This post is part of a series on decluttering, organizing, and teaching your child how to clean their own room. Before you can teach your child how to clean their own room you must prepare and organize the space so they aren’t overwhelmed. In case you missed them, you can check out all the posts in A Clean Room is a Fun Room series here.
Now that your child’s bedroom is decluttered, organized, and clean, it’s time to implement the next step- teaching them how to keep it that way.
Here is a step-by-step summary of how you can teach them, but please tailor it to your specific needs and to your specific child.
1. Room Tour:
First, help your child get acquainted with how it is organized.
Explain to them that everything in their room has a home and when we clean up we are helping all the items go back to where they live.
Then show them where everything lives and how we know where they go because of the pictures on each label.
2. Play and Enjoy:
Then let your child play for the day and have fun in their nice clean room.
At the end of the day ask them what they thought about having a clean space to play in today.
Then announce that it’s time to clean up so that tomorrow they can have a clean play area too. Tell them that you will be cleaning up the room every day so it stays clean and fun.
Reassure them that you are going to help them clean up the first few times as practice.
If you have purchased a Clean Room is a Fun Room Printable Pack, show your child the “how to clean your room” print out and go over the steps with them.
After they are familiar with the steps ask them “what is the first step?” When they say or point to “pick up toys” ask them “where do the toys go?” Once they tell you where the toys go, help them pick up the toys and model for them how to do it.
5. Praise as You Work Together
Praise them for their efforts as they help clean their room.
Continue asking them what step is next and then showing them how it’s done until all of the steps are complete.
For older children, show them the clean room checklist and work together as a team to get it done. Praise them for their efforts.
Now would be a great time to discuss why we need to take responsibility for our things and to keep our rooms clean so they don’t get too overwhelming and frustrating to clean.
6. Establish a routine:
Clean their room with your child once every day around the same time each day until they can do it on their own. This might take days or it might take weeks depending on the age and understanding of your child.
Once they can do it on their own give them their “clean room chore chart” and explain the reward system. Let them help you decide on the rewards and consequences so they are more likely to follow through and be excited about the system.
Kids ages 3 & 4:
While I do recommend starting this when your child is at least 3, keep in mind that a 3 or 4 year old will need more direction and motivation to stay on task. By doing it with them you are setting the expectation and training them to develop their own executive functioning skills. In a year or two they will be capable of doing it all on their own, and who wouldn’t love to have a 5 or 6 year old that cleaned their room on their own every day? Trust me, it will be worth it.
Once they are responsible for cleaning their room for themselves you will still need to remind them and give them a reward or consequence until it becomes a habit for them. Remind them every day that it’s time to clean their rooms.
Try to do this around the same time every day.
You can use something you already are doing every day as the trigger so you can build this new habit into a routine.
For instance, say your kids get home from school, have a snack, and an hour of screen time. You could instead say, they have to clean their room before screen time.
Habits stick better when they are built into a routine we already have.
8. New Habits:
Eventually (in a few months) they will have cleaning their room down as a habit and as a clear expectation. When this happens you can add to their responsibilities.
You can begin to work on giving them a new habit to master, such as putting away laundry.
Now that they know where their clothes go and they are already tidying, this is a natural addition. Then you can reward or give a consequence for cleaning their room AND putting away their freshly cleaned laundry.
In time you can teach them how to vacuum or mop their room and add that into their routine. And as the responsibilities grow, so do the privileges and rewards. This should happen slowly and naturally. Focus on consistency first.
Congratulations, you now know exactly how to teach your child how to clean their room and create great new habits!
Ready to get started? Get all the fun, colorful printables that will help you organize your child’s toys and closets, and teach them how to keep their rooms tidy and fun, check out A Clean Room is a Fun Room: 4 Weeks to Get Your Child to Clean Their Own Room and Play More now.