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How To Motivate Kids To Clean Up

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By their very nature, kids don’t like to sit still, so getting them to focus on important chores can sometimes feel like a burden.

Growing up, everyone needs to learn the importance of cleaning up.

So how can parents help encourage and motivate their children to do their part and be proactive in cleaning?

With a few simple steps, it’s quite simple and easy to do!

Here are a few easy but effective ways to motivate kids to clean up!

Simple Rewards

Sometimes stating a reward can go a long way.

If a child wants to do something, it’s worth dropping the classic “not until you’ve cleaned your room” response.

This works as a quick and easy motivation tool, rewarding a child after a task.

Of course, over time, this also demonstrates another more complex idea; that cleaning is an obstacle on the way to better things.

This is especially useful for younger children, helping to give them purpose when they can’t understand the larger concepts.

Invite and Compliment

While rewards work most of the time, there’s nothing wrong with inviting children to participate.

This way, cleaning can be seen as a group activity (and not just another terrible chore set by mum and dad).

As part of this process, little ones should be thanked and complimented when participating.

This is true for all of us – people of any age feel better when they’re recognized for doing a great job.

Introduce Negative Consequences

Some parents might be against negative results or punishments, but doing so in balance with positive rewards helps enforce the results.

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Let’s say a child is asked to clean up their toys.

If there is a reward for doing so, they will see this as an option that’s open to them.

However, if there’s also a consequence – “clean up your toys, or you can’t play with them later,” for instance – there’s extra motivation.

This way, children will start to see cleaning as something that needs to be done, not just when they want something.

Create and Maintain Routine

A big part of cleaning is doing it regularly.

After all, it’s easier to clean up a little at a time than wait for things to get out of hand, right?

Children rarely understand this concept – especially at a young age – so it’s up to mum and dad to implement something.

Keep a chart of cleaning routine duties, ticking them off when done.

Not only does this show what child has which responsibilities, but it can also chart ongoing progress to ensure they are still completed!

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Challenge and Inspire

Kids can get bored very easily, especially with housework!

If parents want to continually motivate their children, they should try challenging them.

As they become adept at simple tasks, they introduce more complex ones.

Let them learn how to sweep the floor, then use the hoover and then clean the table.

This keeps their brains active and engaged.

Similarly, what’s wrong with a little creativity or inspiration?

Rather than simply showing a child how something is done, if they know the result, they can figure it out for themselves (with a little help, of course).

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This helps get their brain involved, ensuring their attention is right where it needs to be.

Show How It Benefits The Family

When faced with a task, many younger individuals only focus on the work they must do rather than the benefits it brings the entire household.

For children, this means helping them understand the benefits.

If they understand, for instance, that cleaning the kitchen means food gets served faster, or everyone cleaning one room means they can save time and go to the cinema, it helps to reward kids through family bonding.

Of course, if it means parents get to put their feet up too, nobody should be complaining!

One of the major benefits here is that it starts showing interconnectivity, and children might see the advantages of working together rather than focusing on just their assignments.

Be Patient

As adults, parents have different perspectives on children.

Sweeping the floor might be simple from an older point of view, but for someone still learning, it’s an abstract, alien concept – they shouldn’t be expected to get it right on the first try!

A calm and wise parent will be aware of this, encouraging them to try even when the results aren’t perfect.

This often means redoing the task (at least at first) or touching up a missed area when the little ones aren’t looking.

Keep them happy, and children will get into their stride.

Comment on their abilities, however, and they simply grumble their way through every task you give them.

Parents Need To Do Their Part Too

Finally, as stated earlier, one of the more effective ways to motivate children is to show how it benefits the wider family or household.

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Yet part of this also means parents need to get involved as well – and be prepared for some quick-fire answers if they don’t.

What would be the point of motivating kids to keep their room clean if their parents simply leave things lying around?

“Why do my toys need a home if yours don’t?” is an all too often-heard question in these situations.

Avoiding this is easy – lead from the front and set the example!

Many of these will be more useful depending on any child’s age, focus, and personality, but these all represent quick and effective ways to encourage motivation.

Children can pick things up very easily when they’re not distracted, and reward systems, progress charts, punishments, and more all do their part to help get them in the right frame of mind.

In a short while, they’ll be cleaning up without being told to do so!

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  1. Kostas Chiotis

    May 14, 2018 at 8:23 AM

    Jessi, you’ve got some great tips here. Just a little thought, if a kid really feels a sense of belonging to space they will enjoy doing things with it. So get them involved in designing, picking furniture, artwork so they know that it is all theirs

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