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How to Get Your Kid to Clean Their Room
Storage Ideas for Kids Rooms | Cleaning a Child's Bedroom
How to Get Your Kid to Clean Their Room
by Jacob and Carol Maslow
If you've ever despaired over how fast your children can wreck a tidy room, you're not alone. It's all too easy for kid's toys, books and clothes to completely take over a home and leave parents feeling frazzled and disorganized. Convincing them to tidy up after themselves sometimes feels like a losing battle and tired parents often feel like it's not worth the trouble.
Although it might take a lot of work in the beginning, it is possible to teach children to be reasonably neat so that everyone can feel relaxed and comfortable. The trick is to set up systems that make it easy for children to tidy up and enforce age-appropriate expectations for responsibility.
If you’ve ever visited a preschool or daycare classroom, you've probably noticed how everything has a designated place. This makes it easy for children to find what they need and to know where to return it when they are finished. This makes tidying up less overwhelming for everyone involved.
Toy boxes are great for large, bulky toys but don’t work so well for puzzles, blocks, games and smaller toys that belong in a set. Instead, use a bookshelf with deep shelves or other similar system and keep like with like. Use baskets or plastic shoe-boxes to keep sets together. Use picture labels to help your child identify where things should go.
As you get your play areas organized, cull through your collection of toys and games and pull out ones that are broken, missing too many pieces and that your child has outgrown. It’s also a good idea to put away a few toys to be rotated back in later to keep things manageable.
Reasonable limits won’t hamper a child’s imagination. In fact, it can help them stay focused instead of becoming too distracted by clutter. Giving your child clear expectations will help them learn how to be responsible and take care of their things. Some examples of reasonable limits include:
Not taking out a new toy, game or puzzle until they’ve put away the old one.
Having designated areas to play with certain toys, i.e. blocks stay on the carpet or puzzles should be done at the table.
No food or drinks in the play area.
Toys must be played with in a safe way.
Everyone must work together to clean up.
Be consistent about enforcing these limits and you’ll find that it’s soon second nature for your child to follow them.
Keep Things Fun
Nobody likes to nag their child, so why not do your best to make keeping things neat and tidy a game? “Because I said so” often triggers a battle of wills between parent and child. Instead, make it a cooperative effort. You could try:
Giving your child a warning before it’s time to tidy up. Set a timer at the five minute mark and let your child know that when buzzes, it’s time to put their toys away and move on to the next activity. Children are much less likely to argue with a timer because it seems more objective than a parent simply saying “time’s up”.
Singing a clean up song while you work. If you don’t know any, try looking on YouTube for simple melodies you and your child can sing together as you work. These special clean up songs work best with younger children. For older ones, you can try playing some of their favorite pop music and doing your best dance moves as you clean.
You can make it a game or contest. Challenge your child to pick up all the square blocks, then all the triangles and so on until they are all put away. Make it a race to see who can get their side of the room picked up first. Can you put away the books while hopping on one foot?
Thank your child for helping, but don’t feel like you have to go crazy with the praise. Children should see cleaning up after themselves as a natural part of being in a family and not some huge favor they are doing for their parents.
Teaching children how to keep their toys neat and organized helps them to get more enjoyment out of the toys that they’ve been given. It’s no fun playing with puzzles that are missing pieces or having to dump out an entire toy box to find their doll’s shoes or enough blocks to build with. Be proactive and help your child learn to be responsible with their toys and you’ll both benefit in the long run.
By Jacob and Carol Maslow. Proud parents of 5 pre-teen children. Carol Maslow is a therapist specializing in helping developmentally delayed pre-school children integrate with their classmates. Jacob works for Todays Concept, where you can find the classic Melissa and Doug toys. Jacob and Carol both feel that real toys do not need batteries.
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