How to Help a Kid Clean Their Room

As the new year approaches, our thoughts naturally turn to ways to start clean for the new year. If you have a kiddo (or even a teen!) who struggles with keeping their room clean, having just a little help and support can help them cut through the clutter. Here are some tips to help your kid clean up their room. The feeling of being supported in this effort will also remind them that they don’t have to face big challenges alone!

Keep Tasks Age-Appropriate

Things that we think are easy can be a big struggle for kids. Developmentally, kids have brains that are still plastic and changing, and that can make it difficult for them to organize and prioritize, and to break big tasks down into smaller chunks. Keeping your kids’ cognitive skills in mind when you give them tasks can help prevent feelings of frustration and hopefully avoid tantrums. 

Toddlers can:

  • Help make their bed
  • Pick up toys and books
  • Put toys away in a toy box
  • Put dirty clothes in a laundry hamper

Kids Age 4-5 can:

  • Wipe up messes
  • Dust

Kids Ages 6-8 can:

  • Fold and put away laundry
  • Empty trash receptacles
  • Vacuum and mop

Toddlers will most likely need your company and direction to encourage them and help keep them focused on the task at hand. You may feel like it’d be quicker to do these chores yourself, but remember; you’re teaching them valuable life skills, in a supportive way that will help make cleaning up feel like less of a chore.

Use Chore Checklists

When you tell a kid to clean their room, they might struggle to break down a big chore into little tasks, and organize those tasks. This can result in cleaning their room feeling impossible and overwhelming, and can lead to feelings of frustration and failure.

Instead, break the chore into smaller tasks for them, since they might not be developmentally able to do so. Set up a checklist to guide your kiddo through a big room cleaning effort. Setting this list up as a sticker chart makes it even more rewarding, as your child has a way to visualize their progress, even if their room might look messier as they work on it.

Using chore checklists also helps your kids develop habits and learn how to tidy up their spaces. If they get overwhelmed and confused, make sure you’re available to answer questions and provide guidance.

Use Baskets

Baskets are a cheap, versatile storage solution! They’re even available at some dollar stores, and having a few on hand for tidying a child’s room is a great idea. Even toddlers can pick up toys and put them in a basket, and they can have fun doing so! 

Little kids may not know where every toy, book, or piece of clothing should go, but placing an object in the appropriate basket is much less taxing a task, and it’s basically a sorting game! Once your child has put all their things in the appropriate basket, it’s so easy to pick them up and put them in a closet, or dump them in a toy box, or arrange them on a book shelf.

Make It A Game!

Gamification has been pretty hot lately for helping adults get through their task lists, but it works just as well (maybe even better!) for little kids. Offer small rewards for tasks that get completed. Let them ring a bell once they’ve completed a chore. Give them a few minutes of playtime once they’ve completed a task. Set a timer and see how long it takes them to perform a task. There are all kinds of ways to make clean up time into a game.

You can also figure out fun ways to do otherwise boring tasks! Have your kid dust their room with clean socks on their hands as rags! Let them try to throw their clothing into the hamper like an NBA star! Practice ABCs while organizing their books! There are all kinds of ways to make chores fun.

Remember, Some is Always Better Than None

If you and your child only get the room halfway cleaned, or even if they only manage to get the dirty clothes picked up, remember that some is always better than none. Little kids can get frustrated and overstimulated really easily, and pushing them past the point where they’re exhausted is only going to teach them that chores are difficult, unpleasant, and unrewarding. 

If your kiddo gets too tired, stressed out, or frustrated by the cleaning process, that’s okay! We’re learning skills here, and that takes energy and is a long-term process. Just take a break and come back to it in an hour, or three hours, or the next day. This will help them feel supported and respected, and help them learn that cleaning up doesn’t have to be difficult!

So with these tips in mind, you and your kiddo are ready to tackle that messy room together, and learn how to do it at the same time! What’s better to start the new year than a nice, clean room?

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