These days are messy. And to add to our messiness, daughter dearest scatters her stuff all around leaving the entire house in chaos. Yeah, I hear you parents of younger kids; this is an everyday story at your house too. But do you know that the Harvard Grant Study, which is the longest-running study in history (75+ years), suggests that high-achievers learn to do chores in their childhood? So children need to clean up their mess not because you want them to, but because life needs them to be prepared too.
When I Taught My Daughter to Tidy Her Room.
A couple of days before, my girl wasn’t willing to keep her toys back in place. The entire house was in a mess. I couldn’t dare to fix it all alone. Dear husband was busy in a call and by the time he would have helped, I could have drowned in the clutter.
So I went back to my little one and suggested a new game for her. She had to keep the toys back before I finish a countdown. As soon as I started with the numbers ’20..19..18..’, she was laughing hysterically because “Mumma doesn’t know how to count”. So instead of the ‘The Countdown’, we played ‘The Counter’. And before I finished counting till 30, I had an orderly house.
But this happiness was short-lived. Soon after, the toys were strewn about the room again.
And kids, you know, need a different stimulus each time.
When numbers stopped doing the trick, I promised to show her magic if she cleaned her room. She came back within a minute and told me that the toys were in place. As promised I showed here a little science experiment and she happily went on to create another round of chaos.
When I checked, the room was spotless; however, the toys weren’t in order. She found a huge cardboard box and stuffed all the things in it. It was time to teach her how to keep her room clean.
Parenting Is Hard, but I Find Ways to Ease My Woes
Dr. Debi Lynes, practicing counselor from South Carolina, says that kids as young as 16 months can begin cleaning up their rooms. Hence, it is never too early or too late to teach kids cleaning their rooms independently.
Here are a few tips and tricks for teaching kids tidying up their rooms:
Work as a Team
When I first asked my daughter to keep the toys back, her first reaction was “I can’t do this. This is too much”. So I offered her help in tidying the place. But I also ensured that she does the majority of work and I remained disingenuous by pretending to help.
This is a proven first step that you can try with your kid too. With this state of mind that someone is helping me with my work; it becomes easier for the child to actually do the work.
Work as Their Guide
Pretending to help will not work always. It may backfire if your kid continues to believe you are helping him/her. So after the first step is done, appreciate them for cleaning the room and also tell them the truth that they have done the majority of the work alone. Next time, stay with your child during cleaning time but don’t offer to clean up. Rather guide them to think logically, and decide the right places to keep each object. Continue this exercise until the child is comfortable in keeping their belongings in order, on their own.
Involve Them in Household Tasks
Children follow by example. Let them help you while you were cleaning around the house. Let them observe and imitate tasks like dusting the surfaces, keeping things in order, vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping the floor. If the children are grown enough you can ask them to do all the chores for their room. For younger kids, you ask them to perform age-appropriate chore and observe the others.
Reward Them Appropriately
Encourage your child whenever they keep stuff back in place. Whatever little they do to tidy up their room, appreciate them, and reward them appropriately. I would advise against rewarding them through dainties. Rather keep it simple. Giving them stars, a thumbs up, high-five or clap, can also do the trick. Sit down with your child and tell them how it feels better in a tidy room.
Hold a thing or activity that is dear to your child and tell them that it cannot be done until their room is clean. This could be screen time, playtime, color time, etc. This will not only teach them to keep their rooms clean, but it will also help in inculcating delayed gratification in younger ones.
Do Your Part Sincerely too
Broken toys, old notebooks, other junk, and outdated things- throw them all out. The best way to help your child keep their room organized is by getting rid of clutter. Check their room or closet at least once a year and get away with clothes and shoes your child has outgrown. The lesser the things, the lesser the mess in the room.
Imagine what relief it would be to see a tidy house after your kid’s playtime. Even the thought makes us feel better. Inculcating the habit of cleaning their room will not only give you peace of mind but will also help the child in the long run. Your child will soon take ownership of his space, learn organizational skills early on, and ready them up for future success.
So what are you waiting for? Teach your kid an important life lesson, and fetch yourself some peace of mind.