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Here are just a few of the questions I have received and the answers that I gave.

Clean up your Room

The Question
We have two boys 8 and 11. They are both well behaved and we don't have any serious behavior problems to deal with. But we do have a problem with our 11 year-old. We have a rule that each day before leaving for school they are to put any dirty cloths in the laundry hamper, hang up any cloths they are not wearing and pick up and put away things that don't belong on the floor or their beds.

Our 8 year-old does his part everyday, but his brother says he forgets at least half the time. They share a bedroom so we are not sure how to discipline just one child. Nothing we have tried has worked very well (grounding, loss of privileges, constant reminders). We decided against shipping him to the South Pole (but it was a close vote). We have enjoyed reading your Q and As and are hoping you will have a suggestion we can use.

My Answer
You may be happy to know that you are the 4000th couple to post this question. Kids are born with a greater ability to get things out than to put things away.
The CO of my first squadron said it is a good rule to try to have
the same number of landings as you have takeoffs.

I raised three sons and two daughters and each one is special (aka different). A friend of mine used to say he had four kids…one of each. I'm sure you know what he means. The good news is that they were both born on planet Earth, which means they are both from the HUMAN species. This means they will respond to the fundamental principles of Discipline in predictable human ways. The five principles are:
1. RULES (What we are EXPECTED to do.) Like all of us your son fails this in some areas. Question: when was the last time YOU exceeded the speed limit?
2. LIMITS (How much AUTHORITY we have to do things our way.) We all desire less control by others and more Authority to do what we want.
3. CONSEQUENCES (The things that MOTIVATE us personally to either pay attention to or ignore the RULES and LIMITS.)
4. ACCOUNTABILITY (We either ARE or ARE NOT held accountable for our actions in ignoring the RULES and/or LIMITS)
5. CONSISTENCY (What percentage of the time we are held to answer for ignoring the rules.).

These are the five fundamental principles of all Effective Discipline where any group of individuals is attempting to achieve a common goal…in the Family, in School, in Business. This is particularly true in the Military where failure to apply all five principles spells disaster. (Applying any four out the five WILL NOT earn you a score of 80%)

Now lets see what we can do to Motivate your son. My suggestion for creating a quick turn around is to focus on the underlying "problem". By his own admission he identifies the problem as "forgetting". As a parent, who wants to help him, you need to accept his description of the problem and work with him to solve it.

Next time he doesn't "clean" his part of the room and he tells you he "FORGOT" Don't Yell, argue, lecture, etc. Just tell him to go do it. AND then tell him, "When you finish, cleaning your room please clean the bathroom."

He will try to start an argument by demanding to know, "Why!" And you answer by saying, "It will improve your memory." AND IT WILL if you do it every time he "FORGETS".

Motivation usually rises very rapidly. If he" forgets" three weeks later, another session in the bathroom will motivate a rapid recovery.


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