Kids have a reputation for being messy. And it simply can’t be helped. They have little experience in the real world, and they have people who clean up after them: their parents or their caretakers. But teaching them the virtue of cleanliness at an early age is a good way to impart its lasting values.
The question, however, is how you can teach them its importance. To help you with that, here are some steps you can take:
Let Toddlers Help You in the Way They Can
Remember that kids are not as strong or dexterous as adults, so choose chores that are appropriate for their age. While a toddler can’t exactly take out the trash, they can pick up after themselves whenever they drop something or help you put away their toys by bringing them to you. Actually, make it a rule to include clean-ups after their activities, be it art time, reading time, or playtime. Allow them to clean up after themselves. This will help develop their sense of autonomy and independence, all while boosting their self-confidence because they can do things “on their own”.
Do Not Use Cleaning As Punishment
When teaching the value of anything, it’s less ideal to introduce it as something negative. If the task of cleaning is given to kids as punishment for something they’ve done wrong, they will only associate cleaning with negative emotions which in turn might make them avoidant towards the chore. Instead, make it the opposite: reward cleanliness. If they’ve successfully kept their room clean for a week, reward them with something they’ll appreciate. They will far more likely grow up with good feelings towards cleanliness, and they won’t be as averse to cleaning on their own.
You can even turn cleaning into a game. Challenge your kids to who can put their toys back on the shelf the fastest, or who can arrange their clothes in the neatest way. Small suggestions like this can really encourage them, and it helps that the element of fun is added too.
Communication Is Important
In line with not turning chores into punishment, it’s also important that we make children understand the reason behind the values we are trying to teach them. Practicing good hygiene, for example, is imperative to keeping germs and viruses away. Especially with our experiences from last year during the lockdown, it was very important to maintain good personal hygiene not only so we can keep ourselves healthy, but also so we can keep our loved ones safe from the virus.
Remember though, that there is a difference between sitting down and explaining something to your children versus nagging. Communication is a two-way process, so if we want the kids to listen, we should also listen back.
Let Them Choose
Agency and decision-making are best taught to children even at a young age because it allows them to gradually develop confidence and critical thinking. So no matter what you are trying to teach your children, it’s almost always a good opportunity to practice decision making as well. When it’s bedtime and you want them to do their nightly hygiene habit, make them choose which pajamas they want to wear after taking a bath, and maybe make them choose which toothpaste they want when they brush their teeth. This helps them make hygiene and self-cleanliness a personal matter and teaches them to remember that it’s their responsibility.
Make them Feel the Value of a Clean Home
Kids are kinesthetic learners by nature. So instead of explaining, let them feel the difference. Hire a spring cleaning service and allow your children to point out the differences between living in a clean home versus an untidy one. Make a mention of how things are in place, how they know where their toys are, and how it’s easier to move around.
With the product professional quality of work before them, they’ll better understand the value of cleanliness. Remember that imparting the importance of cleanliness to your children isn’t so that they can go on deep cleaning your home- you still need pros for that. It’s to allow them to learn both its importance and how to keep a house clean versus letting it get dirty and having to put up with it.
Again, you can’t expect your kids to be of much help when deep cleaning your home. That’s a job best left to the professionals in the first place. It’s all a matter of conveying the value of keeping their space (and themselves) clean.