Follow Through With the Flush

My 6 year old son has a problem with flushing the toilet! He doesn’t do it! EVER!  It’s annoying, and what he doesn’t realize is that it now affects me and my 20 month old.

This is the typical morning routine:

6 year old gets up.

6 year old goes to the bathroom, doesn’t think to flush.

Family gets started with the morning routine, breakfast, teeth brushing and off to school.

20 month old roams the house while I finish cleaning the dishes and kitchen, and tidying up the house.

BAM! 20 month old sticks his hand IN THE TOILET that wasn’t previously flushed!


YEP! Hate to say it, but it’s happened more than once.

The situation got me 6 year old not flushing the toilet fits into the character strength category for “Orderliness”.  And then I thought further… why do I need to confirm that this little munchkin is completing his hygiene tasks?

I’ve come to learn over the years that Orderliness has 3 key attributes that help us understand this particular character strength: Order of priorities, order of time, and order of goods. I think my son’s lack of flushing falls under order of priorities.  

When we work on improving character strengths, one of the root reasons for doing so is because we need to take a closer look at how our vices affect other people.  I am working with my dear 6 year old to help him understand his lack of follow through and how it can have major consequences with my time, which then can domino into my lack of orderliness of time because I fall behind in trying to clean up the toddler, and ultimately end up running late. Not to mention, it’s disgusting! It’s a hard concept for a 6 year old to grasp, but I show him through orderliness of goods.

I remind him when he forgets to put his shoes away and leaves them in the middle of the floor, anyone walking through the house can trip on them and get hurt.  “You don’t want me or your brother to get hurt, do you?” I ask. Because he has empathy towards others, this visual helps him understand the consequence of lack of follow through, and I tie it back to him forgetting to flush the toilet in hopes that he will remember the next time to do so!

I was talking to a mom of young kids this weekend, and we were talking about Orderliness objectives that our family has developed for the week ahead. When I told her about the 6 year old’s objective of following through with the flush, she laughed and said, “I would never have thought that flushing the toilet falls under orderliness.”  My response was, “Of course it does! It has the ability to affect any of the 5 other people living in our house, or even a guest who comes to visit! It drives me bonkers.”

What about you and your kids?  What areas in your life could use a tune up in regards to priorities, time or goods? Where can you or your kids improve to affect others?

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