What are messy rules

Chaos in the nursery

How to solve the problem:

  • Own ideas of order: The level of order you need yourself to feel good is demonstrated to the children every day. This affects the children. Perhaps it is the best educational method for teaching children to tidy up or tidy up. Example: Do I make the beds as soon as I get up, in the afternoon or not at all? Is my desk always neatly tidied up or is it “alive”, so to speak: Is there still a book or a folder open? Can you see what someone is doing right now? Do I go crazy as soon as something is not within centimeters of where it "belongs"? Is it the case that a certain chaos first makes me feel cozy? Do the parents have a whole lot of clutter themselves? You cannot expect the child to conform to a certain norm if you are far from it yourself. If everything is mixed up in the parents' room, order should first be put in place before you ask your children to do so.
  • Tolerance: The Germans are classified as very orderly. In other countries there are far more relaxed rules of order! There are many varieties of order. Who wants to presume to classify their own order as the only real thing? Other people's ideas of order, which can be very different from your own, must be tolerated. After all, you will be confronted with it for a lifetime. One may only feel comfortable in a really “big” chaos, another only in a very meticulous order (with one everything is within centimeters; the other has to clear some things aside first to get what he is looking for ). There are many levels in between. Children definitely have their own ideas about order. Parents would describe the condition as “shambles” (and thus avoidable chaos), children see something completely different in it, e.g. a job where they can think of a lot of new things. It is very important to have suggestions for creative activities ready. Children must be able to move freely. Permanent admonitions not to be so loud, not to create so much disorder, not to get dirty, to be considerate of the neighbors, the tired father etc. lead to uncertainty in the child and block his thirst for action. It would be ideal if the child forgets time and space in play so that they can be creative (and learn, because play is learning) undisturbed. Children who play with concentration and perseverance have good skills for school and work and are well armed. It is also very important to remember that children need chaos, because only when a certain amount of toys have been placed do they develop ideas for new games. Creativity arises from it. And isn't creativity a significant, welcome quality? Creativity is needed everywhere: be it at work (how do I manage to work more effectively?), In private (how do I make my child try the healthy lunch?) Or anywhere else. In art, music, fashion, creativity is a key quality.
  • Educational goals: In the past, order was a primary educational goal of parents. Nowadays, most parents want their children to have completely different virtues: independence, for example, ranks much higher. You should keep this in mind if you are upset about the “messy children's room”. By the way: Our whole world has become very confusing, hasn't it? the flood of information is not even remotely overlooked, etc.? maybe it makes perfect sense to make friends with the “chaos”, so to speak. It also requires skills that should not be underestimated if you find your way through the chaos of the children's room. How was that? The genius rules chaos? With regard to the future, it is certainly an advantage if you can keep your nerves under chaotic conditions and keep an overview. Who knows what problems the future generation will have to deal with?
  • Limits: exist and must also be observed where hygienic rules are exceeded or health is endangered. Example: spoiled food belongs in the trash and cannot be left in a corner in the children's room; wet clothes (tracksuit, damp towels, etc.) must not lie on the carpet; Used handkerchiefs lying around increase the risk of infection for the rest of the family, etc. Here we can learn that everyone has to be considerate. There is probably no way around compromises on both sides! Example: The parents expect that hygienic rules are observed and on the other hand they are ready to make concessions regarding “where-belong” (many cars are on the floor, everything is upside down in the drawers).
  • Exceptions: Can the tower, which was built with great effort, remain standing? Aren't Lego buildings too good to be demolished again? One should be considerate here so as not to destroy the pleasure in building (furthermore the imagination) etc. The cities, castles etc. built with a lot of imagination should be given credit by allowing the children to let them stand for a while. After all, the children still have so many ideas to try out with regard to these structures (what does the castle look like with an additional tower? What do I think of when half of the castle is destroyed? What happens if 10 knights suddenly enter the castle?) When buildings get boring, the children pull it down on their own.
  • To clean up: is good for the soul, say psychologists. Chaos spreads a bad mood, because you always have the unloved work to be done in front of you, which prevents relaxation. In addition, you feel as if you were “slain” by the mountain of work in front of you. The child can easily experience that it is uncomfortable to move around in a room in which there is almost nowhere to go, in which something is constantly disturbing.
  • Help: If you don't feel like it yourself, the child will not develop any motivation. Experience has shown that the children will soon join in when the mother (father) starts tidying up. It is wrong to clean everything up by yourself. Instead, let the children help a bit with tidying up from an early age (clearing the dining table, making beds, with the toys, etc.). Children must also be shown exactly how certain things are done or how certain things should be done. Example: making beds; how do I put a pair of pants on the hanger; the jacket to the cloakroom, etc. The norms should not be set too petty and narrowly. It is beneficial to leave the child a few options open as to how to cope with the task (the pillow can be put down or put down; you can put pens in a cup or in a pencil case, etc.) From the age of 5 children are increasingly in the Able to carry out tasks independently.
  • Allow time: It takes the child some time to finish their game that they are so absorbed in. You should be happy that the child is playing so wonderfully and therefore not forcing them to start cleaning up immediately. A time cushion is very helpful. For example, you mention lunch early, after a while you come back to it, etc. You should give the child at least 15 minutes. Smaller children need more time tidying up anyway, because they have to think even more about which part goes where. In this way, parents and educators show understanding for their child and deepen the relationship.
  • Define areas: One is responsible for clothes, the other for rubbish, the other for books, etc. So you don't get in each other's way, e.g. when two people are tidying up in the children's room. Swap responsibilities next time. This is how the modern division of labor works.
  • Use play boxes: Loading and unloading is not unnecessarily difficult here. Open shelves come in handy. Labeling may make the search easier. A yellow box for Legos, a basket for cuddly toys, a blue box for picture books, board games etc.
  • Praise: Children give praise when the room is and remains tidy. Praise is the best! Motto: “You can do the tidying up in no time? You probably know in your dream where what belongs? "
  • Clean up regularly: Do not let such long periods of time pass so that the great chaos cannot develop.
  • Playmates: If other children are visiting, they should also be involved in tidying up the toys they have been playing with. Your own children will later find it unfair if they should put away other people's toys. Another rule would of course also work: The person who owns the room has to tidy up. With mutual play (sometimes with you, sometimes with me) everyone gets the “pleasure” of having to clean up.
  • Music: Fast rhythms increase the motivation when tidying up! So the thoughts do not just revolve around tidying up. Perhaps you can also talk about your next excursion, going to the cinema soon or something similar that will be fun. The matter does not have to be approached bitterly serious and dry. Children are more likely to tidy up with humor and distraction.
  • Family lost property office: In a box with a lid, all things that are scattered “ownerless” in the apartment are thrown into it. In this way, everyone in the family helps ensure that things never lie around for long where they don't belong. The box is only emptied once a week, which means that you won't see your things again so quickly if you left them somewhere beforehand.
  • Responsibility: Increase the level of difficulty. Self-esteem and motivation can be increased if the children are given tasks that are more challenging. Example: Not always just taking out rubbish, but also sorting out expired food from the refrigerator, having the package picked up by the post office, etc. "Simpler" tasks such as cleaning up lose their horror.
  • Shelves at child-friendly height: This enables the children to put away toys on their own and not have to call their mother just because they want to put something away. The hook for the children's jacket must be attached low enough, etc. This is how you promote the children's independence.
  • Seasons: Does the inflatable boat have to be close at hand in winter? Will the kite be used in summer? Store unnecessary ballast somewhere else than in the nursery.
  • Selection of toys: It has proven to be beneficial to give the children only a selection of their toys and then to change them more often. This is also done in kindergarten, for example. Not all picture books are offered, only a part. Example: Why are there Christmas picture books lying around at Easter? He has already looked at one picture book 27 times - then it's time to get another one out. With a lot of toys, it becomes more difficult for the child to keep busy with a part. It feels overwhelmed by the confusion. It then no longer knows what to play with at all. Example: What about 8 puzzles? 4 puzzles are enough at the same time. Toys that the child never plays with can safely be discarded. Perhaps they are stimulated by the fact that they no longer see them? Or it will be interested in it later when you confront it again.

What is worth remembering

Children need chaos to be able to develop creativity. Their game must not be disturbed so that they can pursue their cause with perseverance and concentration.

How I deal with order myself has a tremendous influence on the children (role model, best educational method).

Ultimately, one has to understand that children should and are allowed to feel comfortable in their realm; this also means that their rules of order and their preferences apply to the children's room.


  • B. Coloroso: What children's souls need, Südwest Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Munich, 1997.
  • Parents: The right upbringing from A to Z, VEMAG, Cologne 1999
  • D. Elschenbroich: World Knowledge of the Seven Year Olds, Verlag Antje Kunstmann, Munich 2001
  • D. Kraus-Prause; J. Kraus; E. Nonnenmacher: Lexicon education, rororo, Reinbek near Hamburg, 1995
  • S. Kosubek: Balanced education, Verlag Modernes Lern, Dortmund, 1986.
  • Course book for children, Bertelsmann Club GmbH, Gütersloh, 1993
  • C. Mühlan: Keep calm, mom! Verlag Klaus Gerth, Asslar, 8th edition, 1993

Further contributions by the author can be found here in our family handbook


Beate Weymann, employee of the state of Lower Saxony
Diplomatic socialpedhogogic
37586 Dassel

Created on January 28th, 2002, last changed on March 18th, 2010