Dear Grandma:

I’m an 18-year-old college student who babysits. One girl I babysit is four years old, an only child, and she’s a sweetheart, but she doesn’t clean up her toys when I tell her to. From what I gather, her mother always cleans up after her. I’ve tried coaxing her into it by saying things like “Here, I’ll clean with you” but she still won’t do it. I don’t want to discipline her but I don’t see how I can teach her to clean up after herself.

Thank you!

Dear Friend,

Have something wonderful planned for after the toys are picked up. You are on the right track to begin the job and then maybe say, “I can’t wait for this job to be done because there is something really wonderful we will do when all the toys are put away. Gee, I wish I had some help.” Then, ignore her and go very slowly. If she begins to help, tell her “Thank you. It is so much easier if we do it together and have some time for fun things.” If she helps, speed up the putting away so she doesn’t lose interest.

Also, you better have something planned, either a special craft or maybe a new book from the library. You know the child better than I so it will have to come from you. If the parent doesn’t require the toys being put away by the child, that’s her choice and not for you to criticize. However you can affect a different outcome when you are there.

Grandma Maggie