Parents and caregivers can model skills for staying clean and organized that kids will use for years to come. Crème de la Crème put together this guide about the importance of teaching your children cleanliness and organization, and how to get started being a positive role model.

Teaching Kids Organizational Skills

A child's bedroom has toys laying around and needs organization

pile of assorted-color toy boxes photo” used with permission via Unsplash by igorstarkoff

You’re not alone if the idea of teaching your kid to get organized seems like a hopeless task. As daunting as it may seem, children really can learn how to clean up after themselves ?— as long as they get the right guidance. That guidance starts just by setting the expectation that kids should help around the house.

Make it clear that keeping your space clean is expected as part of a healthy family. When you expect kids to clean their rooms themselves, you’re showing them that you know they are capable and an important member of the family. On the other hand, if you always step in to clean your kid’s room, you’re essentially telling them you don’t think they can do it.

Kid-Friendly Cleaning and Organization Tasks

There are plenty of cleaning and organization tasks appropriate for kids to do. When you take the time to show your child how to clean up after themselves, you’re giving them the tools to independently maintain their living space. At the same time, you’re helping your child build skills in things like teamwork and following instructions.

In general, some tasks you can teach your kids include:

  • Cleaning mirrors or windows.
  • Folding their clothes.
  • Making their bed.
  • Organizing their closet.
  • Putting away their books and toys.
  • Sweeping or vacuuming floors.
  • Washing the dishes.
  • Watering plants and pulling weeds.
  • Wiping counters and sinks.

Start With the Bedroom

Feeling overwhelmed? Starting with your child’s own bedroom provides a more manageable place to get started teaching cleaning and organizational tasks. By giving kiddos ownership for their own space, you help them learn responsibility and accountability. Even if you have to adjust your expectations for how you define perfect organization at the start, it’s important to teach your kids what to do, then let them control the process. Kids will learn to feel empowered to keep things organized, which will translate to more organization in the long run.

Of course, your toddler isn’t going to start running your washing machine on their own. It’s important to set age-appropriate expectations, too. Here are some general guidelines:

  • 1 to 2 years old: You can model simple tasks and have your child assist you. For example, you can spray a cleaning fluid on a table, then ask your child to wipe, or have your kid hold a dustpan while you sweep.
  • 2 to 4 years old: You can start teaching your kid to put dirty clothes in a laundry basket, making sure you explain what they need to do. This is also a good age for teaching task completion, such as opening and closing containers.
  • 5 to 8 years old: As your child becomes more independent, start working on building this independence and empowering them to complete chores themselves.
  • 10 to 13 years old: Your child will start mastering different tasks, and you can add in time parameters. Tell your child exactly what you expect them to do as well as the time by which they need to do it. You’ll teach them time management skills as well.

How to Motivate Kids to Clean

You’ll have a few tricks to get kids excited to pitch in around the house. Start by framing household chores as an exclusive opportunity. Instead of making household tasks off-limits because of your child’s age, turn chores into a chance to do things adults get to do. You should also make your expectations clear from the get-go, ensuring your kid understands what a completed task and job well done actually means.

Many children respond well to visual organization. You might try creating a chore chart schedule to demonstrate tasks that your child needs to do each week. That allows your kid to work at their own pace, making progress every day so they don’t have to deal with the whole pile of chores at one time. You can also create a reward system to build a sense of productivity and accomplishment. You can also give your child a choice about which chores to do first, so they feel like they have agency and stay motivated.

Feedback and guidance are also key. Exercise patience as you work gradually with your kid to achieve independence. While your kid may need a lot of guidance the first time (or times!) they work on a task, repeated practice helps them learn how to get the job done. Make sure you give positive feedback when they do something well along the way, and calmly demonstrate the right way to do something if they do make a mistake.

Finally, ensure the whole family participates in cleaning and organizational tasks. Kids respond well when they see cleaning is a collective contribution. They get to see firsthand that chores benefit everyone in the family. So, when it comes time to fold laundry, make the activity a team effort instead of putting everyone in charge only of their own clothes.

Acting as a Role Model

Remember, your kids are always watching how you behave. They’ll pick up on how you handle stress, treat other people, and grapple with your own feelings. It’s so important to strive to act as a positive role model, even if you think your kids aren’t paying attention. (They are!)

One essential aspect is following your own rules. You won’t be perfect all the time, and that’s okay. Still, you should try to follow the rules you want your kids to follow yourself to model why those rules are important.

Your own slip-ups offer an opportunity to model life skills for your kids. You’ll have times when you don’t do things the way you planned, or you make mistakes while you’re trying to complete a task. Take those moments to talk to your children about where you made a mistake and how you hope to do things differently next time. Your kids will learn just as much, if not more, from how you react when things don’t quite go as planned as they will from perfect moments.Do you have any other tips for parents and caregivers looking for ways to model cleanliness and organization for their kids? Drop us a line so we can add your recommendation!