Just to give you some context before you read the dialogue below. Alex is the fastest cleaner-upper ever; Libby's fast too, but she'll do anything to avoid cleaning up. Time-outs worked like a dream with Alex; not so much with Libby.
We realized that time-outs don't work the same with Libby when, a while back, I said, "Clean up or you'll go to time-out. One..." She shook her head and said, "Huh-uh." "Two..." She yelled out, "No." "Three." She screamed, "Ne-ver!"
If we have treats out and we're all about to eat treats, I'll say to Libby, "Finish cleaning up and you can have treats with us." She'll say, "I don't want treats," and while we're smacking our lips eating treats, she won't even complain about it once.
We have very little leverage.
And we think she's very funny. I guess because she's only 3.5 and we think it will eventually pass, because we're at least consistent with our methodology.
This picture is from the other night. Alex did almost all the clean up but left just a little for Libby. We told her she could come upstairs when she's done cleaning up. Upstairs is where everything for the rest of the night was happening; Libby knew this. It was where she could have had a bath with Avery which she likes. She could have played with Alex which she likes. She could have watched Super Nanny with us on my bed which she really likes (oh, the irony).
She finally just fell asleep on the chair, obviously not touching the tiny bit of mess that was there. The next morning, though, she had it picked up in 1 minute because she couldn't come to breakfast till it was done. Good news, I guess mealtime is leverage.
This dialogue happened today.
Libby: I want to play Chutes and Ladders.
Mom: Okay, great. Put Candyland away first, please.
Libby: (whining) I don't want to. I want Alex to do it. Where's Alex?
Mom: You can play C & L after you put Candyland away.
Libby: (hopeful) Just send me to my bed.
(She really likes her bed 'cause she just falls asleep there. That's one great thing about Lib; she's a fantastic sleeper.)
Mom: (changing tactics at the last minute because I was about to say, You'll go to your bed) No, you'll have to sit in the corner in a time-out if you don't put the game away.
Mom: (nursing Avery) One...two...three. Go to time out.
Libby: (just standing there)
Mom: (yelling upstairs) Steve, please help come manage Libby.
Steve: (yelling back) Just put her in her bed.
Mom: No, she wants to go to her bed. Please put her in the corner.
(Steve walking down the stairs)
Libby: (tattling) You told him to put me in time-out and he's not doing it.
(Steve tries not to let Libby see him laughing. Puts her in the corner.)
Libby is very happy to be sitting in time-out and not cleaning up the game. Her goal has been accomplished. She sings there. She tries to get Avery to come over so she can play with her.
She starts singing, "I'm ready to listen, I'm ready to listen..." over and over and over again till Alex is going insane.
Three minutes is up.
Mom: Libby, are you ready to clean up the game or do you want to sit in time-out for three more minutes?
Libby: Three more minutes.
This goes on at least five more times.
Libby: (sudden realization) Three minutes isn't very long.
Libby: Can I play C & L if I put Candyland away?
Mom: Yes. Are you ready?
(She leisurely picks up five cards while singing, then throws the five cards, then picks up five cards. Clearly the motivation to clean up the game is just not there. I've been racking my brain for leverage. Maybe treats? no... Maybe a one-on-one story? didn't work.)
Libby: Mom, I promise, promise, promise, if you let me play C & L I'll put it away when I'm done.
Mom: (Still thinking of leverage opportunities. Fortunately, while I was thinking, she cleans up the game.)