As far back as I can remember, perhaps even before our child was born, our home began to be slowly transformed. A crib, a cot, a changing table, and lots and lots of baby supplies, toys and books in anticipation of the little one. At every stage of their growth and development, it seemed like an endless amount of things just kept accumulating.
Getting kids to pack or clean up after themselves is never an easy task, in fact, for many parents, it could prove a tumultuous challenge at times. Kids prefer to play, to mess up, to have fun, but the aftermath is often left to worn-out parents to pick up the pieces after the dust has settled. Here are some tips on how to get our kids to clean up after themselves.
How To Get Kids To Clean Their Room
1. Make it a habit from day one
Start when your children are old enough to pick toys up or able to lift or put things into small boxes, containers or shelves. Keep it consistent and stick to a routine, play, clear, pack up or store away. One method we help to overcome hordes of clutter is to start and finish playing before beginning on something else.
2. Break it down into steps
Show or instruct them step-by-step on how to clear or clean things up. Put the pieces together, move them into the box, put the box away on the shelf, etc. Breaking the tasks down also helps them to feel a sense of achievement, and not stare aimlessly at the growing pile of mess in the room.
3. Lead by example
Model cleaning and clearing up for your kids. Adopt a cheerful attitude when going about your own chores, or else your kids will just be as grumpy and frustrated about doing theirs. Yet at the same time, always remember, don’t be a martyr, especially for older kids. If they are more than able to clean up their own rooms, don’t keep doing the job for them just because it’s not getting done, and your nagging is not working.
4. Make cleaning up fun
Find creative ways to make cleaning up fun. Add some music, or play it as a game (for example, who can keep the soft toys in the bag as quickly as possible?) It doesn’t always have to be a drag or chore.
5. Regularly declutter
One useful way is to store or move things into archives or storerooms for a while. Chances are, your child has more toys than he or she can remember or play all at once, or even once a week. Out of sight, out of mind, and it saves space, and giving more opportunity for more things to be unpacked, played and left lying around. Then occasionally, open an old box of toys or books, and viola, new fun and interesting things to do once again!
6. Balance discipline with rewards
Where possible, exercise discipline in different ways, not just negative punishments. It could be in the form of simple, appropriate rewards, or allowing or removing of privileges e.g. television, computer time. Also, learn to appreciate their efforts, not matter how small or big. Just using the “do it because I tell you to” cannot be the only or main motivating factor.
For those with more than one child, the challenges may multiply. But it can a challenge can be either positive or negative, and hopefully as your first child grows and mature, that can also be another positive reinforcement or source of help with your younger children.
By Som Yew Ya
This article was first published in The New Age Parents e-magazine