Tips for teaching kids to clean up after themselves

Bree here, from Home Zone Furniture.

With the kids home all summer, odds are you’ve butted heads a few times. While some situations require a firm parental hand, others are open to compromise. One “compromise” at our house is having the kids pick up after themselves.

Regardless of age, gender, disposition or birth order, kids avoid cleaning up at all costs. But instead of constantly nagging them to pick up their toys and do their chores try these tips to get them to take the initiative—without all the begging.

You’re the boss. Remember that you hold the reins in this situation. The first thing to do is to examine your own behavior. You’re the role model for your kids. Explain to them what you are and are not willing to do. Yes, you might cook dinner and take charge of the laundry, but it’s up to them to pick up their rooms and feed the dog. Tell the kids what the rules are in advance so they aren’t unjustly punished when they don’t complete their chores on time.

Make a visual. While the duties of each family member might be understood, it’s easier when you have a visual of what’s expected of everyone. Cue the chore chart. Hang the chart in a high-traffic location in your house and check off every duty that’s completed each day. At the end of the week or month you can reward your child with allowance money, a treat or even an afternoon out with you.

Keep it easy. Kids are more likely to pick up after themselves if it’s fun and easy. If the mess arises after they play with toys, set them up with a set of colorful, easy-to-reach bins so they can put everything away themselves. If you have several kids, you can turn it into a competition: Let’s see who can pick up their room the fastest! Going hand and hand with this idea is a “clean before you play” rule. Tell your kids they need to pick up what they were playing with before they move on to a new activity.

Be logical. The final component in teaching your kids to clean up after themselves is to give them logical consequences. While you might be frustrated after begging and begging to no avail, don’t jump to an illogical punishment, as this will only serve to make the kids resent you and their chores. For instance, toys left on the floor shouldn’t result in grounding. Instead, toys left on the floor should be confiscated for a reasonable amount of time. Remember to be consistent and unemotional with the consequences.

Here’s to a clean house!


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