One of the recurrent desperations of parents is making their son or daughter be tidy. Finding their toys spread around the floor, the sheets boasting with drawings on the dinner table, or their unmade bed each morning is somewhat fastidious. But the last thing we can do is demoralizing ourselves or getting angry.
Many specialists say that when teaching how to be orderly we must first look at ourselves. It may seem evident, but we shouldn’t demand more from our son than from ourselves: if one of the parents is naturally untidy, there is little that can be done. Don not forget that children learn what they see everyday.
It is always recommendable not to impose the order but to explain it: make the child understand that it is an important thing to find things easily, not to trip or simply to feel better lying in the sofa or on the carpet.
We can promote the order through rewards: reading a tale to our kid if he picks up their toys, preparing them a special dessert… but don’t turn this technique into the pillar of your “strategy”, for our child could start demanding a prize each time they tidied up their room, and our idea is to create a habit, not promoting a behaviour.
The important thing is to encourage the child to be tidy, and to do it on his own as a habit. So encouraging him really contributes to this. If we tell him off or we get angry because he doesn’t do it correctly, he will consider that he’s failing, and would automatically stop all his efforts. It may be convenient that we also help him out.
We insist on this matter: we should “help” him, but never do the work for him. Even though we go desperate, it must be our child the one who values order. If we are cleaning up after him, he will assume that there will always be someone to do that job for him. Some psychologists, in order to keep this in check, recommend assigning our child a specific task in the household chores like sweeping the dust off the shelves; that way he will realize that he is helping out at home and that his work is considered, and that only he can take care of these chores.
We don’t deny that instilling the sense of order is a hard task, but it can be a rewarding experience for everyone: while our child learns the virtue of order we will do so with our patience.