What to Do if Your Kid Leaves Dirty Dishes Laying Around

There are times when a parent has no clue what to do. This especially happens when our innocent babies and precious toddlers become willful and defiant ‘tweens and teens. Kids capable of making choices out of laziness and disregard for their parents. So, what do you do when your kid leaves dirty dishes lying around? Let’s learn from this Dad!

Poised, charming 23-year old Annie sat on the couch in my counseling office today and told me a brilliant parenting strategy that her dad pulled on her when she was a young teen.

As a middle-schooler, Annie used to leave her dirty dishes setting out on the kitchen counter.  A very typical problem with kids – but an issue that many parents find hard to put an end to. Her single dad got on her case.  He told her not to leave her dirty dishes sitting out in the kitchen.

Well, she thought she would test the limits and show him he couldn’t boss her around!  She stopped leaving her dirty dishes in the kitchen.  Instead, she started leaving them in her bedroom!  Once he discovered her pile of dirty dishes with crusted-on food, he came up with a plan to deal with his defiant daughter. He went out and purchased the largest package of cheap paper plates that he could find.

Teen girl happily washing dishes at kitchen sink

The Effective “Opportunity to Learn” when your kid leaves dirty dishes

Annie wasn’t allowed to use real plates again until she went through the entire stack of paper plates.  For months, every meal she ate at home, she ate on a flimsy paper plate.  Just think of your experience with cheap paper plates: the sauce soaks through, a knife cuts through the bottom, leaving little bits of paper in your food, and you surely can’t carry the thing around the house for fear it will collapse in half.

Annie hated this consequence.

By the end of the 3 months it took to use all of the paper, she was willing to (begrudgingly) scrape her plate and place it into the dishwasher.

The best thing about her dad’s delivery of this “opportunity to learn?”  He never said a single word about it.  Not one.

Ten years later, Annie admitted that it’s still an effort to rinse her plates and put them in the dishwasher in her little apartment, but she does it.  With the consequence gift she got from her loving, patient, creative dad, she learned a lesson to last a lifetime.If you agree parenting teens can be frustrating then don’t miss this article! Parenting teens is challenging


Most Popular

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.
On Key

Related Posts

Mom holding toddler during a tantrum

What Vexes Parents

A friend and talk show host asked me this week what 5 issues vex most parents. That’s a pretty big question! I’m going to share

Mom with kids walking in the woods

Self-care, self-love, and the art of parenting.

Chances are you have found that parenting stretches you in ways you didn’t see coming. I’m betting that you want your children to feel absolutely loved, cherished, and adored by you, down to their core.

Let's Get Together

Please request a free Discovery Call with one of us.

Kerry Stutzman MSW, LMFT

My passion is helping my clients develop close, connected families and healthy relationships. For the past 20 years I have been helping people discover the best version of themselves.  Learn more

Brett King LPCC NCC, MFT

My specialty is couples therapy with parents. I also have expertise in parenting, betrayal recovery, and addiction.  Learn more

Amy Cobb - Parent Coach

Amy Cobb MS Family/Human Development

I specialize in working with parents and caregivers with children from cradle to college, with special focus from birth – 10 years old. Learn more

Session Request with Debbie

I look forward to meeting with you.

Discovery Call Request with Kerry

My practice is quite full, however I am accepting new clients if I feel there is a good fit and I can be helpful.  Please share what brings you to seek therapy at this time.

I look forward to discovering if we are a good fit.

Discovery Call Request with Brett

I look forward to discovering if we are a good fit.

Welcome Back

If you are an established client, please click on your therapist/parent coach to access their online booking portal.