November 24, 2008

Getting Children to Look After Their Clothes

Fact: children are hard-wearing on clothes. Whether it’s a new pair of shoes that come home after one day’s wear scuffed and battered, the snowy-white socks turned green with grass stains or the discovery of the school blazer, wrinkled up in the corner after you’ve so carefully pressed it with the steam iron can be disheartening. But if your little ones aren’t aware of how much work it takes to keep them neat and tidy, it’s worth teaching them to look after themselves, cutting down on your work and giving them a life skill in the process. So how do you instil a sense of responsibility for their clothes?

Create the right environment

Your kids will be more likely to put their clothes away if they have a set place for every item. Plastic under bed storage is a great way of stowing away shoes. Make sure they have a wardrobe they can reach, with plenty of hangers and space for everything. Buy a large, easy to use laundry basket. Show them how to separate colours for the washing machine. This doesn’t have to be a chore, your child will find learning to take care of themselves more fun than you would think.

Establish a routine

Designate Sunday evening as the time to prepare for the week ahead at school. Stress to your child that it is their responsibility to look after their things, not yours. And don’t forget to ask them if they’re happy they have everything they need for the week ahead. Children will feel good about themselves if they feel they have participated in their own organisation for the week. Encourage them to lay out their school uniform the night before, polish their shoes and make sure there are no creases or stains. Making a game of uniform inspection with younger children will make it more fun, and having everything laid out will take the stress out of Monday mornings for both parent and child.

Teach them how it’s done

It’s an easy and common excuse for kids that don’t want to do housework that they don’t know how it’s done, so make sure you show them. Introduce the kids to little tips and tricks that will help them stay neat throughout the course of the day, such as using a lint roller to keep dark fabrics neat, or throwing a t-shirt in the dryer for five minutes to smooth out any wrinkles.

Just remember to be encouraging, consistent, and don’t lose your patience with mistakes. Having pride in a neat appearance is a crucial life skill, and instilling this in your children from an early age will serve them well later in life.

Image by Salim Fadhley used under the Creative Commons license. 

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