The little ones can be really messy at times, especially after they enter 1 year old. That's when they gain more independence by learning to walk. They can now throw your socks into the kitchen basin - just to name one example. My lil man is no exception.
I don't really stop my lil man from doing most of the things he wants to do, unless it's dangerous act or something expensive is in danger hahaha! Even if he is doing what is seem to be dangerous, I don't tend to stop him either, I just make sure I stand by him to help out, if needed. 9 out of 10 times, he doesn't need my help. This is another topic.
So, I believe that I don't have to and I shouldn't be stopping my lil man to explore new things. Anyway, this is what he's supposed to do as a young child! We're old enough to know books are not to be stepped on, drinking water is not be spilled all over the floor, and used diapers are not to be sniffed! To them, these are all new experiences.
My principle is for him to be held responsible for the mess he causes. Every single time. If he places his toys in every corner of the house, he'll have to go to every corner to pick them up. If he spills water, he'll have to wipe it. If he throws away his rice, he'll have to clean up the floor later. Really, if he does clean up the mess later, why do we need to be harsh on him?
Some tips here to help:
1. Get him a place of his absolute own
We bought him a little house from IKEA and told him from day 1 that it's his space. To make it habitual, we store all of his toys inside the little house. Before he goes to sleep at night, he needs to keep all his toys inside the little house.
2. Tell him what to do beforehand
We will let him know that he needs to stay back to clean the mealtime aftermath, don't scold or warn him, just tell him clearly. Sometimes when we eat out, we will also try to clean the leftover food that he throws on the floor and make him watch us do it. He might not get it yet, but we hope he can learn from our action.
3. Do it together
I think they are just too young to be left alone to clean the mess, they might feel abandoned and develop negative feelings when they are told to perform their responsibilities. So, we do it together. I realise that instead of instructing him to do something, I start doing it first and invite him along is a much better way. He's at this golden stage to imitate our actions so it's a fun thing for him too.
4. Teach by actions
To not stop him means don't yell at him or punish him for doing something which we think is not right. But we also need to educate him on what is right from wrong. The best way is to teach him through what we do. To be honest, my lil man is still repeating the same things (I won't say they're mistakes) everyday. However, I still believe that we don't have to beat him up or scold him. After all, he's just 22 months old, there's still a lot in him to be developed before he can truly understand our instructions. Meanwhile, just stay calm and make sure we as adults, don't do the same thing hehe.
5. Persistence and perseverance
If he runs away 10 times, I'll go and take him back to the "crime scene" on the 11th time to clean his own mess. Like I told my friends, it only takes me 10 minutes to eat with him, but I need to spend another 30 minutes to get him to come back and clean the floor with me. Don't think this is a waste of time and it's faster for you to clean for them. If you clean for them once, they'll know they don't have to come back ever. Children are this smart. My lil man, albeit very active, will sit down and clean the mess with me. Of course, this is after so many practices.
Good luck!! 😉