Raising Tidy Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s Inner Neatnik (yes, it’s in there someplace)
Does your child prefer clutter to cleanliness? Does clean-up time become tantrum time? With a positive approach, even parents of the messiest children can teach them to appreciate a neat environment and establish good clean up habits. Positive reinforcement always works better than nagging and threatening, so here are some tips to help encourage your kids to clean up and keep their rooms and playrooms tidy.
- Set limits. Create a rule around how many toys can come out of the toy box at a time. Once she reaches the limit, remind her of the rule and let her know it’s time to put some of the toys away. You can help, but make sure she does the bulk of the clean up on her own.
- Be positive. Don’t use insults such as, “you’re a slob” or “your room is a pigsty.” For kids, these words can be hurtful and turn into self-fulfilling prophecies.
- Give toys a time out. Create a “toy time out” box, a place to put toys when your child doesn’t pick them up when asked. Once the toys go in the box, they are off limits for a set amount of days.
- Make a cleaning game. Set a timer and challenge your child to have her toys cleaned up by the time it goes off. Offer incentives such as extra playtime, a special DVD or double stories at bedtime.
- Keep it organized. Make it easier for your child to clean up by providing large storage bins and low shelves for toys and games.
- Keep it in the family. Involve him in family cleaning activities. Let him push the vacuum, set the table and clear the dishes after meals.
- Give notice. Some kids need a window of time to get ready for cleanup. Start with a 10-minute countdown to cleanup time and give reminders at five and two minutes.
- Be specific. Tell him exactly what needs to be done: pick up the clothes on the floor, put toys in the toy bin, place books on the shelves.
- Reward with praise. Let your child know when she’s done a good job cleaning — especially if she does so without you having to tell her!
Reviewed by: Patrick S. Pasquariello Jr., MD
Date: Aug. 2012