The Easy Way to get kids to clean their rooms.
By Susie E. Caron © 7/5/15
Getting kids to ‘clean their rooms’ is as much of a struggle for parents as it is difficult for kids. Parents ask, “Why can’t they clean their rooms quickly, or even at all? Kids are likewise puzzled because, quite frankly they don’t fully understand the concept of ‘clean your room.’ What does ‘clean your room’ actually mean to a child? If children don’t understand, even after you’ve shown them one hundred times, then what can parents do to get the job done? I'm here to help.
What you Don't want to do:
1. Don’t give in and do it all yourself. You will only be teaching your kids to be more passive, lazy or resistant because they know, in the end, you’ll get frustrated enough to do it yourself (or that you’ll do it over again after they ‘tried.’)
2. Don’t spend hours attempting the ‘get them to do it’ . Whether you yell, threaten, bargain, and promise losses and gains for your kids. This just does not work for two reasons.
a. Kids figure out fairly easily what your ‘breaking point’ is. If you only ‘draw the line’ and they finally do the job after 1 hour, or after you threaten to take ‘ever getting to go to the movies ever again’ away, or if it takes you 6 hours of frustration and anxiety, they already know.
b.The only thing this duration in time provides is tons of attention, and I mean lots and lots of attention that they are getting for NOT DOING what they were asked to do.
3. Don’t give up. This little task of cleaning their bedroom is preparation for life. It teaches kids to really look at their environment, to categorize, organize, sort, prioritize, and other important life skills. This is important teaching.
Here’s what you DO want to do instead:
1. Tell the kids Saturday morning is ‘clean your room day.’ (Pick any day but stick to it as much as possible.) Post it on the refrigerator and calendar.
2. Tell them they have one hour and their job is to get ‘everything off the floor’ so you can come in and vacuum.(Note: If you prefer, you can just do these first two steps once per week, then add #3-#7 below on a different schedule. For example: monthly, before birthdays, Christmas and other holidays.)
3. Tell each child you want him/her to fill up three boxes, (brown paper bags or totes.) Mark each one this way:
c.Keep in the attic (basement, garage etc.) so they can pull them out to trade sometime for other toys they are not currently playing with. (Example: summer toys vs winter toys)
4. Wake them up, give them a friendly breakfast and tell them they have one hour.
5. They can have TV or play time only AFTER their floors are empty and bags are filled. You don’t care what they put in each one, but they must be filled.
6. Now don’t go back into their rooms for one hour, (unless they are very, very little and you stay to help them learn this picking up, sorting task.) If they are 5-10 years old, just go do something noisy like vacuum somewhere in the house for that hour.
7. When they are done, they must come get you to inspect and then they can take the bags to the destinations indicated on them.
8. Tell them “Thank you.” And give them a pat on the back or a hug.
They may not finish in one hour, but don’t let that bother you. Just hold to, “No TV or playing until this job is done." Check on them only once per hour. This gives you time to do other things. Plus, If you stand your ground, they will figure out, the best thing they could do is clean up fast. Don’t expect perfection, but practicing this little task goes a long way to teaching them to get it done, so they can play.
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Susie E. Caron
Susie E. Caron
These are from my former life with many current memories and helps for parents.
I retired from teaching, became a psychotherapist treating children and families and an author. After retiring I became a full time artist.
I recently reopened this parenting blog because I believe wisdom is to be shared.
Author of Chidren's Books,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, I want to help you build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, & books at a time.
When I'm not busy creating articles or paintings, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or playing with my Boxer, Josie.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
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Blog Reviews & Thank You!
July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!