3 ways to encourage young children to clean

cleaning Apr 13, 2022

One of the most common misconceptions that parents make is the notion that children can’t start cleaning until they’re approaching the tweenage years. But children can be taught to start cleaning as soon as they’re able to walk around and grab things—and instilling early encouragement for cleaning is a great way to ensure that your kids won’t end up balking at the idea of chores when they’re 10. How do you encourage young kids to start cleaning? There are a few tricks you can implement from a young age to get them started.

Create a cleaning routine
Cleaning routines are essential, even if you don’t have kids! Cleaning routines help children understand that cleaning up is a regular, expected part of the day—it’s just as expected as eating meals and washing up before bed. Some great examples are to make a routine of putting away all toys before bed and always taking plates from the table to the kitchen counter right after a meal.

Make a place for everything
Kids love structure, and you can incorporate structure into cleaning by making sure that everything has a place. That way, your child will be able to put things away in a sensible location. Everything—from blocks and dolls to books and stuffed animals should have a designated place it belongs when it is put away, be it a box, a bin, a shelf or a bucket. Don’t limit this to just toys, either: items around the house, like towels, clothing and artwork, should also have a place.

Break cleaning into easy-to-understand steps
If you tell your three year old to “clean your room,” they won’t know what you’re talking about. Heck, a ten year old wouldn't likely know where to start! Kids have a hard time seeing the broader picture when it comes to cleaning up, so break cleaning down into easy-to-understand steps. For instance, instead of saying, “Clean your room,” tell them “Pick up all your dolls and put them away.” When they’re done, move onto the next step: “Now, pick up your pillows and put them neatly on the bed where they belong." You definitely will need to keep an eye on them, so it's not a fully parent-less situation, but just keep in mind that you're setting them up for success later in life.

Remember that cleaning isn’t some innate skill that we’re all born with—your child will learn to clean as long as you set a good example, keep a positive attitude and encourage them to do their best.

(Photo by Aqua Mechanical)

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