You’ve been there; walking down the hallway, when suddenly you pass that open door and for some instinctual reason you glance in, knowing instantly that you’ll live to regret it. Your (insert gender specific offspring-noun) has somehow summoned the demons of entropy into their room, and now the bedroom’s current state can only be explained by the popular theory that at random intervals in children’s’ rooms across the country, small Toys R Us’s appear and subsequently explode underneath the child’s bed. Yes, we’ve all been there (unless, of course, you don’t have children).
The kicker of this Lego-shrapnel assault on your little one’s floor is that, 9 times out of 9, you’re the one picking GI Joe grenades out of your foot as you clear the debris. There’s got to be an easier way, right? It’s got to be simpler for the miscreant responsible to clean the mess, right? No. No absolutely not. It’s never easier that way. But if that’s the way you chose to go, I suppose a little advice is in order.
There are two ways to coerce any basic life form into doing something: fear and reward. These two tactics work wonders, but strangely enough, fall apart when you attempt them concurrently. Rewarding a child with fear rarely succeeds, and making him or her fear the reward is not only needlessly difficult, but a simply preposterous notion. Just plain silly.
Let’s tackle fear first, as its more fun. There are two basic ways to utilize fear in child-coercion, and it breaks down to the two ways you make him or hear fear consequences. They can either fear your reaction to failing to complete a task set upon them (usually anger or disappointment), or they fear some bizarre and irrational consequence to their failure. Obviously, for someone with a vivid imagination and a twisted sense of humor, the latter can provide greater amusement.
For example, telling a child that you’ll be angry if they don’t clear their room isblah. Sure, it might get the job done, but where’s the pop? Where’s the excitement? Now, on the other side of the same coin, telling your child that if they don’t clean their room, communist gypsies will steal their Nintendo? That’s got pop. That’s a keeper. Remember, it doesn’t need to make sense; it just needs to strike the right chords. Telling a child that if they don’t clean they’ll be grounded? Yawn. Telling them that a messy room will cause a recession in the global economy? Now that’s an incentive. (Too long; didn’t read? Summary: Lie to your children)
With that timeless debate settled we now move back to the idea of rewarding the child. It’s quite simply really. Here’s some simple maths to prove its effectiveness: Stubborn child + candy / money / puppy / some kind of candy-dog = obedient child. The real challenge is determining the proper reward. Money is a played out notion, so try and be creative. Try toothpicks. Might not seem like a “totally rad” reward, but if you market it right and say they’respears stolen from a preposterously small savage tribe, then you’ve got something.
Try promising them any toy they want, as long as it costs $5 or less (and wish them good luck finding one). Or you can go really sneaky and try one of my favorites. Promise them a princely sum for a decent amount of work, but, upon completion of their half of the deal, let the whole thing fall apart in escrow.