Getting Your Child to Help Clean Up
Children are so good at making messes. But when it comes time to tidying up, you might find yourself left in the lurch or being shouted at by a defiant tantrum-throwing toddler. So what can you do?
- Sing a song
Kids love songs, so why not use that to your advantage? It might take a little practice but once they hear the song, they will start cleaning up. My eldest is fairly good about cleaning up. I don’t always need to ask her to do it. She often takes the initiative to do it herself. But my youngest doesn’t quite get it yet. However, if I start singing our clean up song, suddenly the small one stops what she’s doing and says, “Clean up! Clean up!” Much to our great delight, she starts picking up toys from the floor.
- Work together
Everyone wants to feel like they’re part of a team. When my eldest is feeling overwhelmed by the cleaning, I take on some of it to show I’m a team player. I pick up all the books and organize them and then I give my girls suggestions of what they should clean up. After doing this several times, they now understand teamwork.
- Make consequences and stick to them
When my eldest kept leaving toys all over the floor before bedtime and didn’t put them away, I sat her down and told her that anything I found on the floor in the morning was going to become mine for a day. She ignored my requests to clean up before going to bed so I made good on my threat. After I dropped her off at school, I took all the toys I found on the floor, bagged them up and locked them in our closet for an entire day. There was a mega-tantrum when she got home of course but she learned a valuable lesson. She did not make this mistake again.
- Don’t forget to reward too
Punishing bad behavior is only part of it. We want to reinforce good behavior too. So every time your child picks up and puts away the toys, books and clothes that were scattered on the floor, make a big deal about how proud you are. You can also make chore charts with stickers and when your child fills up a row, you can give them a special treat. There are countless ways you can set up rewards systems for your child to acknowledge good behavior. What you choose isn’t as important as making sure to reward it. In this way, you raise children that are grateful and hard-working which will serve them well into their adult lives.
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