Making kids clean may seem like the hardest job, ever topped only by birth and breastfeeding. It all comes down to your child’s character, your own persistence and lots of patience. It gets easier with time, but teaching children this useful habit is not a process that will happen overnight. It takes years of encouragement and loads of persistence.
Remember this simple rule: If you do one thing every day for at least 28 days, it will become a habit. This is valid only for you, though, not for your kids. It might take longer for cleaning to become a habit for them. But since it?s a pivotal skill, you need to spend a little time every day to try and teach them. Kids as young as 2-3 years old can be conditioned to perform simple tasks. Conditioned sounds harsh, but sometimes we need to be cruel to be kind.
Be firm about the rules
Every time your child is starting to play with new toys, just try to tell them something of the sorts of ?Before we play with the blocks, let’s put the board game away, okay??. Gently remind them that it?s not fine to abandon their toys around the room all the time, and that once they?re done playing with one, they need to put it away in the designated area. Sooner or later it will become aroutine for them, and you will be thankful for it, especially if your kid is a fan of legos.
Be patient, but insist on the rules
If they do something wrong in while trying to clean, don’t get mad ? this will diminish their enthusiasm and they will quit trying in the future, because they will be too afraid of failure. If they spill something, just give them some towels and teach them how to soak it up and clean the area. Children learn from all experiences, both good and bad, but if they notice your negativity, they will pull away and refuse to do the things you ask them for. You have to show them that everyone makes mistakes, and it?s never too late to try and fix everything.
Make cleaning fun
Your kids are not in jail or a military camp, so if you want them to get excited about cleaning, make it fun for them. Come up with various activity games. For instance, you can set up a timer on your phone and make a rule. For instance, if all toys are put back to their place in 2 minutes? he/she has won ?the game?. If you have more than one child, you can be sure that the competitive parts of their personalities will kick in immediately, and everyone will try to win. You can also pretend that folding laundry is a fabulous fashion show, vacuuming the floor is a battle to save the house from the evil germs, and a lot more. They will feel a sense of accomplishment when they see they have successfully done something they observed you doing. It all comes to how you present cleaning ? your imagination is the limit.
You are not there to boss them around
You need to help and navigate them. Lead them through the process of cleaning while explaining what you are doing and why. It?s more of a cooperation than you telling them exactly what to do. Not only there are ways to make kids clean their messes, but there are ways to make them like doing their chores. You just have to act with gentle encouragement, not criticism.
Be an example
Every adult living in the household should engage in cleaning and you should definitely never argue who should do it between yourselves. Your children observe all of your actions, and your actions need to make them believe that cleaning is good and if mum and dad do it, it must be a cool thing to do. After observing you, your kid will become curious: ?How you do it?? and ?Why?? will be common questions. Once you get their attention, don’t let it slip away. As you probably already know, a child?s attention span is not very big ? so be quick to keep it.
Explain how you do things
How do you make the sock balls so perfect and why. Why do we wipe the dust from the TV every week, why bacteria are bad and how dishes are washed. Once you explain it in an interesting and engaging manner, your child will want to try cleaning too? allow them, even if it is a plain waste of time and it?s seriously messing with your routine. If you are too critical of their efforts, they may never come around for another cleaning lesson.
Never make them clean as a punishment
It?s such an obvious mistake that I don’t even want to get into it. Instead with punishment, you should always associate cleaning with fun things ? games, rewards, treats. Use it as a family bonding time, look at it as a moment in which you lay foundations and set up a good example. Remember you teach them responsibility and accountability, while teaching them how to clean after themselves.
Jane Wilson is a mum, a blogger and the marketing manager for Fantastic Cleaners in Melbourne. Her passions include home improvement, DIY, gardening, and a lot more. She also owns a small blog called Modern Housewives.