No more nagging: Here’s how to get kids cleaning

No more nagging: Here's how to get kids cleaning


HOW DO YOU GET KIDS TO HELP WITH CLEANING UP? Try these 4 tips for more helping and less complaining, nagging, and doing it yourself. Make a positive plan for clean up in your home.

No More Nagging: This is How to Get Kids Cleaning Up

As much fun as it was to yell “CLEAN UP!” into the void and get absolutely no reaction or help from my kids… I decided to do things a little different and actually get them to help.

I know. Shocking concept: kids actually helping to clean up.

It’s not just your kids who do this (or rather, don’t do this) and it isn’t a problem only you are facing: clean up time can be hard for kids, and I have a theory why that is AND ways we can “solve” this fairly universal struggle (don’t worry, I’ll get to all of this).

Looking for more structure each day?

Check out Playing Preschool: Busy Toddler’s 190-day at-home activities program

Saying “clean up” to kids is super abstract

Kids deal with the here and now. They live a black and white life. What they can see and feel is what they understand best.

Think of it as living in a very concrete world.

“Cleaning up” (on the flip side) is a very abstract concept – literally the opposite of concrete. You cannot feel “clean up,” you cannot hold “clean up.”

We need to make cleaning black and white.

We need to make cleaning something kids and touch and feel.

Text: Kids won't help clean up?
Instead of getting frustrated, giving up, and doing it yourself.
Try this: Make clean up concrete so kids know exactly how to help.

Why don’t kids help with cleaning up?

Within this idea of concrete versus abstract, there are reasons why kids are hesitant or unlikely to help with cleaning up:

  • They don’t know how much to clean (clean up a block? the room? the entire house?)
  • They get overwhelmed by the mess (just like adults are!)
  • They don’t know where to start (because it’s abstract) and lose interest
  • They can’t understand what “clean” means to the adult (it’s subjective after all) so the child’s definition of clean may differ from the adults

There are lots of reasons why kids don’t help, aren’t able to help, or seem unwilling to help.

And most of these problems can be solved by (say it with me) making the clean up process CONCRETE.

How do we make cleaning a “concrete” concept?

I have FOUR tried and true, absolutely fantastic ways to make cleaning a concrete activity for kids and help them be successful with cleaning (and help you be successful without nagging, yelling, or just doing it yourself – been there, done that).

I used these as a classroom teacher. I use them now as a parent.

Let’s break this down so you can try these tricks in your house today.

Text: Pick a clean-up number. "Everyone pick up 17 things."

How to use this:

Once kids are in a “counting stage” of development (that’ll be a different age for each child), try giving them a specific number to clean up. This makes cleaning CONCRETE and exact.

In my house, if we all pick up 17 things x 5 people = 85 things. That makes a big dent!

Why this works:

Cleaning is no longer ambiguous: it’s specific and exact. They know what’s being asked of them and what their role is in the cleaning process.

Give kids a specific job. "Your job is to put away trains."

How to use this:

If you have lots of toy sets or collections out, try giving each child a specific toy to focus on. This cuts down on clean up related fights, too (“I’m cleaning blocks!” “No, I am!”). Let kids know when they finish their job, to check with you for their next task.

Why this works:

Having one specific job to work on is so much less overwhelming. Think of how it feels to walk into that post-dinner dinner kitchen. As adults, we know what to do: work on one thing at a time. Kids don’t know to do this until we teach them. Using this strategy helps kids learn to bite off smaller chunks of a task, one at a time.

Text: Have kids clean one color at a time. "You are picking up green toys."

How to use this:

Kids not counting yet? No worries! Try the color method for clean up – it also makes cleaning more of a game and a treasure hunt. When kids focus on a single color, it channels their energy into a cleaning activity.

Why this works:

Again, looking at a giant messy room is overwhelming. It’s overwhelming for adults – imagine how kids feel! Breaking it down by color is manageable.

TEXT: Do a dance party clean-up 
"How much can we clean in one song"

How to use this:

Turn on a banging jam that your kids love and tell them “this is a ONE SONG dance party/clean up.” The race is on: “how much can we clean while the song is playing?”

Why this works:

This trick works on two levels: 1. It makes cleaning a race. How much can we do before the song ends? Kids LOVE races. 2. It puts a time limit on cleaning. We will not be cleaning all day. This is a quick blitz in an amount of time kids can understand easily.

RELATED: Did you know time is also an abstract concept for kids? Solve a lot of power struggles with this tip!

Kids cleaning up doesn’t need to be a disaster

Here’s my final plug:

Remember that cleaning is not fun, no one enjoys this (except maybe the gals on the Home Edit), and it’s overwhelming… and that’s how it feels to adults.

Make cleaning concrete. The ambiguous, abstract, sweeping statements of “just clean up” can be tossed out: be specific. Give tasks. Make time limits. Set kids (and you) up for success by turning cleaning into something manageable.

Susie Allison, B.A. Elementary Education

Author and Owner

Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 1.6 million followers on Instagram. A former teacher and early childhood education advocate, Susie’s parenting book “Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting” is available on Amazon.

HOW DO YOU GET KIDS TO HELP WITH CLEANING UP? Try these 4 tips for more helping and less complaining, nagging, and doing it yourself. Make a positive plan for clean up in your home.


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *