How to Teach Your Child to Make Their Bed

Little girl holding up a bed sheet with her mother.

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There comes a point in every parent's life when they are cleaning up the aftermath of a toy tornado and think, "Wait, why isn't my kid doing this?" Good news—they should be! While most kids don't exactly enjoy doing chores, creating structure and good habits is essential for their growth and development.

"Chores teach kids a lot of important emotional and social lessons," explains psychotherapist Amy Morin, LCSW, author of "13 Things Strong Kids Do" and member of the Verywell Family Review Board. "They learn to become responsible people who understand the importance of pitching in and doing their part."

One of the best introductory chores for your little one is to have them make their bed in the morning. "It is simple and doesn't take too long," says Morin. Of course, you have to teach them the ropes before they can get into the habit.

Here, we will explore how to teach your child to make their bed, the benefits of chores, and how real-life parents have mastered the bed-making task with their kids.

The Benefits of Children Doing Chores

It turns out, a simple chore like making the bed can have a significant impact on kids! Research has shown that those who are given chores as children grow up to become happier, healthier, and more independent adults. "Chores improve their self-esteem, as they recognize that they are able to make a difference," says Morin. "They also gain a sense of accomplishment and see how their behavior impacts other people."

Amy Morin, LCSW

Chores improve [a child's] self-esteem, as they recognize that they are able to make a difference.

— Amy Morin, LCSW

Benefits of Children Making the Bed

  • Gets them into the habit of completing a chore
  • Provides a sense of accomplishment
  • Improves confidence and self-esteem
  • Starts the day off on a positive note

Teaching Your Child To Make the Bed

Morin suggests starting as specific as possible, giving them step-by-step instructions to make the bed. "That could include anything from pulling up the sheets to organizing the pillows, depending on how messy your child's bed gets overnight," she says.

It can be helpful to show your child each step and talk through how you do it. (Saying things like: "First, I will pull up the sheet and straighten it. Then, I will pull up the blanket and tuck it in. Finally, I will arrange the pillows.") Walk them to one side of the bed and have them straighten the bedding, then have them do the same on the other side. Show them what a bed should look like once it is all made.

At first, things might look a little disheveled, but that is OK! Each time they make the bed, have them focus on a different skill. For example, first, have them work on pulling up the sheets so that they cover each corner. Next, they can work on smoothing out the sheets to get rid of any scrunched-up areas.

After they've mastered that, they can move on to the comforter, followed by creating a way to organize the pillows. Once they start to understand all of the basics, you can have them give it a shot while you supervise.

When it comes to the specific task of making the bed, Morin explains that it is a helpful chore to assign since it needs to be completed every day. This gets them into the habit of completing a chore, which can motivate them to tackle other jobs. "Making their bed in the morning also gives them an opportunity to experience a sense of accomplishment in the morning and it may start their day off better," adds Morin.

Amy Morin, LCSW

Making their bed in the morning also gives them an opportunity to experience a sense of accomplishment in the morning and it may start their day off better.

— Amy Morin, LCSW

To make it a little more fun, Morin also recommends having your child "teach" a doll or stuffed animal how to make the bed. "Teaching someone else will reinforce what they're learning," she explains. The more they practice, the more confident they will become.

For little ones with a mountain of stuffed animals on the bed, designate a special box or area of the room to store them. In the morning, show them how to take each toy, one by one, and put them away. (Explain that it is much easier to make the bed once it's all clear!) When it is bedtime, they can go to their special "bedtime toy" area and pick out the ones they want to snuggle with.

The more they practice, the more confident they will become. Remember, it is not important that it is perfect—it is important that they tried!

Tips From Parents

For Trisha, a Virginia mom of three boys (ages 2, 4, and 5 at press time), she started teaching her oldest the habit around 3 years old. "I incorporated it into our morning chores," she says. "I [told] him that it was part of his responsibility now that he was a big boy and has his own bed."

She also decided to skip the top sheet and just use the comforter. "I showed him how to put his comforter [on] and fold it back a little where his pillow goes, and [to] set his pillow where he sleeps," she explains. "He has a special blanket he has to fold and place on his bed as well."

Trisha, a Virginia mom of three

We definitely have a harder time getting him to do it in the summer when we are not on a schedule. But when it is the school year, he doesn't have a problem since we are more on a schedule.

— Trisha, a Virginia mom of three

Her only struggle was keeping up the habit outside of school mornings. "We definitely have a harder time getting him to do it in the summer when we are not on a schedule," she shares. "But when it is the school year, he doesn't have a problem since we are more on a schedule."

Ana, a Massachusetts mother of a 6-year-old son (a press time), also began teaching him the process at 3 years old. She believes in applauding his efforts no matter what. "I will never correct him, even if the bed isn’t made up correctly," she says. "[I] will tell him how great of a job he did and to keep up the great work." 

Her reason is simple: "Truthfully, just the smile alone [for] how proud he is [to help] his mommy is amazing."

Of course, there are times when the struggle is all too real, and Virginia mom-of-two Amberlee is the first to admit that. "It was always such a task," she says. "They would clean their rooms [but] their beds always looked a mess." Her boys, ages 11 and 13 (at press time), started the task around 5 years old.

After nothing seemed to work, she found a product created specifically to combat the issue. The entire bedding fits like a fitted sheet, containing two zippers on each side. "It is like a fancy one-piece unit for the bed," she explains. "Now they make their beds every day because it is simple. One zipper on each side and they are done."

For the Child Who Refuses To Make the Bed

If you have a stubborn child, Morin suggests rather than nagging them you only allow certain privileges after they complete the task. For example, maybe they are not allowed to use their electronics or watch TV until the bed is made. At that point, it is up to your child to decide how often they get those privileges.

Morin adds that you can also create a sticker chart for a motivational visual. "Give them a sticker each day they make their bed," she says. "Once they earn a certain number of stickers, allow them to pick out a larger reward."

A Word From Verywell

Making the bed is an opportunity to boost your child's confidence, improve their self-esteem, and help them realize that their contributions (even simple ones) are important. Household chores foster a healthy level of independence and a strong work ethic in children, which sets them up for success later in life.

No matter how you approach making the bed, try to be patient, understanding, and offer praise whenever possible. Remember, it might seem like a small task, but to kids, it is a big job!

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  1. Vaillant, GE, McArthur, CC, Bock A. Grant Study of Adult Development, 1938-2000. Harvard Dataverse, V4. 2010. doi:10.7910/DVN/48WRX9