MOTIVATING YOUR CHILD TO CLEAN UP
Children do not clean up and put away things on their own. It is a learning process that takes time, patience, and perseverance. Yelling might work temporarily, but in the long term it is ineffective as children become resistant and build resentment toward their parents. Instead, using firm requests while encouraging your children may lead them to be more cooperative. Like adults, children appreciate being treated with respect and good manners. The more parents understand and apply these concepts, the more children will grow into more responsive and responsible adults.
Here are a few strategies to help you motivate your child to clean up:
1. Set a good example. It may seem obvious, but you need to be consistent between your expectations and your own behavior. If your house is not tidy, do not expect your child to put away her toys. By showing your child that you take care of your belongings, it will send her the right message.
2. Ask for one thing at a time. If you give your child multiple reminders at once, chances are she will forget at least half of it. Instead, focus on one aspect you want to be achieved. Once done, praise her and then ask for something else. For instance, say to your child “Please put your homework folder in your backpack” Then, when she is done, tell her “Thank you for doing this. Now, can you put your dirty clothes in the hamper?”
3. Use a positive and encouraging voice. It might be difficult to keep your frustration out of your voice, but if you do not, your child will perceive it and will probably not comply. Instead, take a few deep breaths before speaking and think about how to formulate your request. It is best to say, “Please remember to pack your lunch box.” instead of “Unlike yesterday, do not forget to pack your lunch box.”
4. Get your child’s attention. This means moving close to your child and not yell a prompt from the bathroom while your child is in her bedroom. It also means making eye contact. If you have a young child, do not hesitate to kneel to be at her level. If your child is older, they need to stop texting or playing a video game before being able to hear you.
5. Let your child choose where her toys belong. If you let your child be part of the process by giving her options, then she will more likely to want to put things away. So, let her be involved in the decision as to where put her things.
As long as you have children at home, you may need to give up having a spotless house, but tidy can be an attainable goal. With persistence, encouragement, and a few consistent rules, your child can learn how to clean up.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.