Have you ever found a toy or anything belonging to your kids in the most surprising place or at the most unexpected time? Perhaps in your briefcase during a conference or in your handbag during a lunch out with your friends? You may deem it funny sometimes, but what if these misplaced toys can cause actual physical harm? According to a survey, about 71% of parents have sustained an injury because of accidentally stepping on stray toys.
Children can be taught the value of responsibility from a very early age. As a parent, you may think that the task of instilling the right values is too onerous or that perhaps it’s too early for you and your child. However, when it comes to molding children’s behavior, nothing could be farther from the truth. Tidying up after a child who’s capable of doing it themselves creates more work for you and also sends the message that they can’t clean up their own mess, hence they shouldn’t bother.
While you may want to do almost every chore for your children, especially to ensure it’s done right, it is imperative to start training them in the basics at an early age. For instance, picking up their toys after use or even cleaning themselves up after playing or eating helps build a sense of mastery, self-reliance, and responsibility.
How do you really make your kids clean up after themselves with all the distractions around them? How do you even get them to do as you ask?
How to teach kids to clean up
Cleanliness will always be a priority for you as a parent. Untidiness not only compromises your family’s physical health, but it also appears to affect your mental well-being, according to several studies.
So, cleanliness should be encouraged no matter what age your child is. The approaches differ from one age group to another.
How do I get my toddler to clean up?
Teaching your toddler how to clean up after themselves can be quite a challenge, but it’s an important part of their development. Of course, your little one needs you as a model when you want to teach them something.
So, always set a good example when teaching an infant or a toddler some cleaning-up routines as this will encourage helpful behavior early.
When teaching a toddler, remember to:
- Guide them through the process by showing them how to do things, such as putting away a toy in a bin.
- Allow them to be in control during the clean-up after playtime. Let them choose what toys to pick up first and make sure that the task is not difficult.
- Incorporate some cleanup song or dance so the task can be both a learning and an enjoyable experience.
How do I get my preschooler to clean up after themselves?
When it comes to your preschooler, teaching them how to clean will give them a sense of responsibility. Your preschooler may find cleaning a boring task because their focus might be divided due to external factors such as playmates, gadgets, or even yourself.
For preschoolers, cleaning up shouldn’t be a dreaded task; instead, it should feel like an awesome activity to do.
- Choose the right words and explain why cleaning is important.
- As much as you want to give a helping hand, don’t do the cleaning task for your preschooler or redo it if they don’t do it as they should. Their effort is more important than perfection.
- Keep it child-friendly. Cleaning shouldn’t be boring, so some music and a bit of dancing can lighten the mood. You can also make cleaning lots of fun by doing it through a game such as “beat the time,” where you can ask your child to clean as fast as they could and beat their own time from the previous days. You can also play a game where you ask your child to pick toys according to their color or size.
What are the ways to teach your school-aged kids to clean up?
When you have school-aged kids, their cleaning routines may get busier. You can start by teaching your child common household chores such as simple cooking, washing the dishes, and cleaning areas of the house.
Kids at this age can be easily taught. It’s still important to teach them in a kind and cheerful manner.
- Don’t worry about the “spilled milk.” Instead of being angry over tasks that are either not done or half-done, go easy on your child, especially if he is still learning how to do a new task. Once he gets a grip on it, it will be much easier to do it himself.
- Encourage him to do tasks independently even if you feel that it will be much easier for you to do it yourself. Instead of barking orders, calmly ask or remind your child about the routines you have established as a family.
- Be a model of responsibility and cleanliness. Don’t make excuses and try to follow through with your family’s routine as much as possible. Your child looks up to you and how you do things, so make sure to set a good example.
How to get a teenager to clean up after themselves?
Besides your teenager’s hormone-induced rapid mood swings, you and your child might have conflicts involving relationships, low grades, and, yes, even cleaning. Truly, teenagers can be quite a handful.
When it comes to cleaning, how should you really deal with a teen?
- Do not expect too much. Remember, your teenager has a lot going on in his life. It might be easy for you to follow your cleaning routines, but for your teenager, it can be a little overwhelming.
- Reset family rules. Your teenager is no longer a child (but not yet an adult), so you might need to review your structures as a family. For instance, constant reminders (or nagging?) can work well with your school-aged kids, but this might not be the case during this stage in your child’s life.
- Bond while doing chores. Your teen might spend most of his time out of the house. So, when he is home and busy with all the chores, use this moment as an opportunity to spend time together and talk about anything under the sun.
Your child, your rules?
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to parenting, and that includes teaching your child about the value of cleanliness and responsibility.
Even though some parents choose a strict structure, we should never use cleaning as punishment. Through positive discipline, you connect with your child better.
Whether you are into rewards and reinforcements, or you set the structure that needs to be followed by hook or by crook, one thing is certain: you’re doing your very best to raise a responsible child.
Whether you have a toddler, a young child, or a teenager, cleanliness is an important trait for them to have and for you to teach them. Through this, they also learn the value of responsibility and self-reliance. It’s like hitting 3 birds with 1 stone when it comes to shaping your child’s character, don’t you agree?
How do you train your child to clean after themselves? Do you give rewards, or do you set the rules? Please share your thoughts in the comments below and help other parents learn a trick or two.