Put That Away!
One of most parents’ pet peeves is seeing stuff lying all over the house. Stepping over shoes in the doorway, or seeing dirty dishes on the counter, or the remains of an arts and crafts project strewn all over the table…it’s enough to drive a parent to distraction. How can we encourage our children – of all ages – to pick up after themselves?
Children never really learn a respect for order if they are consistently shielded from the downsides of disorder.
If they don’t know what it’s like to not be able to find that homework project when they need it, or their laundry always seems to somehow find its way into the washing machine, then they never really appreciate why it’s important to participate in keeping the house running. Experience is the best teacher here. This is why nagging and yelling just don’t work. “Mother deafness” is a typical reaction to being told to pick up after oneself.
Teaching children a respect for the needs of the situation is the main goal.
And the more that we get stuck on tidiness, the more our kids push back. So, the first step is to remind ourselves that this is part of the learning process. The situation calls for “kind and firm.” We will only invite further resistance with anything but a neutral attitude or tone of voice.
Decide what you will do.
If you find things out of place, you may decide that you will put them away. The downside for your kids is that where you put things away may not be where they think to look for them. Don’t knock yourself out trying to cajole the children into picking up after themselves. Instead, you might try letting them deal with the consequences of dirty clothes on the floor (clothes then aren’t washed). Or of leaving dirty dishes in the family room (no more snacks outside of the kitchen). Logical consequences, used in a firm but friendly tone, go much further in instilling a respect for order than nagging or punishing.
Trying to force order doesn’t really teach our children an internal sense of its importance. Instead, by having unfavourable experiences with disorder, they will ideally come to their own conclusion that order is necessary and desirable. And perhaps then they’ll put their dishes in the dishwasher.
What most of us really want is to Raise Responsible Children.
Nagging. Kids hate it.