How to get your children to really clean their room
Getting your children to clean—let alone really clean—their room is every parents struggle.
We we came across this article from Huffington Post where they asked parents to send in photos of clean rooms according to their kids we knew we weren’t alone in that struggle. Obviously, the results are funny and slightly too real for most parents.
As parents we have a pretty set idea of what a clean room looks like—everything picked off the floor and put away in its proper spot, clothes hung in the closet, bed made, trash taken out, and the whole thing vacuumed. Ask your children what a clean room looks like, they’re going to give you some that is a far cry from that. Our kids just don’t magically know what to do—they have to be taught and then taught again.
We have a secret. We know how to get your children to clean their room to your standards. Yes, we’re serious. We know the key to making your life better and getting your kids to do what you want them to do. What is the secret? It’s using the steps of Preventive Teaching. Preventive Teaching works because you are teaching your child what you expect. Does the table cleared mean dishes in the sink or dishes in the dishwasher? Is there a difference between everyday clean and company clean?
This is how you’d get your children to clean their room using the steps of Preventive Teaching.
First, get your children on your side by expressing empathy or telling them what they’re doing right. If if the only thing you can find to praise them is the fact that they did a half way decent job making their bed—tell them. By telling them what they’re doing well, you’re already setting them up for success!
Second, describe what you want your child to do. Children are notorious for not hearing everything you say. Which means you need to be clear and not to overload them with information. Instead of telling them everything they need to do to clean their room, focus on one task at a time. If you try to tackle everything at once, you’re only setting your child up for failure and that will make both of your frustrated. When you tackle one project at a time you’re allowing your child to succeed and once they feel like they can do that, they’ll be more likely to continue to want to improve. Now, if you want your children to do something a specific way, this is the time where you show them what you expect.
Third, give a reason that’s meaningful to your child why they should do this. It’s at this step where many parents fail. When we give a reason why our kids should do it, it’s usually a reason that means something to us and not necessarily our kids. Most children do not want to clean their room and see the time spent cleaning their room as benefiting their parent’s and not them. But, if the children think they’re going to be the ones benefiting, well, then that’s where the magic happens. You may think that telling your child, “if you clean your room you won’t get yelled at” will motivate them, but, if you’ve yelled at them in the past and nothing has changed, it means that yelling isn’t a motivation for them. It’s a motivation for you. Instead, allowing them to earn extra screen time or come in past curfew may get you results because that’s something that they want. Not sure as to what motivates your child? Look what they do in their spare time or what they spend their money on. Still not sure, try using the worksheet Finding a Meaningful Reason or asking them what type of rewards they’d like.
Fourth, it’s not just enough to teach them what you want from them. If you want it to stick, you need to practice it until they get it. It’s during the practicing that you’re going to get the change that you want so don’t skip this step—especially if your children don’t want to practice. And sometimes they’re going to need a refresher. Many parents have found that including a check list or a description of what they want is a good way to remind them to what you expect.
Fifth, during your practice, find something positive they did. Praise is the best motivator out there so don’t take a step backwards by forgetting this step.
The steps of Preventive Teaching work on more than just getting your kids to clean their room. The steps of Preventive Teaching work for preparing your kid for something new, following curfew, and understanding consequences when they break a family rule.