Monday, November 5, 2012

Motivating Kids to Clean

The other day my husband walked into the kid's bathroom and was disgusted at the state of their sink.

Globs of dried up toothpaste filled the sink and splatter was on the faucet.
He was so disgusted that he cleaned their sink.

I don't have a before picture.  I wasn't about to ask my husband to stop cleaning so I could take a picture, and he wasn't in the mood to have his picture taken.  But I'm sure you could use your imagination.

I didn't think it was that bad, but then again, I have a higher tolerance level for these things than he does.  Of course it's not entirely the kid's fault.  I haven't taught them that they should clean the sink.  And I'm obviously not keeping up with it.

So in my quest for a cleaner sink, I've come up with a pretty good plan.  We've been doing it for two weeks and it is still working out brilliantly.

The kids have an 8:00 pm bedtime.  And by bedtime, I just mean they should be in their rooms.  The Spencinator pretty much falls asleep right away, but Sweetie Pie could be up for hours drawing and reading.  Hey, as long as she's quite and lets me and the hubs have some uninterrupted time together, I don't mind.  Plus, I don't think Sweetie Pie needs that much sleep because even though she finally falls asleep around 10 pm and I wake her up around 7 am, she doesn't seem tired and she doesn't complain.

Anyway, back to my brilliant plan.  I can't say I came up with this all on my own.  My husband did help by pointing out a strong motivator.  You see, the Spencinator had been wanting to play his Nintendo DSi   at night after we tuck him into bed.  So I said, sure, as long as your sink is clean.  He jumped on the chance to do this and has been cleaning his sink nightly, right after brushing his teeth.  He just cleans rinses the sink with water till all the toothpaste is gone and uses a wash rag to clean and polish the faucet.  If his sink passes 'inspection', he is allowed to play his Nintendo DS until 9 pm.  That's when I'll come in and check on him.  By then he's usually already asleep.  And on the nights that we are running late, he might get to bed at 8:45 pm but still only has till 9 pm to play and he doesn't seem to mind.  Getting the Spencinator to do anything is about motivation.  Find out what motivates him, and make that the incentive to get the non preferred task done.  This is a useful tip for not just autistic kids, but all kids.  The trick is figuring out the motivator.  For a long time, we didn't know what it was, or if he even had one.  Oh, and the motivator can change or need to be increased, so what worked one day may not work another.

OK, so that's how I get half of the kid's bathroom sink cleaned.  Since Sweetie Pie isn't a big Nintendo fan, that wasn't going to work for her.  And although she's the kind of kid that will just do what she's asked (most of the time), if we are rewarding Spencer, we have to reward her too.  Plus this make for less complaining about actually doing the work.  So in order for her to want to keep her sink cleaned, I had to use a different motivator - books.  That girl loves to read, and loves it even more when I read to her.  So I said I'd read her a chapter each night she has her sink cleaned.  Right now she is into the Disney Tinkerbell Fairy books.  Before I implemented this new plan we had read the first one "Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg".  We started on the second book "Fairy Haven and the Quest for the Wand".  I'd read a chapter a night, sometimes two if she also cleaned up a part of her room.  Yes, keeping her room tidy is another thing she doesn't like to do so I thought I'd throw that task in there too.  I want her to clean her sink and her room, not just to have a cleaner sink and room, but because I want to find out what happens next in the books.  They are quite interesting.  And after finishing the second book a couple of days ago, we wondered if there was a third.  We were happy to find out that there is, "Fairies and the Quest for Never Land".  I think she'll be getting that for Christmas.  I can't wait to read that one too.

How do you motivate your kids to clean?


If you've been watching Series 3 of Downton Abbey, they aired the last episode, episode 8 last night.
Here's the link:

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