The “Clean up your room” battle has likely been waged inside just about every home with kids. You know the drill — the chore is suggested only to be met with whines, refusals, distractions and dawdling. Over time, the parent’s insistence becomes louder and the child’s resistance becomes stronger. Sound familiar? Although this regular weekend routine is a difficult (and often dreaded) one, it is actually an important lesson to teach children. Encouraging kids to clean up and take care of their belongings is something that can, and should, be instilled from a young age, and will help children learn values, discipline, boundaries and more. Establishing regular routines such as cleaning up a bedroom also helps to provide predictability and stability in a child’s life — essential elements for healthy upbringing and development. If you want to make the weekly clean-up into a helpful lesson rather than a screaming match, read on for five tips to try out on your child next time a clean-up is due.
Make Chores Fun
It’s no secret kids love games, so why not use this knowledge to help make “tidy time” a little more fun and less stressful for everyone involved? Rather than simply telling your child to go clean up, you can instead introduce games to the activity. For example, some parents play a Clean Up version of Hide-and-seek whereby the child counting to 100 has to clean up the room they’re in while they count. Other parents mix in fun, short activities such as dancing, singing or reading for a set time in between cleaning up in order to break up the chore. Adding an element of spontaneity and fun to a job that children would otherwise moan about is a sure-fire way to get the work accomplished much more quickly and with less hassle.
Make Sorting Easy
Sometimes kids don’t want to clean up their items or their rooms because the task just feels too overwhelming. This issue can be mitigated by ensuring that it’s not too difficult for children to sort their items. Provide each child with their own defined space (for example their own bedroom; a definite half of a room; a specific box in the playroom and so on). It can also help to use name labels that can be attached to the various laundry baskets, containers and other storage facilities that a child’s belongings need to be sorted into. This helps to give a child a sense of pride over their precious items and will encourage them to keep things neat and orderly as a result.
Present a Choice
Kids like to feel a sense of control over their lives. This is something parents can keep in mind when wanting to encourage their kids to clean up on a more regular basis. Instead of simply commanding a child to clean their room, it can help to present them with a choice. For example, explain that they can either clean up or go to bed early or that they can tidy up or not watch television for the rest of the day.
Provide Positive Verbal Reinforcement
Children are motivated by positive verbal reinforcement, so don’t forget to encourage them each time they clean up by commenting on what a wonderful job they’re doing. For example, you can try out positive feedback such as telling your child how proud you are of them, praising them on completing the chore and explaining how much you love that they are helping you to keep the home clean and safe.
Set a Good Example
While you might find it tempting to clean up when your kids are at school or asleep so that you can achieve more in less time, if you want your children to learn how to tidy you should lead by example as well. Set a good example when your children are around you, and they will have the chance to watch and “help” you clean up over time. This enables them to mimic your actions and understand that cleaning up takes time, and is something everyone in the household needs to do, not just them.