Friday, November 1, 2013

Doing it Right - When Your Child Refuses to Clean their Room

We've heard the saying..."If you want something done right, do it yourself".

But, what about that disgusting pigpen, your teenager calls a bedroom?

When it comes to cleaning up after themselves, we as parents eventually morph from housemaid to housewarden. Since they were little, we gave them baths, hand fed them, and picked up their room when they went down for their afternoon nap. Soon began the potty training, learning their manners, and understanding the word, no. Picking up their own toys became something we worked on together, but it was still something we did as parents, and easier to do it ourselves.

Soon, especially when our second child arrived, we had no time to pickup toys, and we just learn to tolerate the house looking like you just opened a pre-school. We dive in and enjoy our children making messes. It's healthy, educational, and encourages their sense of adventure...ok, now I'm trying to justify it, but it drove me crazy. I had to keep telling myself, "let them be children".

Something happens, however, between stepping on legos in the Kitchen, and our little darlings disappearing to their room and finding no trace of them. Oh, except for the milk left on the counter and dishes in the sink, we soon discover there's a teenager in the house. The messes are confined to the Kitchen, and the Laundry Room, where you discover that you had more glasses then you ever imagined, and your kid has way too many clothes!

This is when chores, and a healthy routine become very important. For your own sanity, if nothing else. Our youth learn responsibility at home, and what it takes to be a valuable member of a family unit, from us. Routines help build security, and trains them for the mundane world of minimum wage jobs. It's easier to instill consequences, too. If they don't finish the dishes, we can't eat, for example.

But what about their bedroom?

The bedroom is their business, and if they want to live with a mess, let 'em. Ah, not so fast, mister!

This is inconsistent with everything else I just wrote about. What about hygiene, responsibility, discipline, in the big city!

Yea, right! I know, and to use another cliche, "It's like pulling teeth". What do you do?

Here's some solutions that might work. Some I've tried...some offered by friends. Try them after you've exhausted through the lecture about responsibility, "blah, blah, blah", and complaining until your blue in the face. It's now time to take some action...
  • Set a deadline, and have them agree to it. By Friday, for example, of each week the room will be picked up, clothes put away, trash taken out, etc. If not, everything on the floor will be collected and thrown away. Follow through!
  • Take the door off the little princesses door, and expose to the world her filth and unmade appearance. Privacy is a valuable commodity and worthy of exploiting in your favor.
  • Change the Wi-Fi password daily, and give it out when the room is clean. This is their daily reward for doing what is expected of them. Courtesy of Dr. Laura.
  • Take the sheets off his bed, or remove it entirely, and leave the little slob a sleeping bag and a throw pillow. Worse case, he'll learn to be a minimalist.
Here's my favorite, and it really works. Resort back to when she was three. Clean it yourself.

Be respectful, and not in anger. Do it in love, and I mean this. Tackle the task as if she were a house guest. Don't go through her things, but arrange them in such a way that might appear you had...heck, you had to dust, right? Throw out the trash, hang up her clothes, wash her sheets, make her bed. Vacuum the floor; the whole nine yards. Do the unexpected. Be creative, have fun, and use it as a teaching moment.

You should only have to do this once, and I guarantee you're teenager will understand the true meaning, "If you want something done right, do it yourself".

Let me know how it goes.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

California Laws Providing Alternatives to Student Suspensions

When school resumes after the Winter Recess, Principals and District Supers will have additional disciplinary tools at their disposal toward students who misbehave. These tools are actually aimed to better serve the students, and places more responsibility onto those intrusted to care for our youth.

The California State Legislature has enacted several bills, AB 1729, AB 1732 and AB 2242, that will make changes to Section 48900 of the California Education Code (EDC). Prior to January 1st, 2013, administrators were given very little alternatives then to simply suspend, or expel a student who has committed a specified act, according to the EDC. in addition, the law allowed for counseling and enrollment into an anger management program, but in most cases, it was just enough to get rid of the student, and pass the problem onto someone else.

For the student, however, this only enforces the perception that nobody cares.

This change to the EDC demands the attention of parents and guardians! No longer will we have to accept the determination of the Superintendent that the student must 'go away' and be dealt with outside the school environment. When the bills were written, the goals of the State of California were further enforced when it declared the following:
  • The public policy of this state is to ensure that school discipline policies and practices support the creation of safe, positive, supportive, and equitable school environments where pupils can learn.
  • The overuse of school suspension and expulsion undermines the public policy of this state and does not result in safer school environments or improved pupil behavior. Moreover, such highly punitive, exclusionary practices are associated with lower academic achievement, lower graduation rates, and a worse overall school climate.
It used to be that when a student committed a specified act, the principal would suspend the student, and then immediately request a conference with the student and parent. It's during this informal conference where the student is informed of the disciplinary action and given an opportunity to present his/her side of the story. Within 30 days the student is given a hearing where the student can present oral and written testimony and/or evidence. In most cases (if the student was found guilty) he/she would be removed from the school setting, and be ordered by the Superintendent to be placed in an alternative learning environment.

This has proved, for years, to be non-productive and research has actually shown that non-punitive (positive discipline) and in-school discipline strategies are more effective than suspension and expulsion for addressing the majority of student misconduct. Furthermore, public policy of the state " to provide effective interventions for students who engage in acts of problematic behavior in order to help them change their behavior and avoid exclusion from school."

This is huge, for this reduces the chance for further humiliation of the student, and forces them to be accountable for their actions, leading to a community of responsible adults ...and this is what we want!

Here is a sampling of what the California State Legislature suggests as alternative correction approaches. By all means is this NOT all inclusive...
  • School Counselor or Psychologist, or other school support personnel
  • Study Teams, Guidance Teams, or other intervention-related teams who can partner with the student and parents
  • Comprehensive assessment to create individualized education program
  • Positive behavior approach with tiered interventions that occur during the schoolday on campus
  • After-school programs that address specific behavioral issues or expose students to positive activities and behaviors
  • any of the alternatives described in EDC Section 48900.6
Some of these alternative approaches to keeping the student in school also removes the heavy burden of a parent having to find this "alternative education", where parents are already stressed and overwhelmed. This student misconduct is often times the result of home troubles, i.e, parent drug abuse, violence, etc. This is not to say that parents are off the hook, however; quite the opposite. The parent(s) or guardian must be involved and made to be accountable for being a more active participant.

Unfortunately, the parent may have already 'checked out', and is the premise behind TORYS Day. See Parenting Takes a Village.

This new law won't require school administrators to use these alternate avenues to discipline and work with misbehaving, and troubled youth, but the good ones will, and their actions will encourage many to Take Our Responsibility for our Youth Seriously.