Encouraging your children to clean can be tricky but it can also play a key role in their development. It’s a stepping stone in building up a sense responsibility and pride in their personal space and environment and, while it may be easier just to do it all yourself – that’s just a short term solution. Yes, it will be tricky to garner a flicker of interest from your kids when you first pass them soap and a sponge BUT, here's how to get your kids cleaning before Christmas with 5 simple steps.
1. Phrase it
Choose your words carefully. When approaching the subject for the first time, don’t simply say “clean up” or “tidy your room.” Those are vague statements that could cover any number of tasks and the last thing you want to do is to overwhelm your child, because that’s when fear of the task begins to set in. Instead try saying “please place your toys back in the toy box” or “stack your books away and then make your bed.” By breaking down the big task into little tasks, it seems manageable and easy to achieve – ideal for little minds!
2. Explain it
Make sure to explain the reasoning behind why cleaning is important. Children need to be able to connect the dots of what needs to be done and why because then it becomes more than simply removing the fun. Try saying things like “we put our toys away so that we don’t trip over and hurt ourselves” or “we need to pack the puzzle away so that none of the pieces go missing.” Once a child identifies a clear reason that they can relate to, there won’t be much of an argument as to why they need to pack away their toys.
3. Create it
Provide tools that will make the process clear and easy – like a few Perspex boxes (each for a different item) or colour-coded trays. You could even discuss the containers with your child first: what would they like to see in their room and how would they like to organise their toys? This not only involves the child but allows them the opportunity to have some control over how order fits with their own wants and needs. Plus, when everything has its own designated place to ‘live’ it becomes much easier to put it all away at the end of the day!
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4. Perfect it
Try different tactics to make the process as fun as possible, like blasting music your child loves to sing along to whilst either of you tidies up. You could even make up your own cleaning song that is personal and fun for you both! Music will not only make every job go faster, but it will also brighten everyone’s mood – productive joy at its best! Or perhaps make a game out of the boring stuff, like picking up clothes and sorting out laundry: set a timer and encourage your child to ‘beat the clock’ or make it a competition to see who can complete their chores first. Ultimately, to perfect it is to make it as fun and enjoyable as possible – but also to make it routine. The more your kids do something the more it becomes habitual and the less time you have to spend convincing them to give it a go.
5. Praise it
Lastly, always remember to praise your child once they have completed their chore. Don’t ‘fix’ or try to correct what they’ve done as this could instill doubt or a lack of confidence in completing their chores further on down the line. The effort and understanding is what is important here, not the end result. You could even keep a reward chart somewhere prominent and place a sticker on it for each achievement – whatever works best for you and your family.
Build your own kids cleaning kit!
Why not create a cleaning kit for the kids that can fit neatly next to yours in the cupboard? Fill a small bucket with little products, easy for them to use and ideal for them to learn from. Think – a packet of perfume-free baby wipes, a spray bottle filled with water and a variety of fun sponges, maybe even a colourful feather duster or mini lint roller! Place it in a safe space where they can access it with confidence and ease. This will not only encourage independence but will give them something to be proud of; their own special kit with their own special tools! Whoever said cleaning couldn’t be fun?!
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