How to Teach Kids to Clean
How to teach kids to clean up after themselves or teach kids to “clean your room.” We Ask a House Cleaner tips for various learning styles.
Angela Brown, The House Cleaning Guru says you can teach kids to clean using visual, audible, and kinesthetic methods.
We learn about “My data vs. Your data”, ways to ask questions, have accountability, have a contest and a master inspector. It’s fun, it’s routine and it’s clean.
How to Teach Kids to Clean
“How do you teach your kids to clean their room?” That’s a great question, and we’re going to talk about that today.
Today’s question comes from a woman hired to teach 5 kids in a family to clean their rooms and do household chores. And she wants to know “How do I teach kids to clean up?”
Train the Trainer – to Teach Kids to Clean
The first thing to be aware of is that every kid has a different learning style. Some kids listen and they pick up what you say because they heard it.
There are some kids that are visual. They got to see you do it, and then they connect the dots and go, “Oh, yeah, I can do that.”
And then there are kids that need to “feel” the clean. They have to touch the insides of the sinks and run their hands-on top of the counters.
Teach Kids to Clean All Ages at One Time
Since all five kids are in the same family if you can teach them once it will save you four other teachings. So, my suggestion is to incorporate all three of those hearing, seeing and touching styles into your training.
Teaching them at once lets them all practice what they’ve learned at the same time even though they will have different levels of cleaning skill.
Teach Kids to Clean One Room at a Time
It doesn’t matter what the ages of the kids are, but if you teach kids to clean you want them to be involved. And so, as you go into a room, and my suggestion is just to pick one room at a time. Don’t go in and teach them to clean the whole house at once. Because that’s overwhelming and they’re not going to clean the whole house at once.
Let them choose the room that you want to clean. That way, they get involved. “Oh, yes, let’s clean this room.” Now, they’re involved.
Ask Questions They Can Answer
When you go in the room, ask them, “If we were going to clean this room, what do you guys see that needs cleaning?” And let them give you the information.
Don’t go in and say, “Hey, let’s do this, this, this and this,” because that’s your data.
Your Data vs. My Data
Now, let me share with you about your data versus my data, okay? Here’s how it works. If I’m the teacher and I just give you data, that is my data, okay?
That belongs to me. But if you take part and you engage and you interact and you give me some feedback, that’s your data.
If I give you information, “here’s my information”, you can argue with that all you want. You can say, “Well, that lady’s crazy. That data doesn’t mean anything to me.”
But once you get involved, once you start sharing your data back, that’s your data.
People Will Never Argue with Their Own Data
They’ll argue with someone else’s data, but they will not argue with their own. Does that make sense?
Okay, so you want to go in and you want to say, “Hey, what do you guys see that we need to pick up?” Let your kids and teens give you their data.
“What is the best way we can pick this stuff up?”
“Out of the five of you, who has the best solution on picking this stuff up?”
And let them show you their solutions.
“Now, as we put this stuff away, who has the best solution for putting this stuff away?”
Motivate them to think and work through the situation. Let them give you their data. They will show you. And they will jump through all kinds of amazing hoops that their mother does not know that they have. Kids know how to pick up the stuff. They know how to fold it. They know how to put it away.
Watch them and, if there’s something that you can tweak, do it. “That’s really great. I like this idea. There’s one way we can do it a little bit faster. You want to see how to do it?”
Once they’ve bought into their own data – they will be receptive to yours. And then they’ll go, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s cool. Show me how.”
Teach Kids to Clean by Finding Things They Did Right
Highlight something that they did that’s excellent, that will work. “Hey, this is an awesome approach. Let’s do this. Do we all agree?”
“This is the new way we’re going to hang this up. Do we all agree this is where this goes?”
Let them all give you their data. Let them buy into what it is you’re selling them, and what you’re selling them is a clean room.
“Once the room is clean, how will you know the room is clean?” Let them tell you.
Let them tell you how they will recognize the room is clean because that goes back to the feeling part of it.
“When you walk in your room and it’s clean, what does that feel like?”
Awareness Equals Recognition
Let them tell you how they will know the room is clean because they will recognize it when they see it. This is their data.
Once you’ve come to some agreements on what the room will look like when it is clean, there needs to be a schedule.
Time to clean and time when the cleaning is complete.
If there is no schedule, implementing the teaching is impossible.
If a parent says “Go clean your room.” What does that mean? By when? For how long? How will they know the room is clean? Who will be checking to make sure it’s clean?
Execution Needs Accountability – Inspection
Set a family schedule to pass off the chores. You don’t even need any tricks, just a schedule. Say, every night at 6:00 pm the rooms must be clean.
Who is going to be the master inspector? It can be the parents, or it can be a rotating schedule of the kids.
“This week, Julio is in charge of inspecting the rooms every night at six o’clock. The next week Anna is in charge of inspecting all the rooms at six o’clock.”
Have the same criteria to inspect all the rooms.
Create a checklist used to check off the chores, and buy the family an official inspection clipboard.
Provide them, say, 10 or 15 of these checklists and then a template they can print out.
The winner of the cleanest room gets a blue ribbon.
The Blue-Ribbon Winner – Lasts a Lifetime
We’ve been playing this game to teach kids to clean for years. Here’s how the blue ribbon works.
You buy a stash of blue ribbons and you give out only one per week per family for the cleanest room. They are inexpensive but well worth the investment.
The secret is to create scarcity by only giving out one per week. Not everybody gets one. They have to earn it. If everybody gets one, nobody has to “try to do better.”
Facts About the Blue Ribbon when You Teach Kids to Clean
- The blue ribbon is not edible. So, you’re not adding unnecessary weight to the kid or pumping their veins with sugar.
- Because there is only one blue ribbon there is a clear winner and a clear loser. The person that wins feels the thrill of winning and they want to repeat that next week.
- The loser also remembers how that feels and they will try harder to keep a clean room so they can win.
- Because you’ve created scarcity by only giving out one ribbon per week – the ribbon is valued more than if everyone got one for effort.
- Because the ribbons are earned kids will hold on to the blue ribbon into adulthood and display them as a badge of honor.
Teach Kids to Clean – Don’t Expect Perfection
These are a few suggestions to teach kids to clean. And then realize they are kids. They are not professionals paid by the hour, that will be called back to activate a satisfaction guarantee.
These are kids whose parents need a tidy home to keep order. Allowing the kids to help you create the system, and then take part in the inspections gets them involved in a fun and memorable program.
And the rewards will be hanging on their bedroom mirrors for years to come.
Alrighty, that’s my two cents for today, and until we meet again, leave the world a cleaner place than when you found it.