Is a clean bedroom for your child possible?

Having your child clean his or her room can teach responsibility and help to maintain a calm environment for your child to rest in. But how and when do you begin? Regardless of age, carefully teach your child how to meet the tidy-room expectation before enforcing any kind of consequence.

Begin by assuming that she knows nothing about cleaning her room. Sit her down and say, “I am going to show you how to clean your room.” And then do so. Use eye contact and give specific and realistic cleaning-up-your-room tasks, such as “Put all your clothes in the hamper,” and “Put your stuffed animals on the shelf.”

For this to work, items need a designed place. At ages 4-6, start giving a short list of three specific tasks to perform independently. Add more or create a list as your child succeeds.

When she follows your specific instructions, praise her with words and a loving touch. If she doesn’t, box up the specific item(s) that she did not take care of properly and take them away. Make taking away the items a non-event. There should be no yelling or tears. She knew the expectation and the consequence ahead of time, and now part of what you are able to teach her is how to accept a consequence (another excellent life skill).

She can earn them back by completing another small room clean up task. She can also lose more than one item at a time. She can do without her dress up clothes, Webkinz, or Legos all at once. Her room may get kind of sparse. However, keep in mind that every child needs certain basics—warm bed, clean clothes, pair of shoes.

How long will this take? You need to take into account your child’s temperament. If you have a child with a difficult temperament (researchers say about ten percent of children have a purely difficult temperament) then it will take a lot of teaching the same small tasks again and again. Your child is capable of learning to pick up her room, even if her personality doesn’t lend itself to compliance.

After lots of practice, when you ask your child to “Go clean your room please,” she will know exactly what to do and how to do it. Good Luck!

This article was written by Anne Oxenreider of the fabulous parenting site The Sixty-Second Parent.

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