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Virginia Wells

How Do I Get My Kids to Clean Their Room?

I often hear parents ask, “How do I get my kids to clean their room?” It seems to be something most parents struggle with. I have some ideas that might help.

Tips to Get My Kids to Clean Their Room

Get Them Motivated

First off you want to get them motivated, so you could consider going over their vision for the room with you, or consider these motivation hacks. Keep in mind when you’re dealing with kids, particularly young kids, they can go a bit overboard with a ‘magic wand’ in their bedroom and their ideas will be unrealistic. Either way, listen along and see what they want in their space. You might be able to work some of those desires in.

Once you’ve had a chat to them about how they want their room to be, it can also be a good idea to tie them into how they feel in their room when it’s messy… and then…. when it’s clean. If they can’t tune into that or they can’t think of a time that it’s been organised, maybe get them to think about places they visit that is organised and tidy. This can help them connect with wanting an organised space. It also helps you both understand the other’s expectations. 

Discuss Expectations

That brings me to expectations. It’s a pretty important point actually. Your child’s idea of what is tidy and acceptable is often different to their mum’s and dad’s idea of acceptable and clean. So having an open conversation about what a tidy room looks like is vital. 

For the conversation to be successful, you’ll need to let go of your expectations and preferences for what you want the room to look like, or how it needs to function. Consider yourself a private eye, collecting information only. You are trying to understand their point of view. No leading questions ;) (a leading question is where you’re directing them towards a preferred answer). Try to keep an objective view of the space and just talk to them from a place of figuring out what they want from their room. 

I’ve done this with many families and kids really do want similar things to you. Often they just don’t know how to organise it and clean it up. They’re overwhelmed just like you! 

Once you have the answers and a picture in your mind about what they want, then you can talk some more. Who would have thought there would be so much talking! This is where you can explain your expectations for the room. What level of cleanliness you expect.  

Be Prepared to Compromise

Ideally the two of you come up with solutions and compromises that suit you both. What if, however, you’ve had the chat and you’ve realised that they are not going to clean it to a level you’ll be happy with? In this instance, don’t throw your hands in the air and give up! You might just need to consider it in a more creative way. 

If your child doesn’t think it’s a big deal, and they really have no motivation to keep it tidy, ask them how the two of you can come up with a solution that makes you both happy. I read in a book about a child who suggested a trade… “I’ll cook dinner three nights a week, and whilst I do that, you could clean my room. That way we’re both happy. I have a clean room (which is what you want), and I get to do cooking which I’ve wanted to learn for ages. You get a night off cooking a few nights a week”. Involving them in the problem solving can be win-win!

Break it Down into Manageable Tasks 

The other thing holding kids back from tidying their room is that it’s just too overwhelming. Decluttering, organising and cleaning are ALL skills that need to be taught so teach them from a young age. You can play sorting games and group like items together. It’s a great learning tool.   

To start them on their room, you might just give them one small task at a time. When first teaching them I would stay with them and guide them through it. Teach them as they go. If they seem stuck, you can either ask them questions so they learn, or help them, so it’s not so overwhelming. 

Some examples of tasks to give one at a time would be: 

  • Pick up your books and pop them on the bookshelf 
  • Throw dirty washing in the washing basket 
  • Put your clean clothes in the cupboard 
  • Put you Lego in this box 
  • Place your dolls in the cradle 
  • Go through your t-shirts on this shelf and give me ones you don’t wear 
  • Take your rubbish out 
  • Bring your dirty dishes to the kitchen 
  • Put your pens into your pencil case 
  • Fill this bag with any papers you don’t want anymore 

As they get more competent you can make the tasks a bit broader like “tidy up your desk”.

Start with Small Amounts of Time

Start out with small amounts of time and consider just doing five minutes a day with them to get it into shape. Their attention span and ability to focus and make decisions for long periods of time are limited. Even for teenagers I’d say half an hour at a time is plenty. 

I know it is not easy to get your kids to clean their room. I’ve worked with many families – and I have a child of my own! So see how you go with these tips. I would love to hear what tips have helped you get your kids rooms tidy! Share them in the WellSorted Facebook group and we can all help each other out with this tricky topic.

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