How do you get your kids to help clean? And when is it age appropriate to get them to clean? Most of getting kids to help with the cleaning depends greatly on individual ability, age, and how quickly they mature. But these factors don’t mean that kids shouldn’t help! They should. Helping with chores can add great structure to their daily lives.
It can be intimidating instructing our kids to do things they might not enjoy, but it can be done in a loving, positive way. It doesn’t have to be a struggle, and it can be helpful for everyone involved.
Why You Should Teach Kids the Value of Cleaning (and helping!)
*It Teaches Them Responsibility & a Good Work Ethic: teaching our kids to be responsible and a good work ethic is a part of healthy parenting! And cleaning is a great way to introduce responsibility and a work ethic to our children.
*It Enforces Good Cleaning & Organising Habits from an Early Age: why teach our kids that it’s okay to be messy and unorganised? We don’t intend to, but that’s what they learn if they don’t have to take responsibility for their own messes. Let them clean up after themselves. Have them help organise their spaces.
*It Takes the Pressure Off of You to do Everything: parents shouldn’t have to do everything. Once kids begin to get old enough to be helpful, it’s great to have them lend a hand with helping around the home.
*It Teaches Them to Be Responsible for Themselves (and the messes they personally make): why let kids think it’s normal for them to make a mess that someone else cleans up? Find a positive, loving way to teach kids when they make a mess, they should be the one to clean it up! When they play with toys or get into the arts and crafts, have the expectation that they’ll be the ones to clean up after they’ve finished. They should slowly become responsible for themselves (as is appropriate for their ages): this means two year olds can help you clean up the blocks and paper from painting; five year olds can clean up their rooms on their own; ten year olds can take on cleaning the kids’ bathrooms.
Remember, these are all generalities: this all depends on each child’s ability and maturity (since we all mature differently). These ages aren’t hard and fast rules. You know your kids best, and can adjust to each child accordingly!
Tips to Inspire Kids to Clean
*Don’t Complain About Chores When They Can Hear: if your kids hear you complaining about chores, then why would they want to help you clean? They wouldn’t want to. They’ll see it as a drudgery. While it’s true we might not enjoy cleaning, but if we can put a good face on it, it’ll prevent our kids from seeing cleaning as terrible or miserable. Talk about cleaning in a positive light.
*Adjust Expectations for Completing a Chore According to Each Child’s Ability: a three year old isn’t capable of what a twelve year old is. That doesn’t mean that the three year old can’t help with chores. Be reasonable in what you expect, but have healthy expectations nonetheless. Remember, too, when a child is learning a chore for the first time, practice makes perfect. The first time a two year old cleans up the toys, they might miss a few blocks. Patiently point out what is missed, and eventually they’ll learn to see what you see. It’s a patient, but worthwhile effort!
*Patiently Explain the Why and How: explain to your kids why cleaning and organising is important. Instead of an abstract set of “to-dos”, your kids will see the importance behind cleaning. Be sure to be patient while explaining how to clean. Kids are still learning, and giving them instructions for a new task with patience and love will help insure they aren’t put off when learning to clean.
Teaching kids how and why it’s important to clean isn’t an impossible task. And it might seem like a lot of work up front, but in the long run, it’s hard work that pays off wonderfully in the end. Why teach your kids to clean? It makes cleaning easier for you, and teaches our kids the importance of a job well done.