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Published: Monday August 25, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday August 25, 2014 MYT 6:02:45 PM

Create teachable moments with kids and their rooms

Instead of stressing over the messy state of your children's room, think of it as great way to teach them new lessons. Also, working together builds bonds. - Filepic

Instead of stressing over the messy state of your children's room, think of it as great way to teach them new lessons. Also, working together builds bonds. - Filepic

If you’re concerned that your child’s messy room will cause him to grow disorganised and ineffective, rest easy.

A tidy room isn’t necessarily as crucial to a child’s development as parents might expect, though it certainly does offer short- and long-term benefits.

Messy rooms can create opportunities for you to teach your children important lessons. – Filepic

“Is a messy room going to leave a kid less capable as an adult than they would have been otherwise? I’d say no,” says educational psychologist Jane M Healy, author of Your Child’s Growing Mind. “There are more important things in child-rearing than making sure every shelf is labelled.”

But Healy says that cleaning and organising a bedroom or playroom presents myriad teachable moments for all ages. “There are wonderful opportunities to work on colour matching, classifying, and sorting,” she says. “For older kids, it can be planning ahead, having a goal, outlining the steps to get to that goal.”

Ellen Delap, a certified professional organiser and spokesperson for the National Association of Professional Organisers, says that an organised room can help prevent kids from becoming frustrated, anxious and overwhelmed.

“An uncluttered space can help them be the best people they can be,” she says. “Kids get overwhelmed with the number of toys, clothes, and technology in their spaces - it’s frustrating to find what they need.”

Stick with this expectation and make sure that parents are modelling the procedure each day. – Reuters
Make tidying up fun and an achievable goal. – Filepic

Here are tips can help parents and children get their bedrooms, playrooms, and other spaces tidy and organised with minimal strife.

Have reasonable expectations. Gauge your expectations on the developmental age of your child, and the child’s own ability, says Healy. They might be able to put their clothes in a drawer, but may not yet have mastered the ability to fold everything neatly.

Create a base line. Twice a year, work with your children to do a major organising and de-cluttering of the room, to remove items that are outgrown or less used, says Delap. This makes it easier to maintain.

Assign zones. Think about the various activities that take place in your child’s space: homework, playing with toys, using media. Group the items needed for each activity together so that the child has easy access to take them out and put them away.

Create a family standard operating procedure. Delap believes that every family has its own “standard operating procedure” – a certain expectation of cleanliness. For some families it might mean no clothes on the floor, for others, it might mean a bed that’s made daily. Stick with this expectation and make sure that parents are modelling the procedure each day.

Make it fun and achievable. If you play music while you’re in clean-up mode, or set a timer for five minutes a day, or offer an incentive such as a small allowance, cleaning will not seem as onerous.

Invest in organising tools. Look into bins, boxes, and other storage tools that can contain toys, clothes, and other items in a way that’s easy to access. And don’t forget under-utilised places – under-bed bins, hanging baskets, and organisers for back of the door, can drastically increase storage space.

So while parents shouldn’t worry that they’re dooming their children to life as a slob if they don’t clean their rooms, it can’t be overlooked that helping them develop some habits of tidying and organising can’t hurt.

“What this offers is an opportunity for you to help your child shape their adult attitudes as well as their adult habits,” says Healy. – Reuters

Tidying up playlist

Here are some great songs you can play while you and your child clean-up their room. Such songs can be purchased easily, they can be new songs that your child can learn or classics that you know the words to. 

Tags / Keywords: clean up, kids, children, messy rooms, learning opportunity, teachable moments, parents, organised

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