Pick Your Toys Up!
At Your Wits End
Have you ever found yourself at your wits end constantly telling your child to pick their toys up and put them away? It happens to the best of us. Unfortunately, parents have to teach their children to be tidy it doesn't come by nature. If not addressed when they are young it leads to "Clean Your Room Up!" which is really a hardship. So if you are one of those parents who has to tell your child to pick their toys up not once, but twice and sometimes even a third time. This article is for you.
I will present several suggestions to help you teach your toddler to be tidy. I remember my Dad telling me, "You know kids make messes.". I think he forgets what he was like as a parent. It was Armageddon if we made a mess. My Father ran his children like we were all in boot camp. Sadly, I had nine years of it and will never go back. So I am the opposite and rather reluctant to fight over making the house tidy. Here are a few pointers on how to get your child to pick up after themselves without a power struggle.
Bringing Back the Sanity to Parenting
Ideally you will address cleaning up with your child at a young age. I like visual schedules for toddlers because they can identify what they are supposed to be doing during the day without having to read. And on my visual schedule I always put a pick up time. Now mind you a visual schedule is a very easy thing to make. You can take Google images and cut and print them out on a schedule so your child knows what to do. For instance an example might be...
· 12:00 pm Lunch (Place a picture of a child eating lunch.)
· 1:00pm Play Soccer (Place picture of a child playing soccer)
· 2:00 Nap (Place picture of a child taking a nap.)
· 3:00 Play Independently (Place a picture of a child playing with toys).
· 3:30 Clean up time (Place a picture of a child cleaning up their toys and putting them away. Clean up time should be schedule as a transition time from one activity to another.)
· 4:00 Reading Time (Place a picture of a child listening to a story.)
Post Schedule on the refrigerator in your home where the child can easily access it and see it. And if your child falls off the schedule which children often do reorient them to their routine. In the beginning your child will need help following their schedule and cleaning up but in no time at all they will know what they need to do. The trick is not to get to the story until the toys are picked up. It will happen if you stick to the schedule and assist your child in the beginning. Google has made visual schedules readily available and it is a tremendous help for parents of young children.
Always in still a sense of pride in cleanliness in your children so they will always feel good when things are in order.
What About My Teenager?
The teenager cleaning the room is a whole other animal. They have very busy schedules now days and the homework they give is tremendous. I remember in the 1980(s) we learned just as well without so many home work problems. So with puberty and adolescents as a factor boundaries are always good to set. As a parent it is your last chance to place limits on your child before they run off to college without structure.
Being a good natured assistant to a teenager will usually get them to comply. The greatest fear of any teenager is to liked by an adult especially one who gave birth to them. They prefer to think themselves as hatched. So I just go around the room and starting cleaning and cite how horrible they must feel to live in such filth and how much better and clearer minded they will be when the room is clean. Usually, teenagers rooms are messy because they are exceptionally busy, overwhelmed with college boards and trying to figure out what they are going to do with the rest of their lives. They just need a little help and encouragement. I find this to be true with my son. If I start going through his things he cleans just to maintain his privacy.
Whether your children are young or teenagers they constantly need the guidance of the well meaning parents. It is the approach, consistency and modeling the desired behavior which will yield the highest results. So if you want your child to have a clean room make certain you have a clean house. Set time aside to clean even if the house is not dirty. Make cleaning a routine behavior so you have time to enjoy living instead of waiting until your home is unmanageable and you are cleaning up everything yourself leaving no time to enjoy our family. After all we all should only have families to grow with and thoroughly enjoy.
I have included some pictures which you can make a visual schedule. This is just to give you an idea. All you would have to do is print out the pictures. Cut them out and paste them onto a piece of paper and post it on the regrigerator. You would have to post the times and go over the schedule with your child in the morning and before each activity but eventually the child will learn the schedule without the need of the visual reminder. There are more advanced ways to do visual schedules but it is not necessary when raising typically developing children.