How to teach your child the habit of keeping tidy
By Aliki Nassoufis Sep 15, 2011, 3:15 GMT
Berlin - One glance in your child's bedroom is enough to confirm your worst nightmares: the bed is undone, the desk is a mess while piles of clothing, remains of food and CDs are scattered across the floor. Faced with a scene like that it's no surprise that all parents have told their children at least once to, 'Clean your room up now!'
'It's the same story in every family,' says Andreas Engel, deputy chairman of Germany's child guidance office. But asking your child to tidy up their bedroom is more than just a request for orderliness. 'Tidying a bedroom has a deeper meaning.' It touches on the subjects of 'fitting in' and 'obedience'. 'Children and teenagers in particular are prepared to question the concept of orderliness and everything linked to it.'
Another aspect that will effect your child's attitude is age. 'Puberty begins about the age of 10 or eleven. Their hormones change very quickly and your child's interests will change too,' says Maria El-Safti-Juette who runs a parents' hotline in Berlin. As a result your son or daughter will place more importance on certain things than they did in the past.
Parents should begin training their child to be tidy at a young age. 'The earlier you start the more it will pay out later,' says psychologist Anni Braun. If you show your young child how to clean up and praise them afterwards they will probably be tidier later in life.
El-Safti-Juette advises parents to set priorities. If you expect a spic-and-span bedroom you are likely to be disappointed. 'You should decide what's most important.' That could include making sure your child cleans up any food scraps every evening or that they sort out their school bag on their own.
It can also help to set a day in the week for cleaning up. 'You can make a deal to devote a few hours for tidying up once a week,' says Braun. It's also a good idea to share a treat with your child after the work is done like playing a game or eating sweets. 'It should be something you both enjoy. That will make cleaning up a positive experience.'
Many parents are prepared to do some cleaning up themselves with the aim of having everything as tidy as they imagine it should be. 'But that's not good,' says Engel. If you clean everything up your child will never tidy away their toys by themselves.
Issuing ultimatums such as, 'If you don't clean everything up I'll throw everything away that's on the ground' will not work. 'The parent is then forced into the situation that not only must they carry their threat out but they have also initiated a power struggle,' warns Andreas Engel.