As our children get older, their ability to be independent and tidy up after themselves grows stronger and more able. Encouraging our children to do so provides them with responsibility and accountability.
We get it! Through busy days and tight schedules, it’s sometimes easier to grab the toy basket and chuck in all the toys yourself. However, that’s a short term solution! How children learn to tidy up for themselves now sets the standard for chores, independent responsibilities and life “mess” as they get older.

Tips to Help Tidy

There are many ways you can encourage your children to tidy up depending on their age. Adult modelling and constant encouragement can be appropriate for children 1-2. For children 3-4, we can be creative. Here are some ways from Acorns Day Nursery in Exmouth that you can make tidying fun for children encouraging their healthy habits.

  • Attach a ‘Tidy up Song’ to the daily ritual. Here are some choices you can try:
    – The Tidy Up Rhumba
    – The Tidy Up Song
    – The Clean Up Song

  • There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition! Make tidying into a race. Try tactics such as “Who can tidy the fastest?” between siblings or “I bet I can tidy quicker than you!”

  • Use encouragement through confusion to offer pride in children. For example, try saying “I forgot where this toy goes, do you know?” and let them lead you by example. This is great for self esteem and confidence.

  • Reverse psychology works a charm! “I bet you can’t put this away really fast” or “I’m sure you don’t know where this goes” encourages children to prove you wrong!

  • Team it up! Try working in areas in teams. For example, mum and sibling 1 take one half of the room and dad and sibling 2 take another.

  • And lastly, and probably the most important, is to be encouraging! Model good tidying tactics and help your little one succeed.

Other points to consider

Regular routinely patterns to consider for yourself when establishing good tidying tactics are:

  • Stick to a routine. Tidy up at specific times.
  • Have a place for EVERYTHING.
  • Reward children. Use stickers to congratulate. 
  • Always work alongside them.
  • Stick to the one in, one out policy. Don’t let children get out everything as it will be more overwhelming for them to tidy everything.
  • Make it fun. Research ideas! Or speak to a staff member at the nursery to see what best works with your child.

There are so many tactics possible to help children tidy up after themselves! Keep trying different ways till you find the things that work best for you.
The Hive have enjoyed finding their independence outside on a nursery trip! Check out the blog here.