One of the hardest tasks a parent faces is getting children to pick up after themselves and clean their bedrooms. Teaching children to keep their bedrooms and closets clean is an important process that teaches them self-discipline. When children learn the value of organization and the benefits it gives, the lesson will last a lifetime. But in the beginning it can be a daunting task and wear on the nerves of the parent.
Instead of feeling like a nag, constantly hounding your child to clean his room, try these techniques to motivate your child to keep his or her room clean.
Provide an Incentive
Offering the child a reward to clean his room is a way to get him motivated. For instance, if your child enjoys playing video games, make the video game a reward for cleaning their room. If the children don’t clean their rooms, they don’t get to play the video games, it’s that simple. This means you cannot buckle under their requests and also requires that you spend a few hours with your children to teach them the way the room must be cleaned. You should not assume no toys shoved under beds or in closets. Everyone needs to be on the same page and understand what is expected and what they are to do.
Use a Visual Tool
Create a chart that the children can put red stars on the days when they clean their room to the set standards. Add another reward, like a gold star, for a full week of cleaning their room. When they have achieved enough gold stars, provide a special outing, such as a trip to the movies, to a friend’s house or to a park. Never use food as a reward, because this can cause a problem all on its own. Use things your children enjoy doing and make them understand these are rewards for jobs well done.
This provides a dual lesson in that it also teaches your child to take care of their personal possessions. When they learn this valuable lesson, it will last a lifetime.
Help your children get organized. Create or buy bins for their toys and provide ample storage for their things. Add a coat rack to the wall behind the door for their jackets and backpacks. Show them that there is a place for everything, and they’ll learn to put it back once they are done with it – which ultimately helps them learn to keep their room clean. When children learn the value of “a place for everything and everything in its place,” their minds are also less cluttered and they learn to think clearly. A cluttered room also means a cluttered mind.
Teach your children that a “job worth doing is worth doing right.” If they don’t clean the room satisfactorily, don’t reward them with a star. While it might take some time to teach this lesson, the reward for having done so will soon become evident.
Set the Example
While many people don’t enjoy housekeeping, it’s a necessary part of life. If you demand that they keep their room clean, but you keep a messy house, your requests are seen as hypocritical. As the parent, your children look up to you as a role model. If you tell them one thing with your words, but do another thing with your actions, you are setting a bad example. As your children grow, you can include other housekeeping chores into their responsibilities. As they get older, provide other incentives, such as an allowance. If you want to teach them responsibility with money – teaching them that their work earns a reward is a good way to do this.
When your child is old enough to learn how to handle money, use the allowance as an incentive and use the process to teach them to save money. Take your child to the bank and let them establish a bank account in which they can put their hard-earned allowance. Most schools don’t teach the basic things a child needs to survive. Schools will teach reading, writing and math, but schools don’t teach a child how to clean and manage a budget. If you start with your children while they are young, by the time they reach college, they’ll be prepared to step out into the world on their own two feet.
Visit these sites where you can learn to teach children good habits with food, cleaning, money, social skills and more:
- Use Air Pollution to Teach Children About Cleanliness
- Berkeley’s Parent Networks – Teaching Children To Pick Up After Themselves
- Activity Sheets from the Pasteur Institute – Teaching Children Hygiene at Home
- Personal Hygiene for Kids
- Getting Kids to Clean Their Rooms