Some parents feel it is a never-ending battle to keep their house clean. The responsibility of keeping a clean home should not rest only on the parents. Teaching your child how to clean instills discipline, responsibility, and pride in accomplishments. Implementing fun ways to teach your child how to clean will return dividends for years to come.
Make It a Game
Children need to learn the positive association that goes along with cleaning. Even if the product doesn’t bring them satisfaction right now, the fun you bring into cleaning up will help develop it over time. Implement different games with your children while cleaning up. Setting a timer to see “how fast you can do it” is a great way to teach the concept of time and encourage your child to get involved. Timer games can be played with an hourglass, countdown timer, or music to help encourage your child to race against the clock.
You can also play games with your child like counting how many items they can pick up, finding a lucky piece of garbage that is rewarded when picked up, or even playing an “I Spy” cleanup game. The games you play with your child are limitless. Be sure to encourage and congratulate your child as they successfully perform tasks.
Turn on Music
Music naturally induces positive vibes and increases our heartbeat. When you play music while cleaning, you make the job go faster and keep everyone in a good mood. Blasting a cleanup song, your child’s favorite soundtrack, or tunes from your past is a great way to get everyone up and moving. You may consider setting aside a specific song or soundtrack that you only listen to while cleaning, this way when the music turns on your child knows what time it is. Music is meant to make the process more fun, don’t be afraid to sing out loud and dance while you clean to make the experience more enjoyable.
Work With Them
You are a significant role model for your children, they watch what you do and often try to imitate it. Choosing to work with your child sets an example of what you expect from them and helps them feel like they are not alone. If you have a young child, using the Piggyback Rider is a wonderful way to bond with them while you clean together. This will also allow your toddler to reach high up places and assist you with chores while your hands are free to work.
Working with your child lets them have more freedom in the chores they complete. Cleaning with your kids also lets them try things like polishing furniture that you wouldn’t want them doing on their own. When your children are under supervision, they learn more skills that allow them to take on more responsibility without you worrying about their ability to complete certain tasks.
Avoid Big Projects
When tackling a cleaning project, it can quickly become overwhelming for your child. If every toy they own is strewn across the floor it can feel like too big of a project for them to complete. It is important to stop playtime and encourage picking up before the messes get too big. If they have too many toys, put some away in storage and rotate them throughout the year. This will help keep messes to a minimum and toys fresh and new. Remember, your child is going to feel overwhelmed more easily than you and the degree of work you expect from them should be catered to their age and ability.
Establish a Place for Everything
When teaching your child to clean, it is important that you establish a place for everything in your home. Simply directing your child to “clean up” with no additional instructions will result in their placing any item wherever they want to get it out of the way. When instructing your child, give them clear directions on where to place an item: on the bottom shelf, in the closet, etc. Everything from toys, shoes, toothbrushes, and household items should have a clearly defined resting place. Creating a pattern and specific place for everything will establish consistency in where they put items and make the organization in your home clearer.
Choose Age-Appropriate Tasks
For your child to enjoy the tasks they are given, they must be appropriate for their skill level and abilities. Assigning tasks to your children can start as soon as they know how to walk independently. However, that doesn’t mean they can immediately start doing the dishes. Teach your child cleaning principles that are age appropriate. First teach them how to pick up after themselves. Don’t hover or redo their work as that will communicate that no matter what they do, you’ll always be there to fix it.
If your child enjoys activities that they may be too young for, like vacuuming, give them a toy vacuum so they can practice alongside you. When you assign projects equal to your child’s abilities, they are better able to learn and feel a sense of accomplishment. Pride in their accomplishments will establish good cleaning habits for the rest of their life.
Children flourish when they have structure and a set routine in their life. Staying consistent with cleaning times will help your child to expect and contribute better. Choosing to pick up their toys before they leave the room happens when you are consistently reminding and helping them to do so. Occasional commands to clean are ineffective because your child will not know what is expected of them. Make cleaning with your child a habit.
A bedtime routine can also be very beneficial for your child because it helps them wind down and creates a clean space for them to relax. Try helping your child “put the house to sleep” by picking up around them, completing after dinner cleanup, and saying “goodnight” to their toys. As the house rests, they will have an easier time resting too.
Every child is different, meaning which techniques you find successful will be different. Starting small, with fun in mind will create positive routines for the rest of their life. When habits are effectively established, keeping a clean home should never be a battle.
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