Everyone knows that small children and messes go hand in hand. Still though it doesn’t always have to be like this! By setting a good example, being persistent and including your child while performing your chores, you can encourage kids to clean.
Here are a few ideas on what kind of games you can use to stimulate your child!
1. Engage your children in your chores.
Always make them feel included when you do something super important like folding the laundry. Yes, I know that you don’t want them to distract you, but you have to make them feel included. This way the whole “magic” that surrounds folding the sheets, and making sock balls will be so interesting to them. You can put socks on your hands and play, or simply explain to them what exactly is it that you are doing. When you wash the kitchen counters why do you spray detergent and how you wipe – why is this important like “It kills bacteria, that can make you ill and stuff…”.
2. Make a game out of everything you do.
Do you have a spray bottle with baking soda and water or vinegar and water? Give it to your child and allow him/her to spray the top of the kitchen counters. Kids love spraying bottles and find it very amusing to spray so they will look forward to the next time they can spray the counters. At some point hand them a paper towel and teach them how to wipe. Only use this method though when you clean with natural products. Don’t allow your children around chemicals and acidic detergents. Here are some more game ideas:
– Pirate’s Loot – all Lego particles and other toys are treasure, now let’s find a chest and hide them!
– Dare – I bet you can’t put all the toys away in less than 5 mins, I bet I can fold my pieces of laundry first, I bet… You get it.
– Stories – little children love stories and you can make up stories while you clean. Make up stories of the items you are putting away.
– Share – if you hate clutter, it is a good idea to establish one simple rule. If a new toy comes around, an old one goes away. Give it to charity and teach your child both to organize and to give away to the less fortunate.
– Music – dancing while cleaning, sounds fun to me!
3. Don’t allow them to proceed unless they clean up.
Teach them that everything comes with a price. If you play and make a mess you need to clean it up. If they have been drawing all day and suddenly want to play with other toys make them put away all the crayons and colour pencils. Don’t allow them to spill their toys before they have cleaned up. This way they will think twice before they take out something they don’t really intend to use.
4. Reward their good behaviour.
When it comes to cleaning always reward and celebrate accomplishment. According to the Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1963) children learn through observation, but mainly they adopt behaviour that gets rewarded. If you let them get away with cleaning, they will keep on trying to avoid it, because they are “rewarded” when you do it for them. Instead, give them a nice treat when they clean themselves. Create in them a sense of accomplishment when the job is done properly.
5. Set up a good example.
Last, but not least: “Be the change you want to see in the world”. In other words try and set up a good example, be persistent and when it comes to cleaning show them the right ways to do it. Don’t give in to lazyness and don’t exploit your child. They are not there to handle you the remote control or put away the dirty dishes. Soon enough they will feel exploited!
Hopefully all this was helpful and you will manage to make your kid clean up. It’s all in your hands now – depending on how persistent and patient you will be!