Struggling with a child who refuses to see the importance of neatness? Here’s help at hand.
By Parama Gupta
Is your child in a perpetual muddle over her belongings? Does she find it difficult to find things she is looking for? Does your child’s room look like a hopeless mess? Has it become the norm to find layers of dust settled on his belongings?
The solution to all these problems lies in inculcating in your child the habit of tidying up. Your child should realise that keeping the house, study or work area, and one’s surroundings clean is very important to lead a healthy, happy and stress-free life.
However, as with all good habits, a child must be taught to clean and tidy up right from a young age or untidiness can become a habit.
Now, this may prove to be a little difficult, especially if your child is habitually untidy. But, with persistent efforts, you can help your child learn how to tidy up.
1. Identify all those habits that make your child seem like an untidy individual. For example, he may not care to pick up the leftovers after a meal or may leave behind the toys or craft items after he has finished playing or working with them, thinking it’s not his responsibility to clean up the area. During such times, remind your child that it’s his responsibility to clean the area by picking up his possessions and putting them back in their place.
2. Make your child learn the importance of keeping her own room or corner neat and clean. Look up pictures of well-kept rooms on the Internet. Show them to your child and talk to her about how lovely those rooms look and how good it would feel to live in such a tidy place. This will motivate her to keep her own space clean. You can also give your child some ideas on how to organise her room well.
3. Buy or make simple items such as boxes to keep files, pens, scissors and other stationery, and baskets for craft items, toys, and so on. Make the organisers look attractive with labels and colourful decorations. Then, encourage your child to keep all the things in their respective boxes and baskets. Build a game around the whole business of tidying up by awarding points every time your child remembers to keep things in their places and subtracting points every time she forgets. Assign an incentive for different milestones, such as a favourite dish for 50 points in a week, a visit to her favourite entertainment spot for 100 points, a surprise gift for 200, and so on.
4. Create a dusting routine and motivate your child to follow it without fail. Involve him in regularly dusting and wiping his own cupboard, drawers and study table. Make DIY home cleaners with natural substances such as lemon, orange or vinegar. By doing this, you will also be able to teach your child about the properties of these items and their use in cleaning the house. This knowledge will be very useful to your child throughout her life.
5. Make the task of tidying up look like a game. This will make your child feel interested and excited instead of regarding it as a boring and tedious job. For instance, you can set a timer and ask your little one to pick up all the toys strewn around the room before the stopwatch goes off. Or, engage in a contest with your child by telling her to tidy up her cupboard or study table while you put the bookshelf in order, encouraging her to finish before you do. If she wins, reward her with a treat.
6. Explain the importance of cleanliness to your child. Tell her about the various health issues that can result from inhalation of dust and how it affects one’s mood to see things lying about scattered instead of where they should be. Also, make your child understand that just as she doesn’t like going to poorly kept houses or untidy places, so do others.
7. By actively involving yourself in tidying up, set a good example for your child. When your child routinely observes your attitude towards keeping the house tidy, your habit will most likely rub off on to him too.
With these tips, you can help your child become a stickler for cleanliness, which will do him a world of good. Learning to tidy up will also help your child become a better-organised individual.
A word of caution: Some children are allergic to dust and cleaning sprays. If your child is one of them, take the necessary precautions before you involve him in cleaning activities.
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