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3 Ways to Encourage Kids to Clean Up After Themselves

Submitted by on July 31, 2012 – 3:38 pm2 Comments

Making Kids Chores a Part of Everyday Life

Guest post from D’TaRelle Tullis from

1. Create the Habit Early

I once went to a coworker’s house who had a small daughter. Her daughter was around 2 or 2 1/2. We walked into her home together and she had not had any time to clean up or straighten the house before I came. When I walked into the house with her and her daughter I was shocked! I couldn’t believe my eyes! Her home was spotless and organized! You would have thought she lived there alone and that she didn’t have not a single child.

I was so impressed I asked her how she managed to keep her home so neat and organized with a toddler and busy work schedule. She explained to me that because she had such a busy schedule and she had to have a clean house she taught her daughter very early to pick up after herself. Everything she ever used was to be put away immediately after using it. This included her toys, a plate,a cup or a fork anything had to be immediately put a way after it was used.

2. Being Uncompromising and Consistent

The only way to accomplish and create any habit is being consistent. You cannot make excuses or compromise until the habit has been formed for quite some time. And even then  it is better to still be consistent. My friend told me that she didn’t want to hear anything! She laid down the law early on and that was it!! She also understood that she was creating a responsible child that would have a trait that would serve her well in her life.

Some people would say 2 years of age is too young. I think it’s a great age because they are so willing and happy to please. They are also learning about how things are done so if it is explained and reminded consistently that after we are finished with something we put it away. This will become a habit and then hopefully a way of being if kept up. So this means as they are growing up you are reminding them to do this and not deviate. If you do this at every opportunity the chances are less likely that you will have a war when they are teens when it comes to cleaning.

3. Explain How Important it is to Contribute to the Whole

I think the earlier we teach children that they have something of value to contribute and that it is needed and expected in the household, the easier all of our lives would be. For example when children grow up just cleaning their rooms and not cleaning up or helping out in other areas of the household, they feel that it is the parents’ job and the parents’ job alone.

What this does is bring a sense of entitlement and resentment when asked to help out in other areas of the house. Some people attach this helping out around the house to an allowance. I understand the concept of this in that they want their children to learn that they earn money, not that it just falls out of the sky or like some kids think now, that the money comes out of the machine or from swipes of a card.

My concern is that the lesson of everyone in the household contributing for the greater good of all is not addressed or emphasized. It should be explained that dirt is no respecter of persons and it just accumulates anywhere and everywhere. No one put it there. It’s not anyone’s fault and no one did anything wrong. But since everyone lives in the home every one should  help in the maintaining of the home and realize the importance of this contribution.

When done it should be acknowledged and appreciated and this should be expressed with a smile and enthusiasm, so that this behavior will continue in the future. Some people might say what if they don’t do it. But there is no what if they don’t do it. You can either stand there until it’s done or you can explain that they have a certain amount of time to do the task. If you come back and it’s not done it results in loss of privileges or a sit down and be still time or whatever consequences you have thought up ahead of time. This too has to be consistent and uncompromising.

Please let me know what works for you in your household or classroom.I would love to hear from you.

To read more of D’Tarelle’s great parenting tips, visit her at



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