I'm taking a parenting class at church called Love and Logic for Early Childhood, and it has actually been really helpful in a lot of areas. The theory from the book on this particular issue is that I should ask the child, one time, "Do you want to clean up your toys or shall I?" and if they don't clean it up, I should say, "No problem," and proceed to take away the toys. No yelling. No nagging. No lecturing. No warnings. No repeating myself. This is the theory. Easier said than done.
Then, according to the book, my child will learn from these consequences that one should take care of one's things and listen to one's mother the first time, and we will all live happily together in our Loving and Logical home. Mmmmkay.
So that's this week's Experiment in Parenting. Remember this post about Tommy, and how he learns things the hard way? It applies here, too. So far I have collected four garbage bags of toys and put them up in the closet. To be fair, some of the confiscated toys are Katie's, who seems to be following in her brother's footsteps on this issue.
Twice this week, Tommy decided he wanted to play with a certain toy that he just couldn't seem to find, so he completely ransacked his room looking for it. Twice. And both times, I informed him that the toy he was searching for had already been taken away, and that by the way, now you need to clean up all those toys you just threw everywhere. And twice, he refused to clean up the toys, so twice I have gathered up his increasingly meager belongings and put them up in the closet. (Incidentally, when he tearfully asked me when he could get his toys back, I snapped, "NEVER", which is not a response endorsed by the authors of Love and Logic for Early Childhood. Just so you know.)
Then today when I asked him to clean up his room, he responded, "Well, I don't feel like it, Mom, so go ahead and take all those toys away." The authors of Love and Logic for Early Childhood did not provide a suggested response to this scenario. I checked.
So now I'm thinking about just having a garage sale. A bonfire crossed my mind, too, I'll admit, but the City would probably get involved, so that's no good. Another option would be to wrap the toys up and give them out as Christmas presents.
What I'll probably do, though, is just keep taking them away and hope that he learns his lesson before he gets down to zero toys and is forced to entertain himself with rocks and sticks in the back yard. The main drawback of that plan is that I think he would enjoy the rocks and sticks quite a lot. As long as I don't ask him to clean them up.