Mar 182012

So we play a game after every meal time so we can clean off Thomas’ face and then clean his gums/teeth. Our hope is that by doing this now we can instill more of these games, such as cleaning up toys or getting dressed etc. Who knows though, this just may be a stage where he does what we want and as a toddler he does nothing… I’m sure that if we keep this up he will be more likely to allow us to do these things…

I was curious though if more parents do things like this to get the behaviors they want. This is the only song that we sing for Thomas like this and as soon as we do he opens his mouth so we can clean his gums/teeth. He still hates getting his face cleaned, but tolerates it more when we are singing the clean your face song.

Please share in comments if we are just lucky right now or if this behavior will last during toddler age!

  32 Responses to “Do You Play Games to Get Things Done With Your Kids? IE Chores/Cleaning?”

  1. “Clean up, clean up
    Everybody, everywhere.

    Clean up, clean up
    Everybody do your share.”

    I learned this from the Early Head Start program we have been blessed to have our little participate in the past couple of years. It helps, but the biggest key is consistency – always do what you want to teach. I still have difficulty with that & it shows in her level of cooperation with me.

    • Thanks for the reply Kina. Thanks for letting me know that we should continue this and that it does indeed work to some degree. If we are one thing, we are consistent :)

      • Yes playing games to help the children do chores is always good. I have went through all stages from singing the Barney song like Kina above to giving them stars for completing their chores…it helps!

        • Thanks Serenity… I remember as a teenager flipping through channels and having Barney come on and wanting to tear my eyes out. Then it was Teletubbies and now I believe Yo Gaba Gaba is the popular show that captivates children and turns them into TV zombies.

          You have a good message… you do what works for certain stages and teach them that everyone does their share and has responsibilities!

  2. Yes. Unfortunately, it isn’t going to be this easy. And if you’re like me, singing to my kids only scares them…even now that they’ve grown up.

    My advice would always be to talk to your keeps. Explain why you are doing everything. Confide little goofy secrets with them. Always be communicating. In your case, if you sing well, sing. Develop trust with the little human the same way you would with a big one.

    Just my two cents….

    Cute, cute baby!

    • Thanks for commenting. I’m not a great singer but we figured the singing was something that he responded to. As he gets older the singing may not work and we may have to do something else but I hope it continues to work! :)

  3. Thanks for reading my blog! I figured it was time to stop lurking and let you know that I read yours as well! I don’t really play games to get things done with my son, but when I was his hands and face after meals, or playing outside, I frequently “sing” Just Keep Washing (like Dory from Nemo) while rubbing his hands together, and then make a silly noise while vigorously rubbing his face with a cloth. He likes it, and I guess he sees it as a game. I believe the key is repetition of something, anything, that makes them happy while going through an unpleasant experience like face washing!

    • Jon that may be it, that may be the reason that Thomas tolerates his face washed and “clean the mouth” :)

  4. Totally depends on the kid’s personality! Miles is very, very independent. It’s a “you can lead a horse to water” situation with him. Games and songs do NOT work with him, at least not so far. What works for us is consistent modeling and persistent attempts at enticing him to try things even if he has refused before. So, brushing teeth – Daddy brushes his teeth while Miles brushes his teeth. We let him do it himself. Wiping his face we have just done consistently whether he likes it or not, and when I started noticing that he did not like having dirty hands after a meal, I started offering him a napkin – eventually he started using it! Picking up toys so far is not too successful, but when possible we do it in front of him and comment on the fact that we are picking up the toys… he at least picks up his markers and puts them away, so progress has been made even on that front.

    But other kids love games and songs… it really depends. You just have to try different things and see what gets the best response! And definitely adjust as necessary as they grow and change.

    • Thanks Erin, I’m not sure if this is a phase that we are just having good luck in and will be able to continue this singing to get the behavior we want or if we will have to change it.. I know that within the next few months once Thomas starts crawling around and becomes mobile everything will probably change so we’ll see… You all know that I will be blogging about it! Haha!

  5. Nice! Singing is always good, if not for chores then at least for his musical education. ;-) Hey, it’s a language too!
    My kiddies (twins) are now at the stage where they demand to clean their own face after dinner so we hand them a wipe and let them at it. Okay, maybe some extra wiping by mom/dad is required. Also they proceed to clean the table afterwards. I’m sure it won’t last but it’s nice all the same.

    • I was meaning to mention this and I don’t know if it has anything to do with Thomas’ personality or not but he will wipe his face with his bib if there is more than a little bit of food on it. He does this perhaps a half dozen times during each meal and at first I was having him keeps his hands down because the bib would end up IN his mouth and he would play but now that his motor skills are better I really think he is trying to just wipe off his face a little. He keeps it pretty clean…

  6. I agree with Erin. It depends on the child. I think sometimes parents forget who is the parent and when you have to start negotiating with your children to get them to do what they should be doing in the first place you’re no longer the parent. When I had my first child my mother and my grandmother told me to take control in the cradle not when they are toddlers. It will make it twice as hard to get control over the situation. I’ve never had a problem with my children and I have three. My son was the only one who was afraid of water so bath time was not fun but in his case I did make a game out of it for him so that he could see I was not going to let the water “get him”. Brushing teeth was fun for them because they liked electric toothbrushes I gave them “special wash clothes” for them to wash their faces and hands. I choose the softest ones I could find. They picked it all up pretty quickly and didn’t fuss when i washed their face. My son would say to me “hurry up you know I am tired”. lol He talked very early! Must have been all that reading I did to him before he was born. So what I am saying is if you need to play games to get your child to do something and that works for you do it but how long are you willing to do it? What happens when he outgrows the games and totally refuses to do anything? What are you going to do then? Buy him a toy? Xbox? iPad? Just something to think about.

    • Lori, Thanks for the reply.

      I’m not sure what Thomas will be like in the future. He is just now at the age where he can actually understand things through repetition so him learning this was actually an accident. Once we saw that he reacted to it in a favorable way we began doing it each meal-time instead of just every few meals or when we remembered.

      I feel like you are judging me without reason (at least in your last sentence). I am by no means a pushover parent. Perhaps I’m overreacting to your comment of just buying a toy/xbox/ipad to elicit the behavior I want out of my son, but truthfully I do not know exactly what I will do then… we aren’t there yet. We’ll adjust and adapt. Thomas probably will have some of those things, not because I was trying to buy his good graces, but because he earned them in my eyes.

  7. My toddler and I played Cinderella and Snow White. We groused and complained about how much work the stepsisters and the dwarves required us to do. Even though my daughter didn’t accomplish much in the way of helping, it allowed me to get my work done while still interacting together. Thomas, however, might object to the role of Cinderella.

  8. Whatever works…singing may work now, and lots of good comments above, I also have used the
    If this then that approach,
    timer, hurry beat the timer approach,
    and the stickers on the hand….wallchart approach
    But my new, old favorite,
    is quietly putting my finger down for my grandson to grab, which he stil does without question……and lead him quietly where I need him to go…I don’t talk, that spoils it……this has actually been working with all three, so I pass it along…..

  9. Consistancy always helps. Songs, chants and rhymes still get my boys moving when it comes to chores and things like getting ready for bed.

  10. Clean up. Clean up.
    Everybody do it.

    Clean up. Clean up.
    It’s time to tidy up!

    I sing this one with my kids to get them to help me tidy up the toys. I learned it at my daughter’s preschool when she was about two and a half. She’s 4 and my son is 2 now and most days when I start singing the song they automatically start cleaning up before I even get to the playroom to help out.

    I think it’s a great idea to sing songs and play games to engage kids in chores. Just because something has to be done doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. :D

    • Great Nancy! Glad to hear that you have been using a clean-up song for around 18 months with success! This was exactly the type of reply I was looking for! Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  11. It will probably get a little more difficult when he gets older, but I do sing songs with my daughter to get her to do certain things. Kayla is 16 months old. I sing a clean up song when I want her to clean up her toys. I actually learned it from my nephew who will be 3 soon. He said his mommy (my sister) sings it to him. I made up a diaper song when Kayla was a few months old because she liked to squirm a lot when we changed her diaper. It helped for a long time, but the last few months it doesn’t work as much. I sing a scrub a dub dub song when she’s taking a bath because she hates getting her hair washed. These songs seem to help, but some of them she seems to grow out of a little bit.

    • Jenny W-K, how have you been adapting since some of the songs have been “outgrown”? Do you have to be more direct and stern to get your daughter to do certain things or behave during those times or are those times still struggles?

      I’ve been looking up some psychology stuff on babies (of which there are hundreds or thousands) and there are many disagreements about when children can actually understand discipline etc.

      • We are struggling with diaper time right now since the song doesn’t really work anymore. She wants to crawl away, sometimes with no diaper on. I try to distract her by talking to her, like telling her what we’re about to do or asking her questions. I may even hand her a toy or something to keep her busy for a moment. I try to adjust. I also tell her that she just has to stay still while I change her diaper, then she can get down. I’ll let her down after she gets her diaper changed, but before she has pants on. So then she is happy she got to get down, but she’ll come back so I’ll put her pants on. Compromise. LOL

        I’ve read a lot of things about how kids at this age can’t understand (or fully understand) discipline. I honestly think it depends on the kid. I’ve done a lot of babysitting over the years (my mom used to run a babysitting service out of our house when I was a teenager), and I have two nephews (one who is now 17 and the other will be 3 next month). I used to watch my older nephew for years, and now I watch my younger nephew all the time. What I’ve seen over the years is that some kids comprehend discipline earlier than others and to different degrees. Kayla understands no and she understands when she is doing something that she’s not supposed to be doing. She doesn’t understand WHY it’s bad or WHY she shouldn’t do something. She doesn’t understand that she can hurt herself, hurt someone else, break something, etc. But she does understand, for example, that she is not supposed to touch the remotes if they are left out. She will still try to sneak off and get them, but if she knows she’s been caught, she’ll actually bring it to me or put it back. At this age, I know there isn’t much point in explaining why she can’t do something, so Imostly stickl to teaching her just not to do it. She’ll learn the reasoning as she gets older. She understands quite a bit though. I also give her time outs. So she knows when she does certain things, she will get a time out. This seems to help her do those things less and less because she hates the time out. At this age, the time out has to be in a play pen or something where they can’t get out, because she won’t stay put. She’s definitely at the age where she wants to test us all the time.

        • In discipline class we went to, the instructor put it this way… toddlers brains are telling them to “explore explore explore” and while they may remember that mommy said not to play with the lamp, the rest of their brain will usually override the part that does remember what they’ve learned because they want to touch and see everything!

          Thomas is a chore to put diapers on because he is constantly squirming, I push his shoulder blades flat (gently) that seems to help, but he can’t crawl away yet… I am not looking forward to that.

  12. Thomas is such a cute baby. :0) Singing is a wonderful and appropriate strategy to use with Thomas for his current age. It should also work well for him during the toddler stage since you have already set this strategy in motion. However, as he continues to grow your strategy will need to change. Keep singing and be consistent…

    • Thanks T.S.,

      I’m not expecting to sing to him when he’s 8 years old to get him to pick up his toys or something like that, I hope that he will do that because I told him they need to be picked up.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and sharing on the strategy (at least through the toddler age!).

  13. As someone who is not a parent, I have to say, I’d never think that everything, even something so simple as cleaning your kid’s face, requires strategy, forethought, and maybe even a bit of deception.

    • Things they don’t like require strategy.. have you ever seen a child getting their nose wiped in public? That aversion to getting the face wiped starts pretty early…

  14. We play games, sing songs; making daily tasks fun and developmentally appropriate makes life so much more enjoyable and pleasant for all of us! Not everything has to be a power struggle, right? Enough of those come naturally, esp. as the twos roll around:) Great job for being creative with your little one! You asked about completing chores in your post; I have a post written on that topic that I’d love to share with you I hope you enjoy! Thanks for reading and sharing; I’m enjoying hearing all about your little one; he is adorable!

    • Thanks Pamela for sharing that link about chores with toddlers! I’ll check it out and hope others interested in it will too!

  15. We did lots of little songs. My daughter loved the toothbrush song “brush, brush brush your teeth” to row row row your boat.” As they got a little older and could scrub themselves Hubby or I named a body part and challenged the kids to wash that part. We set it up by talking through the bath when they were little. It’s hard to remember quite what we did when they were under one, but I seem to recall lots of songs. When they started walking, we got both to help pick up toys by playing a special “clean up” song – we used a Big Bad Voodoo daddy tune. The sooner they got the toys picked up, the more time they had to dance with me.

    One thing I wished I stopped earlier was toe tickles, zerberts and silly faces during diaper changes. The stragegy worked when my son really little, but when he refused to use the potty at age 3 because diaper changes were “more funner” I realized I needed to lay off the games and be all business.

    Some great ideas from the other responders too.

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