Thursday, May 3, 2012

Over the past few months, or maybe even a year, I have noticed that our biggest struggle with Gavin is getting him to tidy up his toys. He takes things out to play and has no interest in cleaning them up. He dawdles, ignores, resists, or refuses. It's just one of those things. I've tried cooperation, but he simply takes advantage. 

If I offer to help, he simply stops, or cooperates for a little while and then gets distracted or resistant. I've tried incentives, but he doesn't do the whole work-now-for-benefits-after. I've tried threats, but again, he either doesn't understand or doesn't care. And finally, I've tried competition... and it works. If I tell him that I'm going to do something faster than he is going to clean up - that it's a race - he is all over it.

But encouraging the use of competition as a motivator is not something I like. While I know that competition can be fun, I don't think that it's good to teach him that trying to "win" is a good reason to put effort into things.

Any suggestions?

2 wonderful comments:

Mom said...

You may need to use competition now but in 6 months, something else may start to work - like positive incentives. At his age, the way his mind processes things is changing all the time. So don't worry if you have to use competition for a while. You can switch to something else later and no harm will be done.

Tara said...

I know that using competition as a motivational tool is not ideal, but at 3 years old, I would not worry too much about it. My Pre-K's still struggle with cleaning up, especially the 3-year-olds. I reward them when they do put in more effort than normal, but we adults help them out a lot.

For my kindergartens, I will sometimes take toys away for a period of time if they aren't put away properly. I explain that it's not fair if someone has to clean up after them, so they cannot take out toys that they haven't put away. This reasoning is beyond most of the Pre-K's though.

Gavin is so smart in so many ways, but he is still little. I think it will all come together with time, especially as his reasoning skills develop more. I'd say you're doing good if you've found something that works for now, and you'll be able to adapt as he grows :)