How to get kids to tidy up. No nagging needed.

Wish to have kids who tidy up before / after home practice (and playing), without nagging? This post is for you.

Recently, a mum led a discussion on getting kids to put their clothes into the laundry basket. Nagging didn’t work for her girls.

I’ve 3 boys aged 6 years old and under. No such problem. No nagging needed.

Before starting a home practice (or home learning session), it’s important to have a neat, tidy and inviting learning area. So my kids must tidy up in the morning.

After each session, it’s also important (at least in our home) to return the learning area back to the same neat and tidy state. Seriously, I get a big headache if the house is in a mess and accidentally stepping on toys / materials is totally not fun at all.

Anyway, the key is: Use natural consequence.

From baby and toddlerhood onwards, I’d teach the child to help put clothes into the laundry basket, put toys away and help fold the blanket.

1. Putting clothes INTO the laundry basket

At a certain age, they may decide not to bother, so I tell them I only wash clothes IN the laundry basket. If they clothes are outside, I’d just shove them to a corner to accumulate. Or I suggest they can handwash their own clothes in the sink. If anyone runs out of clothes to wear, think of a way out.

(At the same time, make sure they only have 3 to 4 sets of clothes in the drawers. Hide all the rest. Soon, clothes will run out.)

2. Keeping toys

For keeping toys, I give a time limit. At the agreed time, if I still see toys lying around: “Oh… looks like nobody likes these toys. It’s ok, mummy will keep them AND keep them away to my secret place for a l…o…n…g time until someone likes the toys enough to keep them properly.”

This is usually followed by a rush of “I like the toys!” and mad-keeping.

3. Making the bed

For making the bed, if I appear at the said time every morning and see messy blanket / pillow / bolster / soft toys: “Oh… Look like no one likes them, so you don’t need to use them, mummy will keep them away. It’s ok, you can sleep on a bare bed, so there’s nothing to tidy up in the morning.” Say with a big smile.

This is usually followed by “I want the blanket / pillow / bolster / teddy!” and mad-tidying.

So the key is “natural consequence”. If I can handle 3 little boys, so can everyone. All the best!

Read the rest of the latest series:

Part 1: List of home practice materials & books

Part 3: How to correct your child’s behaviour. No screaming needed.

P.S. Check out my online workshops HERE.

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6 thoughts on “How to get kids to tidy up. No nagging needed.”

  1. Pingback: Home practice learning materials and books

  2. Pingback: correct child’s behaviour | montessori | discipline

  3. Thanks for the tips. Yes I do the same things when my children don’t tidy up. My 8 years old daughter is alright. She helps me around the house as I trained her from one year old onwards. She is independent. Its my boy who is 5 plus giving me a bit of a difficult time. I have to keep running him along. He is not like his sister who could do a lot more when she was that age. And he has no interest in his studies. He is obsessed with drawing. My daughter is doing very well in school but I think my boy may not next time.

    1. mievee @

      Thanks for your comment, Mary. The traditional schooling system is generally designed by females (nearly 100% preschool teachers are females!), and the main caregiver usually females (commonly the mum or grandma or female helper).

      The system and how we’re brought up are mainly targeted at girls, and may not suit boys. We need to deliberately learn what motivate boys. So if it may not be that he isn’t interested in studies. It could be the way the subjects are taught don’t motivate him to learn.

      Drawing is a great interest. And being “obsessed” in one area of interest is the start of building a passionate interest, which if well-nurtured could make him an outstanding figure in his chosen field.

      Perhaps he’s a very visual, imaginative and hands-on person. (See all his positive traits, be encouraging, positive and remove all worries.) Try to blend such elements when teaching him.

      If you believe he’d succeed, he’d succeed someday. That’s the power of a mum.

      All the best!

      ~ MieVee

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