You buy your kids clothes and toys, and where do they end up? The bedroom floor. It’s a familiar ongoing battle between parents and their children—how to get your kids to clean their own room. More yelling? Not necessary. Find out how to turn this task into a trouble-free routine.
Make it a game. “Rather than ‘getting’ kids to clean their room, which is the parents’ agenda, parents can work with their kids to find out what is important to the kids,” notes Nancy S. Buck, Ph.D., author of “Peaceful Parenting.” What’s important to kids? “Playing and having fun,” Buck says.
Sing your commands. For younger children, getting them to clean up may be as simple as singing. Rather than a stern demand, which may result in push-back from that independence-seeking toddler, make it a light-hearted song. One to try: “Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up. Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere. Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up. Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share.” Make up your own tune and have your kids sing along.
Count toys. For younger children who are learning to count, give them a goal of 10 toys or clothes items to pick up and put away. Give them a reward (special Mommy-time, a favorite TV show or a lollipop, for example) for reaching their goal.
Time the cleanup. “With older children, you can ask them to time themselves,” Buck suggests. “Then see if they can beat their previous time for the next round of cleaning.” Nothing like a little competition. Keep a chart and offer incentive (a movie outing with friends, for example) if your child beats her own time.
Make cleanup easy. A little organization goes a long way to quick cleanups. Simple plastic bins can either be general catchalls that hide any toys away or specifically labeled for type of toy (for example, trains, musical instruments or dress-up clothes). Bins can be labeled with pictures for young kids or the words for older kids, so they know exactly what goes where.
Encourage a continually clean room. After your kid’s room is clean, take a picture of it, print the picture and tape it to the outside of the door.