How to teach kids to be tidy from a young age

Kids can be messy, and that’s certainly not a revolutionary remark. However, it is possible to try to reduce how untidy they are while they’re young. With the appropriate level of discipline and commitment, progress can certainly be made! 

While it’s always a good idea to invest in things like coat hangers and shoe racks to store away things on the fly, tidying is also about a certain attitude too. Overtime, it becomes second nature, instead of an arduous chore; that’s the trick here! 

Consequently, here’s how to teach your kids to be tidy from a young age. 

Tidying their own mess

Kids can be messy simply because they’re bored and can get quite fidgety when not occupied. To prevent this, it’s important to channel their messiness into other pursuits in their own rooms; for example, things like playing out of their toyboxes or doing arts and crafts at their desk. Once they’re done with their activity and have had all their fun, the road to teaching them to tidy is a lot smoother. 

This is because when they tidy up afterwards, they’re doing it for their own benefit of having clean surroundings, and not because their parent ‘said so’. It’s good to teach them consequences – that if they want to get all their toys and colouring books out, they need to pack them away afterwards so they can be easily found again and aren’t at risk of being stepped on, broken or lost. From this angle, you can teach them the actual logic of tidying up, rather than just making them do it around the house as a tedious chore straight away. 

Manners matter

Certain kinds of cleaning up come to us very easily and are closely interlinked with basic manners. For example, cleaning cutlery and plates after we’ve finished eating. Once your kids are done with their meals, head to the sink with them, get your sponges and fairy liquid, and start scrubbing with them. Don’t make them clean everyone’s plates, just their own for the sake of fairness and understanding in that, if you make a mess (even if it’s necessary with a dirty plate), you clean it up. 

If there’s any sharp cutlery like knives involved, it’s best that you take over for those. However, everything else should be okay with your supervision, and it’ll all teach them that they’re responsible for the things they’ve used, which could have broader applications with other items in other places; friends houses, school, and so forth. Friends, teachers and parents will be impressed they don’t shy away from being accountable, which reflects positively on you too. 

Be a good example

It’s surprising how much a child’s behaviour can mirror a parent’s own. They shouldn’t be doing all the tidying, and how much you clean up is equally important here as well. Additionally, a messy childhood can have an effect on your kids even as they immerge into adulthood and can interfere with their relationship with housework. Consequently, you need to lead by example for the best results here. 

A sense of teamwork in the house is key; if your kids regularly see you tidying too, it’ll be a normal part of the culture in the house that everyone chips in with. It’s not something that’s dumped on them because you can’t be bothered, but an activity that’s all about fairness and the sharing of responsibility. Remember, more than anything else, families are a team; tidy together and have fun doing it if need be! 

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