Clean Up!

By Gary Screaton Page

When you want a child to clean up after play are you asking too much? What you mean by “Clean up…” and what the child understands is very much related to the child’s age. Young children can reasonably help put single toys into the toy bin with guidance. Then, with practise, they can do it by themselves. A bigger cleanup job requires more skill and training, typical of older children.

Older children, when taught how to clean up and shown what is meant by “clean,” can reasonably be expected to complete this chore on their own. Once you have seen them do the job — with supervision to be sure they know how — let them do it by themselves without supervision.

Give them a timeline, however, over which they have control. For example, say, “Clean up your room before dinner.” Then, when they come for dinner check to see that the room is clean — as you have already demonstrated. If it is not, they don’t come to dinner. They control when they come to dinner: only when the chore is completed. When it gets completed is up to them.

I have not known a child to go hungry before the room was clean. However, just be sure your focus is on the cleanup and not on the irrelevant complaining that usually follows your rules and directions. If you lose your focus, the child will be in charge not you. Focus only on the behavior to which you want your child to comply. For the time being, everything else is irrelevant.

One lesson at a time. Focus on the task and ignore everything else until the job is done.

Learn more about this and other great parenting tips. To order your personally autographed copy of Being the Parent YOU Want to Be: 12 Communication Skills for Effective Parenting click here:

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