How To Get Children To Pack Away

Making a mess is fun! But what happens when it’s time to pack everything away?

As parents and caregivers, we often think encouraging children to pack away is more trouble than its worth. After all, we are faster, neater and we certainly don’t have augments with ourselves…
But, there is much more for children to learn from this than you may think. It’s about life skills – respecting others, respecting property and respecting ourselves.
Providing children with opportunities to learn life skills can sound daunting and unnecessary at a young age. But it doesn’t have to be! Simple tasks such as packing away can support children’s social skills through team work. It’s not likely you’re going to be able to say to your young one “pack those blocks up please” and expect them to just do it. Instead, helping children and role modelling will draw them in. Young children like to imitate and help. They will want to help you because they feel included and, with the right encouragement, they will also feel a sense of achievement.
You don’t want to turn this into a chore – instead make it fun. Try incorporating your loved one’s favourite things into the task. Get them to load their blocks into their truck and dump it in the box. Count the toys as they go away, tell a story about them or name the colours. You know your child better than anyone else, so use it to your advantage.
letv235_fThe language you use can also influence how well they pack away. Children crave encouragement and praise. They love attention and will do whatever gets them attention the fastest. While this is a massive topic, I’ll try to sum it up…

  • When children do something negative and you criticise them immediately, they will continue this behaviour because they got attention for it.
  • When children do something positive and you praise it immediately, they will repeat this behaviour because they got attention for it.

The moral of the story – ignore negative behaviour and praise positive behaviour. This in turn builds a great self-esteem and sense of worth.
So, no matter how small the achievement, acknowledge it. If your child has put a block back in the box, recognise it and then immediately encourage them to place another in there. Try saying something like, “Well done. Look how well you are packing away. Did you want to get the blue block next?” When you master what your child responds well to, you will find that all those little negotiations become easier.

child-bucketYou may be thinking how hard it will be to break through to children with this new habit. But believe me, this one will be worth your while! Imagine not having to tidy the toys any more. Even better, imagine a teenager keeping a tidy room or doing the dishes…. Instill good habits now and it may pay dividends later!
I hope I have inspired you to persist with your child’s packing away habits. So, the next time the toy box is empty and you can’t see your floor, turn it into a game. Count the toys, name the colours, use trucks to cart the blocks back to the box. Now is the time to make tidying fun!


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