A child’s bedroom is a place for privacy and self-expression. You’re likely not keen about your children expressing themselves with bedroom floors covered in miniature racecars or clothes every night. What’s a parent to do? Set your kids up for success early. Teach your children to clean their rooms and adopt cleaning habits early so that they understand the value of maintaining their personal space.
Keep it simple
Young children ages 3 to 5 don’t fully grasp the concept behind “clean your room.” To keep it simple for young children, follow two-step requests. For example, “OK, we all need to pick up the toys and put them in this box.” Make the chore, well, less of a chore by introducing some elements of fun. Stream your child’s favorite music and make it an adventure. Play hungry alligator with the toy box and work with your child to get the toys into the box.
Make storage containers accessible
Keep storage containers in an easily accessible location. When your child can see toy bins, he or she will easily be able to locate them later. Label every storage bin with a word or a picture of the contents so that your child knows exactly where the blocks and dolls need to go.
Give elementary-school kids more age-appropriate tasks
Folding clothes and making the bed are two chores you can easily teach to your child.
Motivate your children by capitalizing on their interests
Children love to collect toys such as LEGOs, dolls and action figures, and they can be rather protective of their collections. Use your children’s interests in their collections as motivation. “If you want to set up your speedway, you need to put away the books on your table first.”
Prepare to purge
Purging is a good habit for adults and children, but it’s an especially important habit to cultivate for children ages 11 years and older. At this stage, children are moving out of childhood and are on the cusp of their teen years. Now is the time to reassess what your child owns and determine what’s worth keeping and what’s worth purging. Place nonessential items into a holding box to store in an attic or basement.
Maintain independence but work with the behavior
As your child moves into the teenage years, you’ll want to give him or her some independence but work with your teen’s behavior. For example, your son may be compelled to hang up his clothes, but he doesn’t like using the closet. Purchase a coat rack or hooks for his room. Teens who might feel overwhelmed with school and activities may balk at the idea of cleaning their rooms. To alleviate their stress, encourage them to break the task into doable units and accomplish the individual chores one at a time. Keep the expectations reasonable and encourage your child to express concerns or share questions.
If you’ve tried the techniques above and still aren’t happy with the state of your child’s room, you can always keep the door closed.