through both of my childrens toys and donated a box full to tame the toy clutter. So I think that has helped my daughter not feel so overwhelmed when its time to clean. We discussed which toys go in what bin and I keep a few bins on her top shelf in her closet so if she wants to play with her barbies she has to pick up her play food first before i take them down. Ive tried talking to her about trying to pick up 1 group of things before bed and give her some ideas like do you want to pick up your dress up clothes or hang up all her purses? So those little things have been helping but im going to keep your idea in my back pocket if my new tricks dont work out.

Christine - posted on 07/21/2012

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@ Sally. Ive actually been a organized clean freak since I was 5 LOL My mother jokes that Im OCD now and as a child.Im starting to wonder if thats why I may have higher expectations of her. I guess my biggest concern isn't completely about wether or not her rooms clean but to be able to teach her to treat her belongings with care. I didnt grow up as privileged as my children are so back then every toy i had was taken with great care because if it broke or got lost that was it. Mom and dad weren't able to go out and buy a new one. I think theres a name for it, something like second generation spoiling or something.

Sally - posted on 07/21/2012

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She's 5 for goodness sake. I bet you weren't tidy at 5 either. It's also not fair to do everything to clean up her brother's mess and nothing to help with hers regardless of their ages. Both of them should be quite capable of picking up after themselves with help, but neither of them is old enough to be doing it alone.

Lisa - posted on 07/20/2012

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This works well for me and hopefully it works well for you as well. next time you are gonna spend some precious time with your daughter(or even if she is going to a friends house) tell her before we go do you have to clean your room. if she does not clean her room she does not get to go.

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