As much as we parents like to protect our babies, we are also responsible for preparing and teaching them about the various realities of life. The ability to cope with disappointments, accept the consequences of their actions, develop problem-solving skills, and become functioning, independent adults depends largely on our parenting choices.
Self-respect, responsibility, and accountability are not things that come naturally to toddlers and young kids. We must repeatedly teach them, show them, and help them to develop these traits and skills through our own actions as well as the expectations that we set for them.
Moms and dads alike often feel overwhelmed when they have young kids running about. In fact, there is a plethora of blogs, memes, and e-cards that have cleverly expressed what it feels like to clean up after little ones:
Picking up after toddlers is like raking leaves in a wind storm, brushing your teeth while eating Oreos, trying to boil water in a sieve, shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing.
Want to know what it’s like to have kids? 1. Throw everything you own in the floor. 2. Pick it all up. 3. Repeat.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Implementing a cleaning routine that involves your toddler is not only a great way to help keep your house tidy and organized, but it instills responsibility, respect, and dignity at an early age. Making cleaning a regular part of family time promotes teamwork and sets a good example of healthy activities that fulfill a purpose and maintain order in a household.
As soon as children can grasp the concept of placing items in a designated bin or container, they are old enough to contribute to household chores. Although this may be their only form of assistance, parents can provide the means of organization by investing in a toy box, cubbies, and various compartments that are meant for storing toys.
By enforcing regular cleanup after playtime, children will develop a systematized understanding of grouping, arrangement, and orderliness. If you begin this task early enough and make it part of your routine, kids are likely to never understand the concept of making messes and leaving them behind for others to pick up. It also instills a sense of respect for their belongings and respect for their surroundings by encouraging them to take care of their toys and put them away in a safe place after they are finished using them.
Toddlers as young as 18 months to 2 years old also are capable of contributing in other aspects of a cleaning routine. Dusting, wiping off the kitchen table with a cloth, or generally cleaning up spills are reasonable tasks that can actually be fun for kids of this age. Most children feel a sense of pride and accomplishment if they are able to help out or do the things that admirable adults do. Even if they are not efficient with their chores, give them a chance to contribute so they can learn how they might improve their skills, have a chance to make a difference, and start making cleanliness and organization a part of their daily lives.
Organization and cleanliness around the house also will extend into other areas of a child’s life. If they have developed a sense of order for their toys and their surroundings at home, their behavior elsewhere will certainly mirror that. Scientific studies have shown that neatness and organization at home can improve a child’s ability to organize and prioritize their responsibilities in an educational setting.
Give your child the tools he or she will need to succeed as a confident, presentable, put-together young adult by teaching them first how to keep their belongings neat and organized at home. Be an example of self-respect and dignity by implementing a cleaning routine at home that includes the whole family.