Cleanliness 101 for children: these are the rules from an expert!

Having kids and also wanting to keep the house clean are two perfectly normal things, but they don’t seem to work well together. According to a study, parents have to pick up after their children 4 times a day, while half of them do their kids chores for them, to ensure they’re done right. In these conditions, how do you teach your children the value of cleanliness, and, first and foremost, how do you differentiate between theory and practice? The answer could only come from an expert.

Dr. Tamar Chansky is a psychologist, author, and speaker, who devoted her professional life to the world of anxiety treatment, both for adults and children. She helped us understand how to explain the concept of cleanliness to kids and, more importantly, how to make them want to be a part of the cleaning process. Without further ado, here’s what the expert had to say:

1. Don’t make cleaning a punishment. This method doesn’t want if you actually want your child to clean up, it’s just used to scare him. Instead, a better message to send would be that “it’s not a punishment, not even a chore, but a ticket to other things being possible”. In other words, make your kids understand cleaning is a barrier they have to cross to do more pleasant activities. “If you are negative and talk about what the kid has to do in a grumpy manner, he will be grumpy right back”, Dr. Chansky warns.

2. Give your children options to choose from. For example, make them choose between two different chores, while you do the other: blocks, clothes, shredding mail, watering plants, setting the table, etc. This way, they will get a sense of ownership and even pride that they choose what to do.

3. If you have more kids, make cleaning a competition. Experts say that the idea of using a timer is very effective for siblings, especially those of similar ages since they can be highly competitive. “It can be used for literally everything: eating faster, coloring faster, getting dressed faster, cleaning faster, etc. Since we set up a timer for cleaning, this activity became fun. It helps avoid tantrums and meltdowns”, experts say.

4. Make use of the old Grandma’s Rule. Grandma’s Rule is simple yet effective: “No dessert until after you finish your dinner”. Of course, you can replace “dinner” with “cleaning”, and “dessert” with any other pleasant activity, such as playtime, watching TV, etc.

5. Make cleaning a family affair. Last but not least, to make cleaning more fun and bonding for your children, you should do it together, not separately and not for them. “Rather than sending your child off to the scary world of cleaning up on their own, you should do it together. Establish clean sweep times, where a family member sets 10 or more minutes on the clock and everyone does their magic. This way, you can all reap the benefits together”, Dr. Chansky concludes.

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