Teaching children how to keep their living quarters clean is a valuable, important, core life skill. But it takes effort and stress on the part of the parent to stay on top of disciplining and training the child to clean his/her room.
Here are some tips on how to motivate your children to clean their rooms.
Attach the Chore to a Reward
The reward for cleaning the bedroom does not have to be a food treat, like ice cream. The reward can be simple: for example, going over to a friend’s house, watching t.v. or playing outside.
Even as adults, cleaning the house is a chore. It’s rewarding in and of itself once the house is clean, but looking forward to a treat after cleaning is a great self-motivator. This is a skill (the chore and the self-rewarding for its successful completion) that children can take with them when they are out on their own.
If cleaning the room is attached to a reward, the need for nagging to clean his/her room is reduced.
Here are some more examples of rewards for cleaning up their room:
- help re-arrange the room furniture
- food treat
- buy a room decoration (e.g. poster, mirror, wallpaper border)
- new bedding
Do Not Reward for Half-Finished Jobs or Mediocrity
It’s important that the kids learn that “a job worth doing is a job worth doing well.” Straightening up by shoving dirty towels and clothes under the bed is not straightening up at all, is it? Moving dirty dishes from one part of the house (the bedroom) to another (kitchen counter) is not really dealing with the dirty dishes, is it?
Make the Successful Completion of the Chore Magical
When finished, bring the child into the room and create a ritual or a strong emotional positive response to the clean room and to the child’s good behavior. This makes the recognition of a job well done more formal and important.
Your child will know that you noticed the job well done.
Here are some examples of making cleaning the bedroom magical. Do any of these suggestions together with the child:
- Dance around the clean room (now that you can see the floor) with the child and a stereo playing fun, current pop music.
- Light a candle and say a prayer of protection for the room and for the child.
- Create a name for a “Clean Room Angel” and pretend that the angel can only come calling when the room is squeaky clean. Call or invite/invoke the Clean Room Angel to come and bless the room once it is clean.
Yes, it’s a chore for parents to teach the kids how to clean their rooms, and to keep on top of it through discipline. But the reward is one of teaching an important life skill that will carry them to cleaning their entire apartment or house.
Making it magical, attaching a reward to the chore, and not settling for mediocrity are three ways to deal with the discipline of cleaning up the kids’ rooms.