9 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Clean Up after Themselves

While teaching a child to clean up toys after playing and helping maintain cleanliness in the house, it is difficult not to forget about the main thing – any work should bring joy and pleasure. The novelty about the first use of a broom or making some foam from a detergent passes quickly, and the child is left alone with the daily routine.


How much time will pass until parental words like “must” and “shall” will develop willpower and contribute to good habits? And will the baby have them during his/her life or maybe will forever hate housework, change the attitude to washing dishes or treat wet cleaning as a punishment?

How can one inveigle the child into interest and keep him/her involved after cleaning?

Role playing

For a little child, there is no better way than a game. You can present yourself as a bulldozer, removing trash or driving the dolls home by taxi. You can “bite” mosaic grains scattered on the carpet. Or imitate a sorting robot.

A child may be practicing a special cleaning game for many years, where the forces of purity struggle with trash monsters. The game lasts for hours and may not be very effective, since the defeated and driven into containers monsters get released and venture another attack. But the child keeps playing with enthusiasm every day.

Outside the child’s room, there are at least several causes for writing games. For example, a vacuum cleaner is very similar to a creature demanding food. And shoes resemble horses which need to be washed from dirt and rubbed with a brush.


Another way to awaken the interest is to make a useful invention for cleaning. The most popular items are wheelbarrows and shovels for carrying things that a son can create from scrap materials. Another interesting thought is about the ways to sweep the floor with your brushes tied to the feet. Not all of these ideas provide the speed and quality of the solution, but the habit of thinking every time about optimizing labor is very useful.

Games of chance

Now it’s hard to remember who invented the “guesswork” game. The rules are simple – parents go about their business, and the child runs to the nursery room, puts a few toys of the same type in places and then tells them how many things he removed. Parents will have three attempts to try to find out what it was, “Lego? Pencils? Cars? “If they have guessed it – the child receives as many points as many toys he/she has collected, Then the child runs to put more toys in their places.

Cleaning time

Many children find it difficult to remain alone among the disorder. That is why they are more willing to help wash dishes and floors, but would not go back to the scattered toys. But as toys do not need cleaning, we have to invent something interesting. One of the favorite ways to address the child is writing an ad. One can declare the “garbage time” and collect cut papers for a few minutes, then one can declare “Lego time” and the child will put the items in the container. And so on: “Office time”, “The time for soft toys”, “The time for other objects.”

One has to think about additional rules in order not to get often distracted from affairs. This is how the game of dice was born. To play it, one needs to prepare in advance a list of categories of objects and two dice. The blue cube indicates the category; the red one shows how many of these items can be removed. The child throws the dice and performs the task.

When the game gets boring, we can make a funny addition – card events. The card should be pulled if the dice shows “6”. On the cards:

  • Funny and enjoyable: a vacation, a somersault on the rings, imitating a rooster.
  • New categories of cleaning: 5 red (plastic, small, scary) items.
  • “Black Hole” – search and destroy cluster objects.
  • All sorts of unusual types of cleaning – to collect things, hopping on one leg, or throw the things into a container from a distance.
  • Children like the card: “Report to your mom about the cleaning.”

It is clear that cards only prolong the process of cleaning. But the child does not need any other games, asking only this one.

Mission possible

For household chores, you can use cards with missions. Each of them includes a list of some repeated tasks. For example, “Wash 20 dishes, make your bed 5 times, clean the sink 3 times.” On the reverse side of the card there are points for performing the task. At the same time the child receives 3 missions; a fully accomplished mission is replaced by a new one. The game becomes boring, but the problem of motivating help around the house will be resolved for a week or two.

A quest

A normal parental ultimatum that sounds like “you will not watch cartoons until you bring your room in order” can be transformed into a fascinating quest for the child. If you have time – it is better to draw a map with 7-10 stations. The child is traveling from one station to another, and at each of them he/she meets the locals and receives certain tasks. Residents of the city have to clean the bottom of the lake (to clean the sink), the other card requires helping to harvest (scattered Lego), others will ask the child to work in the garden (water the flowers). At the fourth station, the residents can simply treat the traveler with an apple. The ultimate goal of the journey (a cartoon) is also important, although most of the children are carried away by the process – adventures and waiting for new meetings.


At primary school age children start to fight for equality in the family and come up with rules for everyone. And they may well be supported. For example, agree that everyone who puts a plate or a spoon into an empty sink is obliged to wash them. Or decide that everyone in the family will be responsible for cleaning the apartment for 15 minutes before breakfast. General cleaning is also better done when everyone is together.

Family events

Sometimes the joint work may temporarily give way to a competition. It is convenient to hang a sign on the refrigerator where everyone will indicate the washed dishes or the garbage that has been taken away. A week later, one needs to summarize the notes and award the winner. Even if adults continue to do everything in the usual way, the kid will be excited.

Logic games

The cleaning game can be played for many years. One can constantly come up with something new. The latest development contains the list of all the household chores, each of which is marked by some symbol. If you have performed the action – you indicate its symbol on your card. Everyone can participate, not only children. Earned symbols can be added in combinations and converted into points. Combinations are different: “4 identical symbols”, “5 different characters,” “two pairs of characters” and so on. The most interesting thing is to figure out how to combine earned characters to get the maximum number of points.


Here we should say more about the awards. In many games, the child earns points. But what to do with them then? First of all, a successful game will be interesting without prizes too. Therefore, the prize may be some pleasant thing – a candy, a sticker. You can collect points for something intangible, such as a trip to the zoo. You can use them for cartoons and computer games. They can be used as a prize together with the pocket money. But the most honest and logical exchange of points takes place when the child plays with the parents, reads or travels. The little helper really saves time for the parents. The prize can be assigned in advance. And you can write a whole list of different awards with the prices and let the child choose.

What’s next?

Many parents fear that if the child is offered such a fun game once, he will not get out in the usual way and will think of getting something all the time. Perhaps it is not so bad. Especially when the parents see their children learn to count and practice reading in these games, develop imagination and coach logic. And it is hard to convey how much joy, inspiration and family togetherness brings inventing each new game. So do not stop.

But at the same time the child grows. He/she begins to enjoy the activities performed well and with good quality, rejoice the conversion of “terrible into beautiful.” The child understands that it is not the time to fight trash monsters as the guests must arrive in an hour. And some things finally become habits and do not require a special motivation. In addition, the child quickly learns to help with ideas and make additions, and then turn any chores into interesting actions.

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