How do we get our kids to take responsibility for their things and get them to put their toys and clothes away, as opposed to stuffing them under the bed so you won’t find them?
I’m always amazed that an empty wardrobe with dozens of hangers isn’t as inviting as shoving the clothes in a corner or throwing them in the dirty clothes basket (even though they have never been worn), rather than hanging them up.
So how do we get children to help tidy and declutter their bedroom and toys rather than shirking their responsibilities?
5 ways to get your kids to help tidy up!
1. Praise their efforts when they do tidy up
Praise, praise, praise! Kids can never get enough praise for a job well done. Studies have shown that giving someone acknowledgement for their work will keep them motivated to do well. This has been proven to be more effective for productivity than a cash incentive!
So always take a look at the bed they made, the clothes they put on the hangers, and the shoes they placed in the cupboard. It may take time to check out their handiwork, but it will mean less work for you when you don’t have to iron the crushed clothes under the bed.
2. Don’t fix it when it doesn’t meet your expectation
This brings me to my second point. Don’t redo their chore. If the towels are folded badly or the bed is lumpy, don’t redo it. If they think you disapprove of the job they did, it is unlikely they will do it willingly again.
3. Show them first
Show them how to do the job before they start. Chances are they don’t know how you like the towels folded, so give them a demo before they begin or assist the first few times until they get the hang of it, and then praise.
4. Learn to compromise
Remember the other family members may have a different version of tidy to you. Living together is about compromise, so don’t despair if their ‘clean and tidy’ is different to yours. Sometimes you just have to appreciate that they made an effort.
5. Offer incentives
Nagging doesn’t work, so you need to be a little inventive to get others to take action. Try making it a game: “You have five minutes to get all those clothes on the hangers. On your mark, get set, go!“. If they finish the task in the time frame given, you could offer a small reward.
For older children you might need a different bartering system: “After you have put your clothes away (on the hangers), then I can drive you to your friend’s house“. “Can you put out the garbage so I know you have completed all your chores, and then I can give you your pocket money” Even though this comes down to bribery, you still need to acknowledge a job well done. Did I mention the word “praise”?
Why it is important to encourage to children to tidy up
It often seems simpler to tidy up ourselves rather than ask our children to do it as:
- It saves time
- The job is done the way we like it
- There is no need to argue with anyone
The problem with this is, although short term it seems more efficient, long term you create lazy children who expect others to do everything for them, and their work ethic is extremely poor. That work ethic extends beyond the home and into the workforce.
So if you want to set your children up to be responsible useful members of society who can look after themselves – get them to start tidying up.
You are doing them a favour for life!