The transition from caring for a baby to caring for a toddler can be difficult for many parents. Implementing discipline techniques and teaching young children how to behave does not always come naturally. Once children are old enough to know right from wrong however, it is important for parents to teach children how to take care of belongings within the home. Whether motivating a child to take care of his own possessions or items belonging to the entire family, knowing how to teach him respect and appreciation for property will aid in overall success for the parents and child alike.
Speak to your children honestly about why they should take care of their belongings. Be firm and focus on the acts that you disagree with, rather than placing the blame on the children specifically. If a child throws his toys, instead of saying, "You don't take care of your toys!," consider telling him, "Look, when you throw your toys they can become scratched and broken. If you set your toys down gently, they won't break as easily."
Tell your child how important it is to take care of all his belongings, and stress this point more than once. Follow up each example with information on why you disapprove with his current actions and search for methods to improve together. Center your attention toward teaching your child a lesson instead of making him feel guilty.
Lead by example. Children take note of parents' patterns; therefore, showcase care toward your own belongings. As the saying goes, "Actions speak louder than words," and children do in fact look up to their parents. For instance, make up your own bed and put away the dishes before asking your child to make up her bed and put away her toys so your daughter is aware of what is expected within the household and has a role model to look up to.
Praise a child's achievements. According to Psychologist Julius Segal, Ph.D. in an article for the American Psychological Association, "just as it is important to let [children] know how strongly you feel about their unkind acts, it's important to let them know how highly you regard their kind ones." When your child does put away his toys where they belong, consider stating: "I saw how you placed your toy back where it belongs when you were done playing with it. I'm really proud that you did that, and now you have more room to play with other toys later." Children will feed off the praise and gain a deeper motivation for treating their belongings with care.
Create consequences for when your child doesn't take care of things within the home. Initially, provide your child with a warning and talk to him about what he could have done better. From the second warning on, consider other methods of getting the point across, including taking a toy away from the child for a given amount of time, or preventing him from receiving a new toy or special gift until he can take care of what he already has. Make sure that a child is made aware of what you expect from him before disciplining him for the problem. Follow through with the warnings you tell your child. He will notice when warnings and possible punishments never follow through, instilling a belief within him that his actions aren't that bad, and that he can continue acting a certain way without a fear of punishment. Likewise, don't focus on disciplining too much initially, as overly restricting a child can lead to acting out in rebellion. Find a reasonable balance that works for both yourself and your child.