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Teaching a child to clean and organize their room

Does your kid's room look like this?
Does your kid's room look like this?
Morguefile / anda2007

Telling your child to go clean their room might be just a little overwhelming for them. Have you ever had a huge project you needed to do (spring cleaning, garage cleaning, moving or packing) and you just didn't know where to start? Kids may feel the same way if you use the overly general statement of "Go clean your room." You might want to try an easier method that will be less stressful for you and them.

Remember that their standards of clean probably don't match yours. Your kid might tell you that their room is clean, yet when you go check it, you still think it is a mess. Even adults have a different standard of clean than other adults do. Children just don't care about polished surfaces and freshly vacuumed floors.

Praise and Suggest

So long as it doesn't look like an episode of "Hoarders" praise their efforts and make a few minor suggestions. Say something like, "Yes, it looks great, but you know how we could make it even better?" Don't demand that they do it, but suggest, or they will get defensive. Wouldn't you be a bit upset if a friend walked in and said, "Hey, your house looks great, but you really should wash those windows!"

Breaking it down into small chunks will help keep them from feeling overwhelmed. If large projects overwhelm an adult, imagine how a child feels. Survey their room and either suggest what needs tackling the worst, or ask the child what he feels like doing.

Maybe she would rather pick up toys then make the bed. That's okay. Offer your help by saying, "I'll tell you what. I like making beds so I'll make your bed for you if you pick up all the toys." Discuss things as you work. Kids love being able to spend that one on one time with a parent. Even if they don't really want your help, they may enjoy the company.

Age Appropriate Directions

Be sure you are giving age appropriate instructions. If you have kids of varying ages, you can't announce at the breakfast table that "everyone needs to clean and organize their room today." Your teenager may get it and grumble under her breath, but a four- year- old will just look at you in bewilderment.

Tell smaller children that they are "going to be Mommy's helper today and bring all of their laundry to her." Once they have accomplished that, be sure to praise them and tell them that they have done such a good job, you bet they can have their toys picked up in no time!

Don't be upset if they get tired of the cleaning and organizing. Kids are easily bored, and let's face it; nobody really likes to spend their day cleaning. Haven’t there been times when you really didn’t want to clean, so you just didn’t do it?

If your child starts to whine, complain or slow down, maybe it is time for a break. Go do something fun with them. After all, we like to treat ourselves after a hard day's work. Kids deserve a break and a treat just as much as we do!

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