Multiple times during the day, we have our 4 year old take a break from playing to clean up her toys. It's a huge battle every time. Usually, she ends up on the ground saying that there are too many toys, she's too tired, her feet hurt, she's itchy, her throat hurts, etc. There is no end to the excuses for why she can't clean up. We make promises (e.g. we can do fun things if you clean up) and threats (e.g. read one book at bedtime instead of two). We follow through on the promises and threats, but the struggle is taxing on everyone.
- Taking toys away. This causes tears, but does not motivate.
- Praising when she does pick up toys. Still, the battles continue.
- Yelling. You can guess the efficacy of this one.
- Chore chart. She gets a sticker when she does her job. She ends up getting the sticker, but only because we have hounded her for a long time.
- Cleaning up with her, but only cleaning when she helps. Sometimes effective.
- Other ideas to little effect.
The toys are just one example of something we have to routinely do throughout the day that grows into something much more contentious than it really should be. Other regular battles are washing her hands, getting dressed, sitting on the potty, etc. The stress is bleeding into other areas of our life.
How can we get our 4 year old to do what we ask without the fight?