Recently, after failing miserably with a combined rewards system of star chart, praise, stickers, cuddles, smiley-face hand-stamps, chocolates, sweeties and new toy promises we have resorted to a punishment system that simply involves the removal of a favourite toy, with the promise of its swift return should our son actually deign to do something which he knows perfectly well how to do, can do all on his own and has done countless times, but which he has now given up on.
So far, we have removed ALL his trains (a major event), his new playmobil airplane, his Charlie & Lola books and his toy buses. Next will be the box with all his cars.
The upshot of this is that, after an initial moment of sheer disbelief as his train-set went on top of the wardrobe, he has become quite philosophical about losing these toys and has instead turned his attentions to previously less popular things.
In fact, despite the question of him not doing something he should be, I'm actually quite enjoying taking away his favourite toys and to be honest, so is he. Yesterday he rounded up his buses, handed them to me and then waved at them as they peered down from their new heights.
There are toys being played with now to which he's never much paid attention, toys that have been loved and then deserted; toys which are now getting a proper look in. He spent this evening building a garage for his cars out of building blocks and then building trains out of Playdough, it's like he's learning how much value is really there in his over-populated playroom.
I've decided to keep going until either he gives in or he has no toys left. I actually think it's going to be good for his imagination.
I'll keep you posted.