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The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Child

The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Child


The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Child Copyright 2005 Kerry Flinders

I have a reader who asked me a very serious question the other day. She has a grown daughter who at 24 years old lives in a messy, disorganized, smelly home. She has 2 young sons who are following in her footsteps. My reader wanted to know what I thought she could do about getting through to her daughter about the importance of keeping an organized home.

She also told me, as an intro to the above question, that when her daughter was a child and teenager living at home that my reader would go into her room while her daughter was at school and she would spend several hours in there cleaning it all out for her.

Well, there’s the problem. One of the best things you can do for your child is to teach and train them to be organized and tidy themselves. It is not a basic instinct to clean up after oneself. It is a learned behavior.

You may think that you’re being mean by making your child clean up after themselves all the time. Perhaps you resented your own parents forcing you to clean out your closet or under your bed when you were perfectly happy with it the way it was. No matter what the reason is that you don’t make your child clean up after themselves I’m here to tell you that it is just a bad idea all the way around.

From the time your child is 2 years old you need to be making them clean up after themselves. Yes…2 years old. I used to sit on the floor in my boy's messy rooms, or on the couch in the front room and I would point at just one item at a time and tell my kids to put it in the toy box, or on the lower shelf. One at a time each and every little toy got put away properly…and by my children.

I even did this with my 2-year-old niece when she and her mother came to live with us for 6 months. My sister-in-law was shocked by the fact I could get her daughter to clean up after herself so quickly and completely.

As your child grows you need to continue to have them clean up after themselves. Always. You might feel as if it is so much easier for everyone involved if you just pick up after them yourself. But in the long run, …is it really what’s best for your child?

Teach your child that they must not only clean up after themselves every day but that they can’t get a new project out to play with until they have put the old project and the related items or toys belonging to it away properly.

Also, you need to be sure that from about 7 or 8 years old on, once a month you come into their room with them, sit on the bed or floor and supervise a good deep down cleaning. By sitting there and having them clean out every little corner of their room, including their drawers, closet and under the bed, you are training them to know HOW to always do this when needed.

By having them do this once a month you are training them that this is normal behavior. Sure, when your child first moves out they may not do this. But after a year or two on their own, and when their home is dirty, dusty and a wreck, they know exactly how to tackle each room, systematically, and are able to clean up and organize in no time.

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