This month's idea comes from Janis Hughes, a Remedial Services Provider with Healthy Homes Family Services, Inc. located in Avoca, Iowa. Janis' favorite STEP idea is about toy clean-up.
The one intervention that I have used, absolutely love, and have taught to parents more than any other is the garbage bag with the toys routine. For example, the child is told at 9:00 am on Saturday, that it's time to pick up their toys, strewn all over their room. (This must be an age-appropriate expectation, but even little kids can do a simple task such as putting their blocks into the can.) At 9:15, the caregiver comes in and compliments the child on the accomplishment thus far.
However, if the child has not made a move to pick up the toys, the caregiver explains that they'll return in 15 minutes when the timer goes off, and there will be consequences if the toys are not picked up by then. Caregiver sets a timer (where the child can hear it) and when the timer goes off, they enter the room with an opaque plastic garbage bag, and calmly, quickly and quietly places the toys into the bag. When finished, the caregiver explains to the child that the toys will be up in the caregiver's closet, and next Saturday, the child can have them all back when they pick up their toys within the time frame allotted.
It is important that the caregiver not become involved in any emotional reactions and remains calm, soothing, and reassuring while remaining steadfast and matter-of-fact. I have found that many children soon make this routine into a game, and try to out-do themselves! This even works for older children and electronics. One may not be able to bag a gaming system or a TV set, but the power cords are almost always removable these days, and they fit nicely into a small grocery bag. It is amazing how motivated a child can become when gaining back his or her video game is at stake!
Here is an idea from Lynda who works in a preschool that uses Early Childhood STEP with parents. She also notes that "I use it with my children, too" - something we hear often.
I love STEP! I took my first STEP workshop in 1992, and found it to be the best way to parent our four children. I have been using it ever since, and think it is because of STEP that I have been so successful in my business.
I had many of my preschool parents who ask me questions about how I handle child/parent situations, so I purchased the Early Childhood STEP program, and have been leading workshops ever since. Thanks and keep up the great work!
Lynda Williams, Owner, Small Wonders Preschool Program
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