Keeping your home clean and tidy with small kids around is everything but easy, especially if they are not doing their part of the job. Getting them to clean, however, is a lot easier said than done. The good news is that with the right strategy, making your kids help you with cleaning doesn’t have to end up with yelling and tears.
Here are a few ideas that tend to work for most parents:
Instead of insisting that they clean their entire room, consider trying the so-called little-by-little approach which foresees splitting up big tasks into smaller ones and gradually increasing the number of tasks. The idea is to make cleaning less unpleasant and at the same time, help the child learn how to clean properly and eventually, clean their entire room without complaining (too much). The same approach can also be used to get your kids involved in cleaning the rest of your home.
Accept that it’s not going to be perfect
The sooner you accept that your kids will not be as thorough as you, the better. This, however, shouldn’t discourage you from getting them to help you with cleaning. But be sure not to be too harsh on your kids for not doing the job properly. Instead of encouraging them to be more thorough the next time, they may feel discouraged from helping you altogether. If it’s of any comfort, it will get better when they get older.
Try to make is as fun as possible
For example, make it a competition. Whoever gets the job done first gets a reward of some kind. It doesn’t have to be anything special, just something to make things more interesting. Another great idea is to play some music, introduce kid-sized cleaning tools and toys, award points for completed tasks,… anything you think that may make cleaning more fun.
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Try to create balance between reward and punishment
If a positive approach doesn’t work, don’t hesitate to resort to punishment which, of course, should be proportional to their behaviour. However, don’t only punish bad behaviour. Instead, reward or at least praise your child when showing the effort to help you with cleaning, even if they are only picking up toys off the floor. While negative reinforcement is thought to discourage the child from misbehaving, positive reinforcement is believed to have a motivating effect.
Watch your behaviour and body language when you’re cleaning
Kids are much better at reading your emotions, feelings and body language than you may think. They know when you’re sad, happy, angry, worried, hurt, etc. And since they tend to look up to you, they are highly likely to like and dislike the same things as you. So it may be a good idea to watch your behaviour and body language when you’re cleaning. If your kids can see that you hate it, you will have a very hard time getting them to help you with cleaning.
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