Kids Are Vultures

And the father of the year award goes to ME!

Well, at least that’s what I told the kids this morning. That’s right. I walked up to my office which is an open study area upstairs and I was halted by a massive pile of crayons. The same crayons that for 2 days now have been the target of my idle threats.

It seems our extra workload this week has created an opportunity for the kids to take advantage of us and leave their work and play behind. We’ve had a daily grind of ‘clean up that room’, ‘clean up this room’, ‘clean up that room again.

Hey, wasn’t that room just cleaned??’. Jeez, makes me dizzy.

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Kids are like angels. Kids are like vultures. Kids are angelic vultures! You ever see those who flirt with danger on the Animal Planet channel? What do they always say when handling wild, dangerous beasts? “Never show fear!” Ditto with kids. On a great day, angels and the minute you show fear or weakness, vultures.

Right? They’re kind of smart like that.

So, this is a weak week – Mommy & Daddy are dragging butt. Vultures. If I’ve said ‘pick up that mess’ once this week, I’ve said it 100 times. So today, new tactic.

I’ve used this tactic before with success, but I warn you, it’s like any good negotiating and the #1 rule of negotiating applies. If you are not prepared to walk away (or carry through the threat in this case), then you lose.

To Get Your Kids to Clean, Get Creative

So, today I say to the kids, ‘Kids, I am about to make you the happiest kids in the whole world, which surely will qualify me for Dad of the Year!’ Oh, their eyes were wide open and I even think I saw their ears turning forward and towards me like cats and horses do. I said, ‘Cleaning sucks! Picking up after yourself sucks. So starting right now, you no longer have to clean up your mess!’ ‘Oh boy’, they must have thought. Surely, this must be like the kiddy lottery. Grins started crossing their faces as the only thought I could imagine they were thinking was ‘Ah ha! We’ve finally beaten our parents into submission! Great joy!’

Vultures. That’s when I let them know why they no longer have to clean up. “You no longer have to clean up after yourself because everything I find on the floor, I am throwing into the trash. I shall relieve you of the heartache and misery that accompanies cleaning.” Smiles are gone by this time. Their eyes are no longer trained on me with excitement, instead, they are exchanging glances of ‘Did he just say trash?’

Follow Through on Your Words

But again, you’d better be prepared to follow through for this to work. Knowing this, I started with the crayons. In the trash they went. Must have been like 84 crayons on the floor. Well, more like 168 half crayons and crayon wrappers. To the kids, this is their art, their creativity. To me, I’ve just thrown away some screwed up crayons begging for death. Next week, when we go to Target, we will pick up a new box of crayons for $3. The kids will once again experience creative joy and I will relish knowing that we have whole crayons again in a box that has its dignity intact. Ziplocs are for food!

Sounds like I’ve used this trick a few times eh? I have. But be forewarned, you can only pull this off maybe 2 times a year depending on the age. Once they catch on, they’ll throw all their old toys on the floor knowing you will throw them out and get them new ones. Vultures.

So, right now they are cleaning like crazy. Stopping to occasionally ask for clarity. ‘It’s simple’, I say, ‘if it is touching the carpet it’s outta here.’ To which Jonathan says ‘Even my desk?’ Vulture.

The house is clean and it didn’t cost me the time and aggravation of yelling. It cost me a $3 box of new crayons. I win Vultures, if only for today. 😉

The Challenge

  1. Kids are quick learners. Teach your kids how a system works on managing chores and maintain cleanliness in your home. Make a routine and engage them with age appropriate tasks. I bet, they will really enjoy it. Don't keep taking all burden. First, exhausting yourself and then getting bitter. Teach them to grow as responsible and independent people.
  2. How do you teach your kids discipline, does it involve cleaning up their own mess?
  3. How do you engage them in teamwork, are they involved in being responsible for cleanliness around the home?
  4. How are they learning leadership skills, do they experience consequences for their actions?

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