Creative Child

When Children Make Messes

by Allie Garcia on Aug 17th, 2015

Continued....

Self-Control:

When done right, allowing children to make messes actually helps them to be more self-controlled. Our parenting philosophy is mostly based on the idea that we say yes as often as possible, and set boundaries for our children to enjoy their “yes” in! When children feel trusted by adults, and know that they have the freedom to express themselves and their ideas, they are less likely to rebel to gain control.

For example, when her daddy was away, I let her have all access to the sidewalk chalk. I spent the weekend teaching her that she may use chalk whenever she wants, but can only write on the ground or the back wall. After a few slip-ups, she is now able to independently retrieve her chalk and limit it to the spaces that we allowed. We have an easy to clean up mess (in which she hoses it off herself) and she has the freedom to create and explore within healthy boundaries. She is learning to limit herself and follow the rules set for her. 

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Responsibility:

This may be one of the most important factors in the idea of encouraging mess making! Parents will make themselves crazy if they take it upon themselves to clean up all of their children’s messes, and subsequently will refrain from allowing children to make messes in the first place. None of us are going to seek out more items for our to-do list. While they are little (starting as young as 12-15 months), our babies need lots of support and encouragement to clean up after themselves.

If we invest this time while they are young, we raise independent, self sufficient, little people who are not making an excessive amount of more work for their parents. We often let our daughter sit in the bathtub to finger paint and get paint all over the bathtub walls. She knows that after painting in the bath, it will be her job to use a sponge and scrub it off, then bathe, and wash her body.

When we encourage children to make messes and clean up after themselves, we allow them to develop a strong awareness of natural consequences and the joy of creating. The sky is the limit when it comes to exploring our children’s gift sets and providing them with hours of entertainment a day when we allow them to be messy.

I recently heard someone say that their parenting approach is to let their kids do all of the things that wouldn’t be acceptable in adulthood! Donning homemade macaroni necklaces, with hands dyed purple, while they bury and dig up dinosaurs hidden in mud pies means that they spent their day making messes. They are being kids who will grow up to be physically and emotionally strong, self-controlled, responsible, and confident contributors to our world.

Allie Garcia has worked for the last seven years in the field of special education as teacher, mentor and online instructor. She has a masters degree in special education and was awarded as Clark County School District's New Teacher of Year. In January 2014, her life was forever changed by the birth of her baby, Mila Skye. On most days, Allie can be found changing diapers, having kitchen dance parties, and laughing at toddler antics with her sweet husband and crazy puppy in Henderson, Nevada.

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