Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Getting Your Children to Help You Clean

Most of us probably remember doing chores, but I doubt we think about when we started or what it took for our parents to teach us. I think at some point we look around our children’s messy rooms and wonder when they’ll ever pick it up so you don’t have to. Getting your children started doesn’t have to be a huge deal or even a big fight.

If you start young, so much of the stress will be gone just because the idea of picking up or cleaning can be SO exciting to a toddler. If your child is older, plenty of positive reinforcement and a little bribery might be in order to get the ball rolling.

Keep your expectations for your toddler fairly simple -- I don’t know that they’ll be able to deep clean a toilet or mop a kitchen, but I believe there are plenty of things they are capable of doing. If your children are older and just starting out, your approach might need to be like you are teaching a toddler; however, they will probably be able to handle more difficult tasks. Pick tasks that they seem interested in when you’re performing them and talk to your friends -- find out what their kids do. If you watch your toddlers, they get really, really excited when they see you pull out the mop or the vacuum. This is the time to get them started, because the desire to help is there!

The important thing to remember is to keep it positive -- make it fun, or at least rewarding. We all know that obnoxious, but effective, song that preschoolers sing and inspires every child within hearing distance to drop what they’re doing and act as though Ms. Poppins is snapping her fingers and watching over their efforts. Some of us have even read the Mrs. Pigglewiggle stories where she inspires children to clean through make-believe and magic. These may be stories, but the intention rings true -- if you make it fun, the children enjoy pitching in.

Our toddlers need encouragement and they need the time to be able to work. If we get tired of watching and guiding to the point that we take over, they may never feel empowered to do chores. If they feel like they didn’t do a good job because you take over when they’re done and redo all their work, they may get discouraged and not want to do chores.

What chores do your children do? How do you encourage them to help around the house?


By Brooke

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