Follow these handy hints to teach your kiddo to take responsibility for the messes that they make.


The words “kids” and “mess” often go together because “you can’t have one without the other”, as the song goes.

Messes are inevitable if you have children in the house. Nothing brightens up a parent’s day more than hearing your child’s sweet laughter and seeing them play happily with their toys or siblings.

While you get a kick from watching their kids having fun, it isn’t as appealing when you have to clean up after them! Children have the habit of playing with many toys at the same time, which results in a huge mess all over your floor. And you’re usually the one who is tasked with clean-up duty later as it’s faster and more practical.

To ensure that junior learns to be responsible for himself and feel a sense of ownership in the household, here are tips on getting your child to tidy up after themselves:

1. Start young
Children start to understand simple instructions at the age of 1. They will also observe and mimic your actions, so this is the perfect time to start cultivating good habits like getting them to pack up after playing.

Every kid is different, so find a method that will motivate your kid to clean up willingly!

2. Set rules
Explain your expectations and rules clearly to your children and make sure they understands them. If your kids have not been cleaning up after themselves, you can’t expect them to change overnight. They need time to grasp the new concept of having to clean up after playtime.

3. Be consistent
Make tidying up part of their play routine, so that it becomes a habit for them to pack up after playing. The older your kids get, the harder it is for them to establish the habit of cleaning up after themselves, especially if they have not been doing so from the start.

4. Set an example
Model a good example for your child to follow. Do your household chores in a cheerful manner instead of complaining and grumbling about all the work you have to do. If your kids hear you grumbling and see that you’re unwilling to clean up, they will start to think that cleaning up is a burden and steer clear of it.

5. Offer incentives
Rewards are always an effective way to motivate your kids. It could be snacks, extra playtime, outings or simply praising them. Every child is different, so find a method that will motivate him to clean up willingly!

Click through for five more tips on how to get your little one to clean up after themselves…



6. Ensure that every item has its place
Your munchkin can only clear up if he knows exactly where his toys should go. To help him get organised, purchase toy bins, baskets, crates, shelves or under-bed drawers. Labelling them will let your child know where everything goes and if your offspring is too young to read, taping pictures is a good idea. This will make cleaning up much easier for both you both.

7. Make cleaning up a competition or a game
Most children are unwilling to clean up because they see it as a waste of their playtime. So, why not include straightening the space part of their playtime as well? Challenge your child to a game of “Who can clear the most toys in a minute” and watch them zip around the room. If you have more than one kid, pit one of them against the other! Your kids enjoy simple competitions, and you will love the clean room subsequently. For a younger kid, turn cleaning up it into a fun game. Ask your child to organise the toys according to colour or count as you pack up.

For a younger kid, turn cleaning up it into a fun game. Ask your child to organise the toys according to colour or count as you pack up.

8. Take breaks
Young children have very short attention spans, especially in a room full of interesting and colourful toys. Allow them to take short breaks after picking up a few toys, or just focus on packing up one specific thing, such as their soft toys or Lego bricks.

9. Remove privileges
If all else fails, you can start taking away their privileges such as confiscating their toys. Make sure you are firm and consistent. Don’t compromise and go back on your word as your child will not take your threats seriously in time to come. However, make sure that the punishment is sensible, do not go overboard as this might have a reverse effect and deter your child from cleaning up again.

10. Empathise and acknowledge their effort
If your kiddo gets upset, let him know that you understand how he feels. Kids will be less upset if they know that you hear and understand them. However, at the end of the day, cleaning up is still something he has to do. Then praise them heavily when they meet their goals.

Getting children to clean up after themselves might be hard, but with time and patience, your little one will eventually get the hang of it!

Photos: iStock

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