When can you start teaching your toddler to clean up. Not the point below carefully.
“If a child is old enough to get out a toy to play, she is old enough to put it away.”
So if your child is capable of choosing which toy to play with from the toy box; he/she is also capable of putting it back when done playing with.
Let me put forth some strategies that can get this done.
Choosing language or choice of words carefully
The child isn’t born with inherent cleaning skill. It is something that is learnt on observation or upon being told. So just a blunt “clean up your toys” is not going to take you anywhere in this situation. Break the clean up into smaller tasks. Teach them to group things according to size or type. Breaking up cleaning into smaller tasks makes it manageable and also easier for them to start with. I am sure a good way of communication is the key to get the toddler moving.
IF your toddler is just two but loves watching what the parents do. You can very well start teaching them. Give them a dust cloth or small broom with dust pan to start with. They can imitate what you do.
Necessity of cleaning up
As a grown up, we know what clean up means, but to a toddler it means putting away the fun. Give them a reason or explain consequences with which they can relate; it makes it easier in this way. Tell them someone might trip, fall off and get hurt or the toddler cannot find the toy in the same place if it’s not put back.
Create Kid-Friendly Storage for Toys
Make sure toy storage is kid friendly. They should be able to pick up and clean up with ease. Place them in boxes- say one for blocks, one for stuffed toys and so on.
Less toys, rotate and one set at a time
It is better to segregate them into sets; which is another way. Less toys means very little time required for cleanup. Always rotate the sets so that they don’t get bored. Stop buying the same kind of toys. Also make sure only one set is out at a time.
Do it with a Tune!
There are a lot of youtube kid channels which have a cleanup song. Show them how it’s done. This might help them understand easier. So whenever it’s time for cleanup you can join in, sing and do it together. Do you want to know what’s our favourite cleanup song. Check it out.
Make it a Game
This makes a wonderful game. You can set the timer and tell them do complete before the buzzer goes on. Or you can tell them to complete before we finish folding clothes. Doing it this way increases the fun factor.
Don’t make it perfect
When the play area is finally clean, leave it as it is. If the blocks aren’t stacked properly or the dust cloth is not put back straight, leave it. As long as the place is clean, don’t redo what was done. A toddler cannot clean up like an adult. But if you still do it again to get it perfect, something like you redo what was done, the toddler might not be inclined to do it the next time; because they know we would redo it anyways.
Putting toys to sleep
IF the toddler cleans up before sleep time, tell them the toys need to sleep in their respective places, so we need to make sure they are kept in respective places. Maybe the child can also cultivate the habit of saying goodnight to the toys once its cleaned up.
Set a good example
Before making the toddler do the cleanup, we ourselves should set a good example for them. IF not now, we should not put ourselves into a situation that we still make a mess and expect the child to do a cleanup.
What are the benefits of teaching them cleanup?
Learn Skills they use life long
The home is the perfect place to teach them skills which they could use for the rest of their lives. Once they learn now they needn’t have to be calling you for learning it again and again.
Learning to be responsible
Responsibility is a serious skill to teach. Each day we see kids who have been brought up without being taught what is being responsible like. I really don’t like the sight of it nor does it look good to witness. It’s a very important quality we teach kids that what is expected of them and there are other people who count on them.
Learning value of work
Work is not something we hate nor do we love to work. But over the pace of time we do learn its importance by taking part in the activity. We not only teach them the value but also be a good participant(worker). We are rewarded by our kids standing out from the peer population if we teach them the skill of work and its value.
Learning to appreciate
Do you know that cleaning up also teaches the child to appreciate the effort that goes into it? They also learn to care for what they own by cleaning and putting it away when not needed anymore.
Learning to value home
By teaching them how to clean we also educate them to value where they live. It helps them to exhibit respect for the people they live with. They learn to recognize that the space is being shared by others, and therefore we show respect to them and ourselves by cleaning.
Learning natural consequences
If we end up cleaning after them, especially when they are of age three or more they’re don’t learn natural consequences. It gives them the thought that “ I can make a mess and I have somebody to clean it up for me’.