Kids are excellent at making messes. They’re less excellent at tidying up. Which is why it can be a pain in the rear to teach kids cleaning skills. While it may not come as naturally to them, teaching kids to clean pays off; for you and whatever communities they become a part of. Basic housekeeping skills may seem unrelated to much else, but learning how to contribute in the home teaches kids teamwork, compromise and hygiene.
Try explaining that to your little one(s) and you’ll probably be met with a blank stare. But, there’s no reason parents can’t introduce housecleaning incrementally, starting when kids are still small.
Welcome to the Jungle (that’s my room)
Like every job, it helps to start with a training period. This is where you teach kids cleaning in bits and pieces. Often, it helps to break a “job” into smaller tasks. For instance, around the age of three children are capable of sorting. Distinguishing different kinds of objects is an important skill for early learners to develop, and you can kill two birds with one stone when you make a game of sorting laundry.
Say your kid is a Tasmanian devil in their room. Depending on the age of your child, asking them to clean their entire room (as well as vacuum and dust) could be too much. Getting there takes baby steps, no pun intended. In the beginning, it might be as simple as getting kids to put their toys in the right spaces and celebrating each small success with a cheer. Hooray! You found the doll box! Add in more tasks as they become more capable, either through practice or maturation.
This bit-by-bit approach works for two reasons. First, kiddos aren’t overwhelmed by what’s being asked of them. Second, it’s an opportunity to connect with you, the caretaker. Kids—especially young kids—crave the attention of the loved figures in their lives. When you teach kids cleaning, it can be uninspiring for both parties, but sharing tasks in fun and creative ways can make even the most mundane tasks enjoyable.
Be the Clean You Wish to See in the World
It’s well-known that kids adapt the behaviors of their parents. No matter what they’re told, kids learn from how parents interact with the world. You can preach the cleaning gospel, but the only way to teach kids cleaning is to model cleaning. “Do as I say, not as I do” was never an effective parenting method. For that reason, perhaps the most effective way of imparting cleaning skills to your child is by demonstrating them. Having a cheerful attitude while doing chores sets the tone and the expectation. Couple this with a little incentive and dishes practically start cleaning themselves (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point).
Game of Chores
Incentive comes in many forms, but reward-based methods are best for motivating kids (and human beings in general). Star charts are a time-proven method with little ones. Create a chart for kids that lists cleaning duties. When a task is fulfilled, a star sticker is placed on the chart. Reward kids with something fun after they’ve accumulated a certain number of stars. A sleepover. A trip to the movies. A treat from the ice cream truck. Asking what they’d like ahead of time and agreeing on a reward adds even more motivation.
Kids are a lot more likely to join in an activity they perceive as fun. The star chart can be fun, but it also helps to have something more immediate in the mix. For instance, your little ones might be much more interested in finishing their chores if it also means listening to their favorite music and singing along. Another classic and effective method is the racing game. You know the one: “Who can pick up the most toys in three minutes? Ready, set, go!” Kids themselves are bursting with imagination, so they may come up with their own cleaning games. Whenever you can, make the process fun.
Control is almost as powerful as fun—and not just for the little leaders. Everyone enjoys autonomy. Presenting people with choices creates intrinsic motivation, the kind of motivation that comes from within and is especially important when it comes to meeting goals. It’s the same for children. Obviously your five-year old shouldn’t be grilling dinner or re-tiling the roof, but motivating kids through self-choice means chores are far more likely to get done.
This is especially effective in multi-children homes. Having a family sit down and discuss tasks not only creates accountability, but kids practice compromise and reason as they try to divide tasks fairly.
When it’s too Hot to Handle…
Having a household full of people who contribute to cleaning certainly cuts down on maintenance and improves general cleanliness. However, sometimes you’ll just need to call in the professionals. Zerorez offers eco-friendy, allergy-friendly and residue-free cleaning services for all your household surfaces. From pet-stain removal and carpet cleaning to tile cleaning and grout sealing, we’ve got you covered. Learn more at zerorezie.com, give us a call at 909-206-5374 or visit us at 16185 Magnolia Avenue in Riverside.