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Books, toys, craft paper, scissors, lie scattered on the floor! Your little girl, the architect of this mess, thinks the more the merrier, the messier the better. But, what happens after she has had her fill? She gives you the chase, expecting you to clean up while she’s onto her next muse. Raising a tidy child is important. It saves you endless cleaning, while improving your tot’s attention and problem-solving knack. Besides, you as well as your tot can walk around the house happily without the fear of stepping on misplaced toys or books!
Here are some tips to get your tot to be tidy
Habit is the key
Foster good habits with patience and perseverance. Lay down rules like clothes must be put to wash immediately after play or the mat must be in its place after use. Give her a two-minute transition period from what she is doing to what needs to be done. Tell her, “Only two minutes more of playing before you must put the toys back in the shelf.” You can even introduce a clean-up time, complete with a timer, to create excitement and persuade her that it’s a doable task.
Children are naturally restless, easily distracted, difficult to pin down, and lazy about cleaning the mess. So, get creative when you want her to tidy the room. Allow her to pick up for five minutes, then take a break, and come back to the task. Or focus on one coloured item or toy category at a time. You can say, “I am thinking of something blue”, and she will collect all items that are blue until the one you thought of has been taken care of. Having boxes for separate items like one for tea sets, another for dolls, is also a good idea. Your girl will learn to play with one box at a time, making it easier to clean up afterwards.
Show and tell
Your tot may find ways to escape tidying up because she finds the heap of mess she’s created beyond her control to organise. With your guidance, she can slowly learn how to keep things back where they belong. To make it an enjoyable task, introduce an element of fun. Sing a song to signal clean-up time or stage it as a race with her four-year-old brother. To reinforce this behaviour, don’t miss out on rewarding her with high-fives, hugs, and occasionally her favourite ice-cream or chocolate after the clean-up.
On certain days, toddlers may have their moods, get cranky, and won’t be ready to clean up despite your persuasion. Handle this situation by staying calm and clearing stuff together for a few minutes, rather than fall back on the habit of doing everything by yourself.
Follow this simple routine and you’ll soon have ‘Miss Tidy’ at home!