Cleanliness goes hand-in-hand with tidiness – a double-billed lesson all children need to learn.
Not only, for example, is it important that you teach your youngster the essentials of bathing properly, brushing his teeth and even combing his hair – that is all part and parcel of his personal cleanliness regime and therefore personal tidiness – but he needs to understand the value of following it through by cleaning the bath afterwards, placing the cap on the toothpaste before putting it back in its place, and drying any water spills on the bathroom floor.
Children, as we know, are always on their own mission. Always in a hurry to get to the -fun part of their day, so this type of lesson requires constant reminding. And of course the greatest lesson will come from him watching you do it not for him, but with him and after yourself. Children are so receptive, more so than we give them credit for, and they will watch and learn from your every move.
It’s worth mentioning here, however, that if you tend to lean towards a -germophobic personality, you cannot afford to let your child pick up on this trait as he could easily slip into a compulsive obsessive world where he imagines that all germs are bad and on the attack.
Keeping himself and his things tidy
But establishing this double-faceted trait in a healthy way can start really early on by giving your little one some responsibility in keeping himself and his surrounds tidy.
Perhaps his first -job could be to clear his toys out of the lounge before bed each night and not only throw them into his room, but to put all his toys and clothes away neatly. Teach him to be gentle with his toys, placing them in their allocated places and not just dumping them there. Praise him when he has accomplished this and show admiration for how lovely the room looks.
Do this with him every night, slowly handing over the responsibility until he is carrying it all himself. No matter how hard a day you’ve had or how heavily you’ve flopped onto that ever-so-comfortable sofa, he needs to learn from your example!
From here you can lead him into family cleaning up time so he will feel important enough by being included in the general cleaning, but keep in mind his abilities and never reprimand him if he tries and ends up making a bigger mess. Remember – he’s still learning.
Masterpiece centre pieces
Older children love to set the table for family meals. When he’s old enough let him have his turn. With a little encouragement he may want to pick a flower as a -centre piece , or if he has an artistic streak he may choose to construct a masterpiece with bright-coloured plastic dishes or something else exciting. Let him use his imagination!
You may not associate this with tidiness but it definitely will show that his mind is set on presenting things nicely and the only way you can do that is by presenting something great to look at – even if you think it is appalling on your table, let him grow this important part of his learning journey.
Children learn from us every day, even as babies, but the older they get the more they take in. As parents we are their primary source of information, guiding them and teaching them the fundamentals they will need to build on as they grow. What we do in front of and with our children at this tender age could have a detrimental effect on them as teenagers and even adults. But mostly, it could give them the base from which they can soar! You choose.