Tips on Training and Teaching Kids to Clean
Cleaning can be a learning and productivity experience for your kids
Frequently I speak with family and friends about their cleaning experiences – both good and bad. Overwhelmingly, the conversations lead to either party wanting to swap stories about how they found a great cleaning product or technique that makes their cleaning experience fruitful. However, very rarely do I hear parents talk about how they take time to teach their kids thru cleaning. I would like to offer up two unique lifelong skills that can be taught thru involvement of your young ones in household chores.
Attention to Detail
This axiom is ubiquitous throughout the military and life in general. How many times have you been stung by not paying attention to the details of a job, paperwork, contract, plan, or exercise? In our household, we strive to teach our kids to pay attention and at least recognize sloppy work or subtle oversights when conducting chores. A perfect example is cleaning up after an evening meal –
Wiping down the counter – make sure the surface is left clean and sanitized – no sticky areas or crumbs.
Counter Stools – Wiped down, again check for sticky areas around the top where the little ones grab.
Floors – If you look closely, you can always find scraps in the corner areas, under tables etc.
One thing I like to do in multiple children households is give each child a job, and also appoint an “inspector” at the end. The Inspector role is to look over their chores as well as their siblings’ and to see if they find any escapes. This may seem a bit too militaristic – but it can be made fun – in fact kids make this exercise enjoyable and in the end it ingrains the importance of attention to detail at a young age. One key thing to remember is to rotate not only the chore the child does, but also who plays the role of inspector (yes the inspector can be the youngest child too!).
Presentation, Satisfaction of a job well done
For me, and I am sure many of you, the best part of doing a chore or housework is reveling in the end product – maybe it is a clean play room, a sanitized bathroom, or a uncluttered mud room. If we rush thru chores, dread them, and do not experience the fruits of our sweat equity – what is the point! With kids, teens and even adults – cleaning is seen as an unbearable chore that we want to get thru as fast as possible in order to move on to our other lives activities. I would like to challenge this philosophy – and furthermore, train kids at a young age to take ownership and pride in their work. Here is an example of a chore that kids can participate in and maybe more importantly create a positive work environment –
Playroom – Kids really can appreciate a clean/organized playroom – they can find the toys they have “been looking for”, and moreover a clean playroom usually equates to more room to play in. When our family carves out an hour or two organizing and cleaning a playroom we always spend a good ten minutes at the end sitting in the room and absorbing the satisfaction of a job well done – appearance is structured, scent is fresh and clean, and clutter is removed. Take a moment with your kids to “take a deep breath at the end” and experience satisfaction before rushing off to the next activity.
In closing – here are a few other things to consider as you work methodically thru your weekly chore list with your kids –
- Ownership – no matter how small the job – it has your name on it as you did the work. There should always be a sense of pride in even the rudimentary tasks in life.
- Reputation – kids need to learn at a young age that if you work hard and take pride in your work, you will build a positive relationship not only with your co-workers (siblings) but your chain of command (boss, parents etc).
- Even the smallest task is important – find ways to teach the meaningfulness of the chore – remember the “inspection exercise”.
- Building trust – How many times do you ask your kids if their room is clean, only to hear the words “yes” but find upon close inspection the room is not clean? Building trust takes time, and one area that can imbue a sense of trust between a child and a parent is cleaning/inspection. Over time, there will be no need to inspect!
Do you have tips on training and teaching kids to clean? Share it with us below.
Also check out my other cleaning tips: