Cleaning can be a tedious task for all ages, and most will try to put it off for as long as possible. Although cleaning may not be considered “fun”, making it a healthy habit has proven to show positive mental health outcomes as children develop.
How to Start
Asking a child to suddenly stop what they’re doing to perform a chore may not go over well. While you want them to be obedient, you also don’t want them to throw a tantrum. This will take about as much time to pacify as it would to finish cleaning the room, so be patient and ease them into it. A great way to start is to make it fun: children often respond better to time cues, so challenge them to clean up in 10 minutes. For younger children, show them how it’s done. Younger kids learn through modeling, so without doing the chore for them completely, show them what to do and they will likely want to join in a collaborative task.
Assign your child specific tasks depending on their age. Be realistic and try to not ask a toddler to clean a large mess. This can become overwhelming, but assigning a small task can help improve mindfulness and will be much more manageable. For all ages, provide detailed instructions for children to follow so they are aware of your expectations. You want the task to be completed but you’ll also want this habit to stick, so having a common clean-up routine will help them repeat good behavior. Making a checklist can help guide them visually, and will make them feel rewarded after each task is checked off.
You want your child to feel rewarded after completing a chore without having to bribe them. Create fun ways to praise their good behavior like putting stickers on chore charts, allowing them to choose an activity, or a simple high-five. Offering incentives can work great in teaching kids that their hard work can pay off, and can even make it fun. Children enjoy feeling proud of themselves and making you proud of them, so make sure they feel the love for a job well done.
Cleaning can be difficult to make enjoyable for anyone, especially children. It is important to explain that it is a necessary part of life to clean in order to promote an understanding of responsibility. Making these requirements will improve communication between parents and children and will condition them for the future.
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