I have a four year old. As everyone knows I’m sure, four year olds make a HUGE mess. She will be 5 next month but her bedroom is getting insane with the mess. I’ve cleaned out the old toys just a couple months ago getting rid of 8 trash bags full of toys. Thought it would help with the mess in her room but it didn’t.
So I’m wondering, how old should a child be before they should be responsible in keeping their own room clean? It takes about 4 hours to clean it. It takes about two days to get it back to this
If her cousins come it takes about one hour to get it like this
I try to stay on her in keeping her room clean when it’s clean but still somehow it doesn’t last longer than 4 days at most.
Is it normal for a kid to have a room this trashed all the time? When should they be responsible in keeping it clean themselves and when should they be responsible in cleaning it themselves?
I’ve tried to get her to clean it herself but she just sits there saying “I need help!” and when I “help” she sits there or plays while I clean. I continuously have to tell her to clean with me and still she doesn’t do much. Is this normal?
How can I get her to stop making such a huge mess in her room?
She will pick her toys up out of the living room but just throws them into the doorway of her room.
@kris325: I have a 2 1/2 year old who picks up after herself. Most of the time only when I ask but she does it. I think 3-4 year olds should know how to clean up after them selves. Set rules. Like I tell my Dirty Delete if you don’t clean up then you can’t watch your favorite TV show, or if you don’t clean up then you are going to bed early tonight. She hops right to it especially for her favorite TV show. Hang in there I know its frustrating. You have to be consistent though. Keep your word on the punishment. I did my own laundry at the age of 6. I was the kid with the messy room. My parents would tell me “You will stay in there till it’s all clean even if you miss dinner.” That’s how it worked for me. Hope this helps(:
I’d say as soon as they’re physically capable of picking things up and putting them away! haha. Growing up my mom (a notorious neat freak though, I must say) had a rule of (I forget the number) only a certain number of toys allowed out at a time…so let’s say 3 toys, and if you wanted to play with another, you had to put one away. As a kid I hated it, but followed it, and now as an “adult” I realize that my mom was right and there’s NO reason to have more than a handful of toys out at a time….When people were over the rule was lifted…but you can bet my cousins wouldn’t have been allowed to leave my house without my mom making them help clean it all up after! I have recollections of my mom telling me to put away toys long before 5 years old, I have memories of cleaning up with pre-K friends… (Ps my mom was not strict, she’s the most lenient, liberal mom I’ve ever met, she’s just anal about mess)
@kris325: If they can walk they can pick up after themselves. You should get her in the habit that if you leave a room you leave it like it was when you came in. It’ll save you stress in her teen years.
My stepdaughter is 4, almost 5 and she’s not good about picking up after herself. Her favorite game seems to be take everything out and put it all over the house. However, I know she’s expected to put things away and pick up after herself at her montessori school so I tell her the rules are the same at home. It takes some reminding and some helping her but it never gets too out of hand. I also don’t keep a ton of stuff for her, I toss or donate or give away so that it doesnt’ get overwhelming.
I think it is best to teach kids when they are young. Instill it as a habit in them to clean up after themselves daily – and make sure you are living by example in the rest of the house. If you allow her to trash her room that badly, then yes, I do think she needs help cleaning it back up. But if you spend a good week working with her daily to show her she needs to put toys back where she got them on a daily basis, then you won’t end up with a trashed room in 4 days. Tidying up is a daily activity. I can’t emphasize “daily” enough. Teaching needs to be consistent and regular. Also, if she sees you don’t clean up after yourself in the rest of the house, she’ll be less tempted to learn what you’re teaching her. “Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t get people very far.
i’ve done a lot of observations of child care centers for my work, and the vast majority that I’ve seen have a “clean up time” built into their schedule where the kids (like, ages 2.5 up) put away whatever they’ve been playing with during that period, so it definitely is not too early to start with your 4 year old! the key is making sure the storage is accessible to them so they can easily take out and put away their toys/books/etc as they use them.
Wedding: June 2014 - Ontario, Canada ♥ EDD- April 2016
I think 3-4 is a good age to enforce it a bit more, but once they can walk and take out toys is a good time to introduce the idea. In Kindergarten the kids are expected to clean up after themselves so I think that mindset should be instilled in them at home around that age too.
Kids can be taught as young as 18 months or even younger to put their toys away when they’re done. You help them, of course, but you guide them along so they understand that we put things away in their place when we’re finished playing.
One thing I would do in this case (because that is a serious mess) would be to limit the toys available to her – have a set amount of different things in places she can access herself. If she wants other toys that are put away or higher up, she will need to pick up what she’s played with and put it away before you give her something else.
My daughter is 9 now, and she can be messy – it’s a fact that some kids are just messier than others. In general, I let her keep her room how she wants as long as she ensures that special toys/breakable things are put away properly and her mess doesn’t extend into shared parts of the house. Once a week or every two weeks if we’re lazy, she has to do a full, thorough cleaning so that I can vacuum and walk through without stepping on things. I don’t hassle her too much these days because it’s usually an ongoing game that she’s playing, but she knows that whatever mess is made is her responsibility and that she will be made to clean up at least once per week. When she was smaller, I was much more strict about the mess because I didn’t want to have to always be the one cleaning up after her.
Between 2 and 3 they develop enough awareness to help out with cleaning up. You are going to have to help out at first but make sure they assist you with cleaning up. Make their task easy to start with (pick up the trash, put toys in toy box) and gradually make them responsible for more and more as they get older and more able to clean up by themself. For me it helped that my stepdaughter went to daycare and daycare encourages them to help clean up; they even had a clean up song we would sing at home.
If they pitch a fit about cleaning up. Let them have a short break and then go back to the room for clean up. If they still refuse to help then send them to timeout for a short period of time before going back to the room clean up. (Do not clean anything up while they aren’t cleaning up. Only help them when they are helping you.) If they still refuse after timeout then I remind them that they don’t want me to clean up everything on my own because toys/teddies have a tendency to go missing when I put them away (really they get trashed or donated but I don’t threaten them with this.)
If you absolutely must clean up for them then 1) they cannot do anything fun while you are cleaning up; 2) they are not going to watch you clean up so put them in the hallway or another room nearby; 3) once old enough to understand they will not be allowed to have friends over to visit or cousins in their room the next time they ask.
The best advice I can give is make clean up easy for them by providing a big toy box or buckets for them to put toys in. That way they can just focus on getting things off the floor/bed and into the box or bucket without worrying about it all being perfectly organized.
Ps we also did Barney’s “Clean Up” song as we put things away, both at home and in Pre-K. It BEYOND helped. We had a song for everything in my house. Brush your “tooties” time for teeth brushing, a song that my dad sang when it was time to come down to dinner…It made everything more fun 🙂
I was making my bed and cleaning my room all by myself when I was 5…and most of the time my parents wouldn’t have to ask me to, I would just do it. I think it’s all about consistency and creating a habit early on.
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