Suggestion on Homework and Cleaning up... please

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by bigbear11, Aug 24, 2012.

  1. bigbear11

    bigbear11 Guest

    Let me preface this saying that I feel like I ask you guys the same questions all the time… but we are trying so hard to get better at this. I need your ideas and suggestions on how to handle a few specific situations. I have gone back and reread Explosive Child and read some online material from Love and Logic but I am a little unclear on what this might sound like in “real life”. So here goes…
    1) Homework – very much an issue at our house. This year we have gotten better and are not badgering her about doing it. We remind maybe a few times but don’t get mad. If she doesn’t do it, then that is between her and school. As a reminder she goes to a school for kids with learning differences so her teachers are well used to dealing with this. She is in 4[SUP]th[/SUP] grade and the expectations around writing are picking up. She can do the work because when she finally does it, it is correct and done relatively quickly. But she puts it off… “Im not ready!!” but she is never ready. Granted we could apply Plan A and “force” her to set at the table but that isn’t good for anyone… know that. We do try to problem solve and she can say that she needs to practice math and writing so she can get better at it or that she didn’t do well on the Science Test because she didn’t study and that she needs to do it earlier in the evening. But in the heat of the moment, she reverts to the “I’m not ready” mantra. Currently what she doesn’t do at home she does at school but that won’t work long term. We are meeting with the teacher early next week to discuss how to help her so would appreciate any thoughts.
    2) Picking up – getting her to pick up her stuff is challenging. Our home has a “keeping room” off the kitchen which she plays in most time. She is “not finished” playing with stuff and as a result will leave things out for as long as we will allow. Granted there have been some times she will do on her own which we praise greatly but extremely seldom. When we finally can’t see the floor or table and say it is time to clean up and help her it typically ends in a rage. Here again, when we try to problem solve before about why it is important to pick up and how we can do that…she comes up with all the right answers and says she will do that next time. When next time comes, she isn’t done playing with it and a rage ensues if we push or we clean up. I was reading the Love and Logic and it talked about making statements that I can control not telling her what she must do. I can see going in and saying (after we have talked about it and agreeing of course) that I will keep the toys that I pick up and she can keep the toys that she picks up at the end of the day. I can see doing that and keeping the toys for a few weeks. How would ya’ll handle it.
    The main thing we are working on now is trying to prevent the violence when she rages and having the sense (and maturity) to walk away rather than engage her but these 2 things are what seems to be triggering them. Just trying to get some ideas as to how to handle the “right way”.
    Thanks in advance. Hopefully someday I’ll get the hang of this and be able to offer advice to others. ;-)
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Homework. No battle. difficult child has a resource period - and homework, other than reading (such as a novel for english class), all gets done at school. When school is over, it is DONE for the day. We haven't found anything else that works.

    Cleaning up... well, don't ask husband about that. He says I'm as bad as the kids!
  3. chloedancer

    chloedancer New Member

    I use after school "checklists" that have several tasks on them including homework. no priveldges until your checklist is done. It doesn't always work, but there is little power struggle. For picking up I try to be sure that I don't let the mess get "too big." when I have to cleanup, items I pick up must be earned back. (we have a list of choices) thats a win win for me :) but...I have to lock up the things I take.
  4. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I think that you will find that most of us have tried various ways to help our kids move through these necessary tasks and what works for some may not work for other. Also, something that works now, may not work next week or month.

    I also had checklists for my girls. When they got home from school, they could have a snack, chill for about 20-30 minutes and then get started on homework and usually one or two small chores. I stressed the importance of being a team...that we are ALL responsible for the daily and weekly upkeep of our home. If we want to play, we have do these things so friends and family can come and go and the responsibility it not up to only one person. By example, H and I showed them how we divvied up our chores, cleaned up after ourselves, etc.

    For the most part, this really did help a lot, but like every other method, it wasn't fail proof and we would often have to tweak things...and there was never a guarantee that difficult child would not throw a meltdown and ruin an entire weekend.

    One thing that I felt was important to stress to both girls was that if we do a little chore each day, come Saturday our workload and housecleaning wouldn't be so monumental. They seemed to understand that. At first, each daughter would get her own list, based on what she was good at or typically didn't mind doing, like dusting or emptying the garbage, sorting laundry - whatever. Eventually, there was only ONE list and they got to decide who did which chore. During the elementary years the sports schedules really interfered with our home schedule, but with some planning and focus, we managed. Again, this is not to say it was failproof at all.

    What we eventually learned was the importance of having a routine and schedule for sleeping and eating. This turned out to be VERY important for difficult child's mental state and cooperation.

    In terms of battling over HW, we did it for a couple of years until difficult child was picked up for a 504 and then later SpEd - once she had access to the resource room, it was agreed in a PPT with the school that we would not battle over HW anymore. difficult child would try to complete her HW during that resource room time. For long term projects, they were broken into chunks so each piece was managable. Again, not failproof, but helpful.

    I do not believe that my difficult child's issue was primarily that she was simply being oppositional but we had a few teachers who made this suggestion. We tried to educate them repeatedly about difficult child's issues, but finally just gave up and kept with the plan laid out in the PPTs and according to the IEP we created. I have had to really go to battle to get difficult child some of her services and, likewise, I've fight off some of their lame suggestions. You know your child best - the diagnosis, in my opinion, is just a diagnosis. I prefer to look at the specific behaviors and focus on those in terms of helping a child rather than the label. My difficult child had/has Tourette, but although her tics were bad when she was little, the Tourette's Syndrome manifested itself by way of more Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and anxiety-like behaviors. So that is what I was able to have the team focus on more than the typical suggestions for kids with Tourette's Syndrome. Know what I mean??

    Best of luck. You will figure out methods that work for you child, but be willing to change things up when they don't work anymore.
  5. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Yep. ROUTINE is everything! Especially with ADHD. You cannot write a list and wait for the "conscious" mind of an ADHD child to remember to check the list and follow it independently every day. But - many times you CAN implement a routine that eventually (and I cannot stress the word eventually enough) will become ingrained and automatic. It IS work to implement that routine....but better than endless nagging and yelling and arguments.

    Good luck!
  6. greenrene

    greenrene Member

    I've made a rule for my kids that nobody eats dinner (or lunch, depending on the day) until the floor is picked up. Hunger wins every time.

    Homework is another story - after a huge difficult child meltdown one day involving tearing textbook pages and throwing pencils (definitely not the first time it happened, but I was DONE after that day), I refused to force the issue anymore.
  7. You could try or cozi central. Flylady sends emails just for kids. Kind of fun things like "Hey Kids! Let's all go to our rooms and clean off the top of our dressers. Set a timer for 5 minutes or 10 and just keep going until the timer goes off - then you're done.

    Cozi will also send reminders. You can enter reminders in for each member of the family and have them sent to them or the reminders can all come to your phone or computer and will bing. Each person gets a different colour and maybe the kids might like that? Even if they come to your phone/computer - you can say Oh! here is your reminder that it's homework time or clean up time.....

    I also think that involving her in the planning of her schedule will help.

    That said- I've never had much luck getting our family to stick with any one method - it seems to be transient around here. What works for a while may stop working so we have to try something different. Good luck!!
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    As for homework, unless she comes to you, stay out of it. For some kids a set homework time helps, but it sure doesn't seem to with many. Let school deal with her lack of writing, unfinished work, etc... If school gives an assignment requiring parental involvement, contact the teacher if you do not feel working wth difficult child would benefit anyone or jut cause a lot of stress.

    As for cleaning? I wish you luck. I am a procrastinating slob and it is hard to get the house clean the first time, much less after the kdis have had a chance to 'look' for something!

    A family cleaning hour one day a week (or 30 min or 15 min, whatever) can be a great way to get her istarted. Bribes, oops rewards can also be helpful. Saddly the bribee soon wants more and bigger for the same things. You can also get rid of things if he won't clean.

    One problem that our kids end up with is simply having way too much stuff. When your room is packed with toys, etc... already, putting a new toy away can seem overwhelming. It would be a good idea to keep possessions to a minimum so that everything has a home that readily accessible. You can go through her clothes wehn you do laundry. Pitch anything she cannot wear and if needed play dumb. You could keep favorite shirts to make a quilt of, and it could lesson anxiety from losing these possessions.

    You can go through her other stuff with or without her, There are pros and cons to each one and every person and situation is unique.

    You can make a play mat that she could just fold/roll up and her stuff would be in about the same position. They work well for puzzles and cards, and might for other things. This is a felt mat that you can roll up an tie, not something super difficult. Here is a kink to the amazon page with these on it:,k:puzzle+mat They range in size from TDC Games 36" X36", yo Ravensburger's 46" X26" to White Mtn's 36" X 48". They have different materials, but it is easy to make and use one out of felt. Just buy however much felt you want (sold on bolts at fabric stores, NOT the precut squares!) for the size you want to make, make the edges straight, sew on elastic loops at one end of the fabric (use 2-4, whatever you want),, and if decoration s desired, then decorate.

    I made one in about an hour, including buying the fabric. I used a hardback book to get the corners to be 90degrees, a yardstick and a sharpie to mark the edges, and pinking shears on three edges. The elastic was sewn onto one pinked edge directly across from the straight edge. The straight edge is where you start to roll the mat up tightly when you are done for the time being. This edge is left straight because if it were pinked the little edges would end up all curled up. This is made for puzzles but can be used for other toys including those obnoxious little shoes/purses/whatevers from Barbies. (been there done that iwth a friend's kid).

    Having a list of everything that is part of cleaning her room, play area, whatever can also be a huge help. then you can give her a few min and have her race to beat the clock. Break each chore down to small steps on the list also. For example the list could say "change the lightbulb". Seems simple, but is it really? Here are the steps to changing the bulb if detailed:

    Look at the burned out bulb to see what size it is.
    Find replacement bulb.
    Make sure it is the right # watts.
    Make sure it will fit in the fixture.
    Make sure light is turned off.
    Unplug light if that is possible.
    Hold hand NEAR bulb to see if it is hot.
    If old bulb is hot, get an oven mitt to remove it or wait until it has cooled down.
    Gently unscrew bulb from fixture.
    Put bulb into trash can.
    Get new bulb out of package.
    Gently install bulb.
    Plug in light. Turn light on to verify that the bulb works.
    Put bulbs away where they belong.
    Throw away old bulb in safe container.
    Throw away any other trash.

    ALL of that is what we do in the minute or so it takes us to change a lightbulb. So if a task that fast is that complex, imagine how hard it would be to 'clean your room'???

    The list can help with that, and you could even break it into several cleaning sessions.

    One thing my mom used to do was to take a book or hand sewing into my room and sit in there while I cleaned. She did NO cleaning unless something was too heavy, and she kept me moving. Otherwise before long I was curled up in a book. She would direct me to the next step as needed.
  9. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    we are pretty routined here, but i am in the opposite camp in that homework is a non-negotiable for me--it needs to be done.

    what worked best for us was to *immediately* do it after school. i mean it literally-not even a snack before its done...she was kind of lucky i let her pee first. i found that if she was allowed to relax or unwind (and believe me, she probably desperately needed to)--that she'd NEVER get back on track. some kids are easily redirectible at say, 7pm...mine wasnt. and frankly, our lifestyle wasnt conducive to evening homework. she needed to still be in school mode to get it accomplished and it was what worked best for us.

    but do note: she didnt have an afterschool activity, she was home by 2:30ish, and had last lunch--so i wasnt inhumane ;-D

    as she's gotten older she does take the initiative and does it durning the school day or on the bus, so it hasnt been a gigantic issue lately. it is still near impossible to self start any kind of multi step long assignment and i do still need to step in to break it down and spread it over several days (she'd probably do it in the end, but i cant take the wind up of anxiety and complaints that lead up to it).

    i did step in with the teacher once last year on an assigment that was in-sane and we all worked together to modify it...after all of our teamwork, the assignment was modified for the entire class, because it was outrageous for all of them.

    i hope i'm not cursing myself, lol--but this all has worked nicely for us.

    as for clean up, well, i wouldnt be the right person to ask, lol--but i'd like to just say, good luck with that. and that if this in any way involves legos, barbies, MLP, polly pockets or any other form of play that has things that need to be put together or set up or anything that you'd be fighting a tough battle. *no one* wants to spend 8 hours putting together barbies pool and just when you get to play be told to clean it up--mom's included. i once had a MLP village set up across my formal living room for the better part of 6 months, lol....and we lived.
  10. bigbear11

    bigbear11 Guest

    Thanks so much for everyone's thoughts and suggestions.

    Re homework she desperately needs a break when she gets home but it is virtually impossible to get her back on track. I think the best option is to let her stay for 30 min or so after school and get it done... her teacher mentioned this last week actually. We talked with Trex on Saturday morning and she suggested that she stopped playing or TV at about 4 and do her homework. We will try this since it was her idea but I will be shocked if this works. Have tried before and she "not ready yet".

    Re cleaning. I think we will talk more with her about everyones responsibility and get her input and talking about the consequences. Then stick to it... with us putting up what we have to pick up. And just to clarify - I wasn't talking about having to clean up totally (like Lego "creations" or stuff like that) but the loose pieces of stuff and toys that aren't "in process" ;-).

    Thanks again guys!!
  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I understood that you were having her clean up the loose bits and detritus, not the entire project. For some kids the difference between what is actually needed for the projct and the rest of the stuff they strew around is not something they really comprehend. I can remember my mother talking through that process with me. Not doing it, just asking if the item would contribute to the finished project/game/whatever and how? Then if it didn't, why would leaving it out help? Why would leaving it out hurt? It took quite a few sessions of doing this, but eventually I could just pick up what didn't apply and leave the stuff I needed out in my project area.

    Another thing that you might find helpful. Wiz' montessori preschool had a stack of carpet samples, those little mats that so often schools have, maybe 2 ft by 3 ft in size. each child would get a mat and the things they were working/playing with had to stay on the mat. At the end of the time allowed for that activity, they had to clean up their own mats. They could put a mat in a special place with their name on it if they watned/needed to keep something intact on it.

    Why not try that? the mat doesn't have to be fancy, could be a carpet piece, a placemat, a small board or a big cutting board. Just a specific area that her things had to be in.

    Another idea would be to make chore cards. husband once used business cards (he never used his for anything else, lol!) and wrote a chore on the back of each card. Then the kids had to pick a card and do what was on it. This won't work forever, but the novelty of it makes it useful periodically.
  12. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Maybe, think about the language you use. We used to get into huge arguments with difficult child over all sorts of stuff - and the problem wasn't the task, it was the language... we used the same word for multiple meanings, and he didn't know which was what.

    For example, in our house, "clean up" means everything goes away... a.k.a. "company-ready house". But "tidy up" means clear the walkway... that is, collect up what you're working on enough so that others can safely pass through the area without getting hurt and without damaging the project. The more you can differentiate your language, the more they get to know what the expectations are.
  13. bigbear11

    bigbear11 Guest

    Insane, great point. We probably aren't very clear.