Has your child’s room ever looked like you just had a burglary? Are you tired of nagging and begging your child to tidy his room? Here are ten tips that might help you get your child to tidy her room without nagging, begging, or threatening.
1) Set the rules and make sure that your kids know what your expectations are. Kids need to know exactly what they need to tidy and how often. Do you want the room to be tidy at all times? Some parents only allow kids to take one toy out at a time. Others allow their kids to make a mess as long as they tidy at the end of the day. Some parents don’t mind a mess as long as their kids tidy at least once a week. Decide what works for you and make sure that your kids know that those are the house rules. Make a chore list, including each chore and how often your child is expected to do it. You can find free printable chore charts on this site. Write a list of tasks and mark them once completed. For example:
Make your bed each morning;
Put your toys away every day;
Vacuum once a week.
2) Make sure that your kids have enough storage space. You cannot expect them to keep their toys or rooms tidy if they do not have enough storage space. Look for creative storage solutions and find one suitable for the area that you have available and the belongings that you need to store. Unfortunately, this does not mean that if your child has enough closet space that he will tidy his things. At this stage, we are just trying to make sure that it is theoretically possible.
3) Set a good example. If you don’t keep your things tidy, then you can’t expect your child to do so. Set a good example and treat your belongings the way you want your child to. If you don’t make your bed every day, then neither will your child.
4) Give away or throw out belongings that you do not use. Having too many possessions is the best way to ensure that your child’s room stays messy. Once in a while, go through your child’s things and sort them out. Give away whatever is not needed but can be used by someone else. This will also teach kids about the importance of giving.
5) Start early and keep the house rules age-appropriate. Even toddlers can be taught to tidy up their toys and put things away. If you do not start setting habits early, then it will become more difficult later on. As your child gets older, she can take on more responsibility. Raise your expectations accordingly. Make your kids feel proud that they are getting more responsibility.
6) Be consistent. If you have told your child, he needs to tidy his room every day then go in every day and check that it is tidy. You cannot go in to check after a week since you can be sure that the room will not have been tidied throughout the week. Kids love testing your boundaries. If you say that his room needs to be tidied every day but don’t do anything about it, then they understand it to mean that the rule is very flexible. Be predictable and consistent.
7) Show your child how to tidy her room but don’t do it for her. Some times the mess becomes so overwhelming that kids don’t even know where to start. Show her how to do it without doing it yourself. You shouldn’t need to do this too often. Teach her where everything should be put and give her tips on how to tackle such a big mess. For example, first put the biggest items away so as to clear some room. Then put all of the clothes away then all of the books. When things get out of hand, some kids don’t even know where to start. Some parents try and get their kids to tidy their rooms and when they realize that their kids are not going to do it then they just do it themselves. After all, it takes less time to actually tidy their room than it does to nag them to tidy it. You are essentially sending a message to your children that if they don’t tidy their bedroom, then you will do it for them. Kids are quick to understand these things. That means that if they have better things to do than tidy their room (who doesn’t), then all they need to do is ignore the nagging until you do it yourself.
Now for the three fail-proof methods:
8) Hold your kids accountable. Postpone privileges until the room is tidy. Kids need to take responsibility for their bedrooms and their belongings. There have to be consequences when they do not take responsibility. Postpone privileges until chores are complete. For example, you cannot go to a friend until you have tidied your room. This is not a threat. It is not punishment. You simply need to finish your chores before you can take a break.
9) A trick that works every time. Tell your kids that judging by the mess they have too many belongings and need to get rid of some. Explain to them that they have an hour to tidy their room and ask them to leave the items that they do not want any more on the floor. Those items will be either given away or thrown away. Here is the difficult part. You have to show them that you mean it for it to work. After an hour you go back into the room with a big garbage bag and start putting things from the floor in the bag. The first time I did it I chose the cheapest things I could find and put them in the bag. They have to be things that your child cares about else it won’t work on the other hand you don’t want to throw away expensive toys to prove your point. You have to follow through and take these things away. When they realize that they cannot save the items in the bag they will then rush and tidy up the rest of their things. It might not happen right away since they might assume that you will give in and return their things. Once they realize that you are serious then the system is working. Today, I don’t even have to say anything. All I need to do is walk towards my child’s room with a garbage bag and he gets his room tidied within minutes.
10) New house rule – an allowance (pocket money) is not given until their room is tidy. Being part of a family and living under one roof has its advantages and disadvantages. You have to do certain chores but also get privileges such as an allowance (pocket money). In order to get your allowance, you need to respect the house rules and one of those are to keep your room tidy. If your kids do not tidy their room by the expected time then their allowance is postponed until it is tidy. If that doesn’t work then you can take off the relative amount for the delay. If it takes them a week to get the room tidy, then they will not get an allowance for that week. This is not a punishment but a condition required to receive an allowance.
Another two tips for younger kids:
About 20 minutes before the end of a playdate ask your kid and friend to start tidying together. They can even have a competition to see who can pick up the most toys within a set time frame. From experience, if you do not do this then when the friend goes home your child will start explaining that it is not him who made the mess but the friend. Also, the mess that two or more kids make might be too much for one kid to tidy.
Limit the number of toys that kids can take out at once. If you do this, then things will never get out of hand and kids will develop habits and organizational skills that will make it easier later on in life. When you have too many things all over life gets a little out of hand.