Mistake #1: Starting without a valid reason from your child’s perspective
Simply telling a child “you must get organised” is not going to work even if you come up with very valid reasons to do so. She may agree to do something about the clutter or her lack of punctuality, but without a strong personal motivation, it’ll be difficult for her to get it going and to keep it up.
Solution #1: Have a discussion with your child and adopt a non-judgemental attitude.
Help her develop an awareness of what her untidy habit is costing her. Look for a point of leverage – the value for her in getting more organised.
For instance, getting an 11-year-old to be on time for her morning school bus pick-up was achieved by carving 5 minutes out in her morning routine for her to style her hair – something she was desperate to do – once she had shown that she could consistently be on time for three weeks.
Solution #2: Involve your child in the process
Involve your child in the organising process and help her build a system that takes her preferences into consideration.
For instance, getting a 10-year-old boy to put his dirty clothes in the laundry basket would involve moving the laundry basket from the bathroom to his bedroom, where he usually gets undressed.
Mistake #3: Letting your child organise with zero help
At the opposite end of the spectrum, some parents simply expect their child to solve the problem on her own. But the child would have solved the problem at hand if she had the skills.
Solution #3: Volunteer your help to your child, but respect her decisions
If organising is not one of your strengths or if you feel you may lack patience or detachment, you may wish to seek the help of a professional organiser who is sensitive to your family’s situation.
Solution #4: Give your child a chance to learn from his or her mistakes
Give your children a chance to learn from their mistakes by pointing out to them and allowing them to bear the consequences of their actions and decision.
Make sure the rest of your household, including your domestic helper, acts accordingly. As renowned advice columnist Ann Landers puts it: “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.”
Mistake #5: Expecting perfection
Your demands for perfection from your children should be avoided. This could undermine their efforts and deter them from putting in more effort all together, especially if they are consistently told that their efforts are not good enough.
It’s also unrealistic to expect changes overnight. As in many other areas, it takes practice to find a system that will work for her. Truth be told, for a new habit to kick in requires about four weeks.
Mistake #6: Assigning chores wrongly
You may think that your 10 year old should be old enough to know how to vacuum the place on her own. But being unfamiliar to actually using the vacuum, especially to those still using vacuums with a plug, she may not be aware of the danger of long wires and the need to unplug the vacuum to another electricity outlet source for the next room. Even if she did, there should be adult supervision when the child is doing the unplugging.
Solution #6: Guide your child patiently
Especially your child is doing the chore for the first three times, it is best to be there to supervise throughout the entire duration so as to be able to guide him or her through. The child might not be aware of how to properly clean the corners, or the damage a tight wire tugging on the base of a light table could do.
Mistake #7: Assigning non-age appropriate tasks
It’s difficult to expect your three year old to make the bed perfectly or to clean up the entire playroom on his or her own. It’s important to mitigate your expectations and assign age-appropriate tasks,
Solution #7: Break down the big task into smaller ones
Your three year old may not be able to make his or her bed perfectly but you can break down the task and assign your child to pack the pillows to how they should be properly places. This simple task would instill confidence in the child. Likewise, instead of asking your four year old to vacuum the entire room, you can let them dust the room or a shelf with old rags or socks
Mistake #8: Being too serious about cleaning
By being too strict and serious about cleaning, this may deter your child from helping out again the next time. If you are too nit-picky and start to correct your child at the slightest mistake, this could deter him or her from helping out again.
Solution #8: Make cleaning up a game
Try to create excitement by making cleaning into a game. You could try adding in a timer to see how fast your child has completed the task or to create a small cleaning competition between his or her siblings.
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Mistake #9: Venting your frustrations about cleaning often
If you often have angry outbursts when cleaning or about cleaning, the child could associate cleaning with unhappiness and would much rather not help out in this ‘difficult and frustrating’ task.
Solution #9: Calm cleaning
When you are cleaning in the presence of your young children, it’s crucial to present a calm demeanor when you begin on your housework. Although it may be challenging at times when you are trying to get a pesky stain off the floor or when the house is just in a mess, take a deep breath and be aware that your children have their eyes on you.
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Mistake #10: Not setting a good example
If you are not setting a good example with your untidy room, then chances are you are giving the signal to your child that being messy is ok. This effect could snowball and your child may grow to have a higher inertia towards cleaning.
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