Getting a toddler to tidy up is usually easier than it will be when they are a teenager, but it can still be a challenge. Introducing it at an early stage and making it a fun part of your play routine helps to create a habit that will hopefully last ... for a few years at least! There are lots of reasons why encouraging Tots to tidy is a positive thing but these three may surprise you:
1) Tidying up teaches your child to problem solve
Tidying up can be a brain teaser for small children. It is easy to make a mess, but physically working out how everything goes back together uses a different part of the brain. Think, for example, of sorting toys into their right boxes – the balls might go in one, the teddies in another, the cars in another and so on. Tidying may also involve putting puzzle pieces in the right place or putting blocks back together - this all involves higher level cognitive processes.
Through tidying up, they will additionally learn how to work more efficiently. It is quicker to pick up several items at once than one at a time, and choosing which items to pick up together involves grouping them in the most proficient way.
All of these activities are just part of tidying up, and as a parent you don’t need to explicitly teach it, just give them an experience that supports their brain to develop problem-solving skills. When a child has the ability to work through problems, they can apply it to any situation.
2) Tidying up teaches your child that you believe in them
The dynamic of each family is unique, but everyone in every family has a personal role to play. Encouraging children to tidy up gives them a sense of responsibility and makes them feel part of the home. It is more than that though; when you give your child a job to do, you are telling them that you trust them. You are communicating with them that you believe they are capable and important to the family. Their role is relevant.
3) Tidying up teaching your to understand transitions
No matter how much we are enjoying an activity, everything comes to an end. Sometimes children find this difficult to understand, especially if the activity is really good fun. Tidying up is a way of helping children to understand transitions in life and come to terms with things ending.
Tidying at Tots Play
This is why in our Social Tots classes for older babies and toddlers at Tots Play, we make tidying up part of the session. We find that it helps the children understand the process and routine of the class and when the time has come for it to end. We sometimes get some surprised looks from parents and toddlers when we first ask everyone to join in tidying up, but most of the time, the children love it. They feel valued and important and take on the role with enthusiasm (sometimes even before it's even tidy up time!).
With a range of activities on offer at each session, Social Tots classes help build sensory awareness, encourage movement and build physical and cognitive skills. We know too that the skills developed between activities, such as tidying up, switching their focus and learning to manage the flow and structure of a class, are also important and will help prepare them for pre-school and beyond, as well as their role as part of your family. The Tots Play programme, including our classes for younger babies, encourages each child’s personality to shine through as we bring out their love of play and exploration in ways which will stimulate the development of little bodies and minds. Learn more about the different classes on offer, including Social Tots, HERE.
We hope that your Tot will continue their enthusiasm for tidying when they get home too - but we can’t promise anything! If they need a bit more practice, why not come and join us at a class soon? Find your nearest classes HERE.
Whether they are getting out their toys or putting them away, enjoy that special time together. Happy Playing!
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