Getting them to understand why they should pick up
As for me walking around the room cheerfully picking up things, I'll try, perhaps that is the reason he doesn't like to pick things up - I don't either, LOL!
I think if you cheerfully pick things up as a way of making him cheerfully pick things up you'll get grumpy pretty quickly when he doesn't start picking up.
should I make it a point to do this in front of him? Should I say anything or just let the actions speak for themselves?
It has to be honest with no ulterior motives.
I'd clean up when it was convenient for me. If you clean up when he's around you can ask him for help and he'll get to absorb the process even if he isn't participating. But I wouldn't do it around him as a way of changing him into someone who will clean up after himself.
Here's something Dawn Adams wrote on the Unschooling Discussion list:
Ok, I think I'll share my newly thought of philosophy of housework here. It started when my sister was over and chasing the kids around. I was straightening up the living room and had just finished piling up blocks (Big cardboard ones. We have, in all, 10 or eleven different kinds of wood, plastic and cardboard blocks. I feel so wealthy. :) ) when my son (2) ran into the room, saw the blocks and immediately tore down the pile. I smiled and shook my head.
My sister, who'd arrived in time to see this, sternly said, "Harry! Your mother just finished putting those away!"
When she said that I felt offended. Didn't she know I only pile those blocks so that Harry can knock them down?
And there was the Aha! I looked around the room at the clean living room and realized that was why I did any cleaning.
We don't clean up messes to have a clean house. We clean up messes so there is room for more mess! Now I think of cleaning up after my kids as replacing a canvas.
I do it with the thought that by giving them room again and a bare floor and organized toys to pick from I'm handing them the tools to write another mess onto our house. It's meant that at the end of a day, or sometimes a few days in a row, I just let the mess stay, because really, it's a work of art or a story. Maybe it isn't finished. Maybe it's too interesting to be gotten rid of so soon. It also clears up my feelings of resentment about doing the bulk of it. I like being the one to reset the house so that we all can live another, different mess the next day.
At the store the other day he saw a box on the floor and immediately picked it up and put it perfectly in it's proper spot. ??
Because that's where boxes belong in the store :-) Organizing and cleaning can be very satisfying.
But at home toys weren't bought to be stored neatly on the shelves. They're meant to be out being played with.
When he's not playing with them you want them put away. But why? From your child's point of view: When you're not sitting on the furniture, do you put it away? Why not?
In the family room he has lots of toys in there all the time, but I just don't like having them on the floor all the time because it's hard for people to walk over them
You have two people with wants that conflict. So the way you're modeling that conflicting needs are to be resolved is that the person who is bigger and stronger gets to make the little person do what the bigger person wants.
he has lost many toys to the dog and I'm not sure if he understands?? He is almost 6.
Maybe. But perhaps between cleaning up and losing toys, losing toys is the lesser evil.
Up until my daughter was 11/12 cleaning up even a little mess was overwhelming to her. To her it felt like she'd be cleaning forever. She didn't know where to start. She didn't know where to put things, even the obvious things. She didn't want me to keep telling her what to do next and didn't want to decide on her own what to do next.
You can fight with him for the next 6 years (or 12 years if he's a late bloomer ;-). Or you can cheerfully accept that you'll have to be the one cleaning -- as you accept that you're the one who needs to take responsibility for meals.
Ask for his help. And be very appreciative that he's interrupted something that to him is a lot more important in order to do something for you. Even if -- and especially if -- you feel he's doing something trivial or he could have helped a lot more.
Who would you rather help: someone who hovered over you, nagging you for not doing the job the way they thought it should be done, or someone who asked you to help and thanked you for what you could do?
I have made it a point to have several tables of different heights in the family room to encourage him to keep things off of the floor, I don't leave my things on the floor, etc.
Some people eat at the kitchen table. Some people eat in front of the TV. It's personal preference.
We can model what works for us. But modeling isn't a sneaky way of making someone do something your way. It's an idea that they can check out to see if it might work for them. They can take it or leave it if something else would work better.
For most of my daughter's life she has drawn and eaten sprawled out on the floor. She even ate lunch sprawled on the kitchen table several times. I always used the couch for drawing, reading and watching TV and sat "properly" in a chair to eat. She's now more likely to sit on the couch for drawing and sits in a chair for eating. Not because she's finally picked up on my model and is doing it right, but because her body needs different things than it did before and that's what works better for her now.
But sometimes he says he doesn't know what should happen, like if he leaves his toys on the floor in the living room, I bring up that the dog might chew on them, but he still leaves them there, what am I missing???
That he's 6 and has hardly any experience in the world and is developmentally not an adult.
We see them acting fairly competently as though they were thinking and feeling as adults but their brains don't work the way adult brains do. They don't have the same understanding, don't have the same capacities for figuring things out, don't have the same mastery over their emotions that adults do. They have different needs than we do.
If we treat them as doing the best they can -- even if we think they can do better -- they will do the best they can. If we treat them as incompetent, they'll feel incompetent and respond incompetently. So if he's doing the best he can, help him :-)
Shift gears to help him. See the responsibility as yours and him as a busy volunteer you hope might help a bit. Say, "Hey, let's get these picked up." Throw in occasionally, "So dog doesn't get to them." It can help when dealing with volunteers to ask him to pick up something specific like the stuffed animals. Even a small mess can look overwhelming to a six year old. It's okay if he helps little at first. His help will increase as he gets older.