5 Ways to Teach Your Young Children How to Tidy Up

Perhaps one of the most trying things about being a parent to young children is the constant mess. Your life doesn’t have to be a constant barrage of stepping on LEGO bricks and slipping up on crisp packets though.

The first step is, perhaps counterproductively, to stop cleaning up after them all the time! Constantly cleaning up after children who can do it themselves can inadvertently teach them that their messes will always be handled by someone else. Encourage your kids to actively take part in the tidying up from a young age and you’ll reap the rewards when they blossom into clean and tidy teenagers.


  1. Design Their Space with Clever Storage

Design your kids’ room with clever storage solutions that are practical and easy to use. Clearly label bins with recycling and rubbish and install accessible shelves and drawers that are easy for them to operate. This setup not only teaches them where everything goes but also makes the act of tidying up more intuitive. Children are more likely to engage in cleaning up if they know exactly where things belong.


  1. Keep It Fun

If there’s one thing kids really enjoy, it’s playing games and if you can turn tidying up into a game for them, you’ve effectively hit the holy grail of parenting. Experiment with different ideas like assigning points for every item they put away or create a unique tidying up song you can sing together (whistling while you work). This will make it feel less like a chore and more like an activity they genuinely look forward to.


  1. Make It a Routine

Children are creatures of habit, so incorporating tidying up into your daily routine helps it become a part of their day rather than a nuisance they come to dread. The famous Montessori approach to tidying up suggests that clean-up should happen naturally as part of play because when children understand that tidying is just another part of playtime, they’re less likely to resist it.


  1. Communicate Why It’s Important

It’s important for children to understand that tidying up isn’t just something they need to do because you tell them to. There’s a reason for it. Explain the connection between cleanliness and hygiene and discuss how messy spaces could lead to them tripping up and hurting themselves or losing some of their favourite toys. Use words and consequences that mean something to them but try not to speak down to them either. Kids always know when you’re being condescending. It’s like a magic gift.


  1. Keep It Realistic

You don’t want to overwhelm them. Tailor all cleaning tasks to the age and ability of your kids. Toddlers, for example, may not be able to wash dishes but can certainly put their toys away. As they grow, you can also gradually increase the complexity of the tasks you give them to build their confidence and capability. It’ll all pay off in the long term!

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