Painlessly Teaching Kids to Clean Up

Today, we have a treat – a guest blogger, who is only 17 years old!  I think you’ll enjoy what Alex has to say.  

Is it really possible to get kids to put away their own toys? Do children understand how to clean up after arts and crafts, and put everything away CORRECTLY? Will my children ever desire to help mom/dad clean up after the mess they’ve made?
If you answered No, to any or all of these questions, it’s time for a cleanup intervention!!

Rule #1: KIDS LEARN HOW TO BE ORGANIZED BY DOING.

This is not a trap. Kids want to help be a part of the organizing process. They want to tell you where they want their things to go, along with helping to pick out the kind of containers they think would be the most useful to them. (Helpful hint: Keep things in a child’s reach. It’s not easy to clean up when everything is taller than you.) 

Example: When I was little, my mom gave us our own cabinet in our kitchen that was a lower cabinet. It was called “The Kid’s Cabinet.” Not only were things easy for my siblings and I to reach, but we decided how we wanted everything placed, so everything was stored correctly the first time!!!

 

Rule #2: KIDS REALLY DO SEEK REWARDS

Who doesn’t love a treat after they have done what they’re told? If you’re not into the literal edible treat, then an extra five minutes of TV time, or an added two minutes to stay up is a good option. (Helpful hint: Every child is unique. Their reward should match who they are.)

Example: My sister is the Case-in-Point for a reward seeking personality. If she’s told to do a chore, and gets a reward, such as playing with a friend 10 minutes longer than usual, she is all game. I was an artistic child, so my mom bought “Reward Crayons.” Whenever I helped clean up, or did something really great, she would give me another special crayon (They were sparkly) to add to my art bins.

 

Rule #3: ORGANIZING AND CLEANING ARE NOT PUNISHMENTS

As I’ve been babysitting, I have found that the most resistant children are the children who are forced to do extra chores as punishments. A child’s mind places things together. When the equation of chores equals “I’ve done something wrong,” then a child will assume that whenever they have to clean up it’s because they have done something wrong. (Helpful Hint: Do not threaten your child with chores. They are less likely to complete the work, and resist it. Rather offer help with the chore, and make it something you two get to complete together. Spending time with a parent is much more rewarding than being punished with a chore)

Example: I babysat and nannied for this family for years. They punished their children with chores, and therefore I often struggled to have their kids help me with messes. When I realized they correlated being in trouble with chores, I made cleaning and keeping things organized into a game. “Who can get the dishes in the sink the fastest?” Reward: High five. “Who can clean up all the markers and get the crayons put away the happiest?” Reward: Tickle hugs. Once her children realized they weren’t in trouble, and having a good time, they were a lot less resistant to helping me.

 

I hope this helps you and your little ones, bloggers!! Give Adrian a shout out if you have anything else you know that helps.

All my love,

Alex

Bio:  Alex is an exuberant 17-year-old senior who has a love and passion for kids and family. She is currently working on her Nursing Assistant training, and hopes to one day become a Nursing Midwife. She enjoys painting, blowing bubbles, and singing in the shower. She is certified in CPR, and loves babysitting. If you have any questions on how to get your kids involved, or would like to ask her about her babysitting (how much she charges, how far she can travel, etc.), contact her at: ajgustonrouge@gmail.com.

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