I know a mother who used to stand in the middle of her nine-year-old son's room every Saturday and yell until she was hoarse. The more she yelled, the slower her son moved to pick up his horrendous room. It vaguely resembled a site where a clothing store and a toy store had exploded at the same time.
Unfortunately, the dumpster-like appearance of the room bothered Mom beyond measure, but it didn't seem to faze her mess-loving son. Mom needed a way to help the problem become her son's, rather than hers.
Love and Logic to the rescue!
First, she offered some choices: "Would you like to have your room cleaned by 10:00 a.m. Saturday, or do you need an extra hour?" Then, when her son picked the later time, she used an enforceable statement and said cheerfully, "Feel free to keep the things you pick up. I'll be back at 11."
Mom made sure she was back at exactly 11:00 a.m. Thankfully, she only had to bag up a few stray toys the first time. Things really started to improve when her son realized that she would actually follow through on her limits.
Now, Mom has the energy for more gratifying things instead of acting like a motherly megaphone.
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Dr. Charles Fay
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