How To Get Your Kids to Clean Their Room
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A few months ago, I remember entering my nephew’s room and nearly having a heart attack. They’d only just arrived for the holidays a day before, and I was still not quite firm in setting the rules for how the rest of the holiday would proceed.
As I stood at the entrance of the door and surveyed the chaos that had once been a habitable abode, I couldn’t decide if it was a bomb that went off in there, or if the damage had been done by a hurricane that swept through and mercifully left the rest of the house untouched.
There were clothes, toys, and books scattered everywhere and the boys were still busy in the heat of it bouncing on the bed and gleefully throwing whatever they could lay their hands on at each other.
My scream of frustration penetrated their “fun” and thankfully they had the presence of mind to look guilty as they surveyed the damage they’d done.
This was a room I’d spent a full day putting in order as I excitedly prepared for their return for the holidays.
We all stood staring at each other before they both muttered a contrite “I’m sorry, Aunt Nat.”
That wasn’t going to cut it though. Before then, I’d have huffed and puffed, then went on to clean the room. However, as I stared at them, I realized they were no longer babies at 13 and 10 years of age and should be made to understand the concept of actions and consequences.
In this case, they were to be made to clean up the room and I spent the next one hour ensuring they did so. I also made sure they got some other age-appropriate consequence to deter a future occurrence.
Subsequently, I also had to come up with a few ideas to get them to clean up the room after them. They were used to me cleaning up for them and I decided it was time for a change.
How I Finally Got The Kids to Make a Habit of Cleaning Their Room
1) I Set The Pace
Kids learn better from watching adults do things. I knew if I wanted these kids to develop a self-sufficient habit and take care of the room and a few other chores themselves I had to set a good example.
So, here what I did. I made sure to tidy my room first thing in the morning when I got up. I would do this, then leave the door ajar so they could notice this every time they passed by my room.
With my room being well-arranged, it was easy for me to elucidate on the virtue of cleanliness and a tidy environment and to insist they took care of their immediate environment. Henceforth, they were to keep their room clean; put everything in its place at the right time. Also, since there was already a playroom, part of being tidy included not turning the bed into a bouncing castle
2) Help Them Get Started
Surprisingly, the boys didn’t balk at this change. I’d expected protest, but got met with none. The one area I’d expected a slackening in and didn’t get disappointed in was in their consistency.
Of course, since this was all new I knew I had to help them get started. So we did the tidying up together.
I helped put one side of the room together while Abel took another and Favour the last. We rotated sides all through the week until we had each touched a side at least twice. Then I started withdrawing to let them handle it themselves.
3) Make It a Part of Their Daily Routine
After they’d been around over a week, I knew it was time to get serious with the rules for the holiday (actually, I usually got serious days into their visit, but let things relax a bit longer this time around).
One of the rules was that cleaning of the room was to become a daily chore and would be done twice daily.
Also, so there would be no confusion, Abel was to tidy up in the mornings and Favour during the day.
This was one chore I wasn’t going to joke with and I made them realize this.
4) Don’t Clean Up After Them
There were days the kids shirked on their responsibility. Once, they needed to attend a birthday party a few blocks away and left with my regular babysitter before I got back home.
The room was quite untidy when I got back, but I made sure not to clean it up, much as I wanted to. I waited for them to return and though they protested at being tired, they still had to clean up.
I knew I had to stick with the rule as kids develop better when there are regular rules that don’t change or bend with the circumstance.
Cleaning up after them would be painting a picture they can avoid their responsibility whenever they don’t feel up to it and this I was trying to avoid.
5) Set Up Effective Consequences
We also decided on effective consequences for shirking their responsibilities.
If skimping on their duties occurred due to no fault of theirs, then all they had to do was get it done when they could.
However, if they intentionally avoided doing it, then there were consequences they had to face. Consequences here could be withholding a certain privilege like no playing video games or having friends over until they got the task done and then they got these privileges back.
6) Encourage with Rewards
If your child cleans the room or does any other chores without external influence from you, then a reward would not just encourage further positive cleaning but would help them develop the right behaviour over time.
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