Did you know that toddlers who make their beds have a 230% greater chance of becoming millionaires than those who don’t, according to one probability study?! OK, we may not necessarily aspire for our little ones to become millionaires (though we may not object either, right?). We may wonder about the reliability of a study like this, but the underlying principle is more than intriguing. What is it about toddlers making their bed that has intrinsic value? Let’s push pause, rewind, and then come back to this.
Two days ago, I took my married daughter out for a “birthday pedicure.” She shared with me that she’d gotten a parenting kit for her birthday that included CDs her children could use while doing “acts of kindness” each day, including making their bed. Since toddlers don’t yet have a clear conception of time passing–five or ten minutes, for example—they do understand how long a song lasts, it helps them serve within a time frame and gets them excited as they learn to repeatedly succeed in simple tasks.
My salon conversation with my daughter about this kit—as my toenails were splashed with creamsicle-colored polish—drummed up the memory of the blog post I’d read just a week earlier about toddlers who make their bed. I decided to revisit it, even more curious to see what the authors had to say that should be worth my attention—all the while thinking I had some ideas… I was a firm believer of children making their beds (and putting their dishes in the sink, asking to be excused from the table, etc.:)).
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Well, I couldn’t find that post for the life of me. However, in the process, as often happens, I stumbled on something else regarding toddlers who make their bed. I was so impressed and resonant with Admiral’s McRaven's take on bed-making that I wanted to share it with you. It “covers” it well.
“Every morning in SEAL training my instructors would show up in my barracks room and inspect my bed. If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under headboard, and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack. It was a simple task, mundane at best. But every morning, we were required to make our bed to perfection. That seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that we were aspiring to be real warriors, tough, battle-hardened SEALs, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if, by chance, you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made–that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better. So if you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”
So, do we want our toddlers to be able to lead in environments that are challenging? To succeed in the big things, to change the world—or change their world? Then let’s start with the little things; let’s teach them to make their beds in the morning, and make it right.
What are important habits YOU teach your toddler?!