July 02, 2015

Q: My son is always leaving his room a mess. I told him to clean up his room for seven weeks. I tried everything! i helped him but he left it a mess, i told him we'll give him a prize if he does so but he just picked up one thing and just sat in his bed and talked to himself. i pretended that a monster will eat his toys and nothing happened. Whatever i do he does nothing!!! Help!

A: First of all, it might be very helpful to explicitly communicate (in writing or picture form) what you mean by “cleaning your room.” It can help for a child to know exactly what you want to see. For instance, you might spell out:  1) Make your bed. 2) Toys in bin. 3) Clothes in hamper. I love the prize idea—to take it a step further, you can get the prize (or a picture of the prize) and attach it to a calendar. Tell your son he can get 1 check or sticker for every task he does in his room and when he earns X amount of checks, he can get the prize AND pick the next prize he will work on. Make him involved in the planning process.

Answered by Rachel Busman, Psy.D.


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