It is interesting to notice that the untidiness parents see in their child’s room does not always mean that the child is untidy outside the home, too. Teachers stress that some parents are surprised to learn that their child is tidy and organized in the classroom, is eager to clean the board and leaves their desk neat when leaving. So, why is it difficult to get them to act likewise at home and why does every request to make a bed become a battle?
Good example is the best teacher
Why does the child’s behaviour and values related to tidiness change at home? How do you find a compromise when the punishments used by previous generations do not work, for example, “If you don’t clean your room, you can’t go out to play”?
According to psychologist Eligijus Jokubaitis, cleanliness expert at Grite, like adults, children follow the structure dictated by the environment. A child’s behaviour at school, in extracurricular activities or at home mainly depends on the example shown by others, usually adults.
If the limits of responsibilities and duties are clear and acceptable at school, the same limits should be acceptable at home, too. According to Mr Jokubaitis, the rules must be the same for everyone: if parents do not show initiative and example of daily routine, the child of generation Z will find it difficult to understand why he has to follow a different regime to his parents.
“Children imitate adult behaviour and it is one of the main ways to learn up to a certain age. Thus, if a child sees what is involved in having a clean home every day, it is likely that most of the work of trying to form such a habit will be done,” – he says.
When asked from what age children can be taught to tidy up after themselves, he answered that it is quite difficult to determine a precise age: “The development rates of children and quality of acquired skills may differ. However, it is generally considered that if a child has started walking, he is capable of putting his toys away. If children are to get into the habit of being tidy, it should be taught as early as possible.”
The same rules for everyone
It is believed that the children of generation Z are particularly independent – they want to be trusted. To be more precise, like adults, they want to be entrusted with tasks, for which they are responsible.
“It is important for the child to appreciate and enjoy order, – stresses Mr Jokubaitis. – So, you could give your child a shelf or a drawer in an important place of the house, which he would be responsible for. Having to be responsible for this one place may induce responsibility and a positive attitude towards cleaning.”
Of course, the adult behaviour is equally important in this context. Everyone in the family has to follow the routine. Everything must have its own place and each member of the family must know where that place is. So, children should have boxes for their things. And everyone should know where such things will be kept.
It is also important for children not to have too many possessions, because tidying them up would take too long. “We suggest that you use the exchange rule. This means that if the child gets a new toy, he should give away one of his old toys. This allows the number of toys to be controlled and teaches the child to share,”– recommends Mr Jokubaitis.
According to the psychologist, it is also important to explain specifically what you mean by order and tidiness to the child. “Make a checklist of what needs to be done and work alongside your child as they tidy.”
This practice is especially effective when there is a lot to clean and tidy and they are not good at planning. “Children often start to cry because they are suddenly given something to do and there is too much to do, they don’t know where to start. It is important to motivate them in advance and offer something they would really like as a reward”, – he says.
He also believes that the cleaning process should be broken down into smaller tasks, so that the child doesn’t feel hopeless, as this feeling is a frequent source of tears. By the way, this advice is universal – children learn to plan tasks item by item, they will be able to apply these skills in other areas, as well – at school, in university, and later at work.