How to get your child to clean their room.
As parents we can get frustrated that our kids don’t want to clean their room. They can be resistant, stall and turn what ‘should’ be a 15min task into an hour-long argument. Maybe they get started but a few minutes later they are sitting playing with a toy. Or maybe they give up and cry that is it too hard or they don’t want too.
Sometimes a messy room can be too overwhelming for kids to clean
They often don’t know where to start and it feels like it’s going to take forever. What can feel like a power struggle can often be more about weak executive functioning (especially if your child is neurodiverse).
Looking at this list of executive functions, how many do you think are needed to clean a bedroom?
Some ways weak executive functions can make cleaning a room challenging are; not knowing where to start, not knowing where to put things, staying on task once started and being distracted by the huge amount of stimulus in their room.
There can be problems with flexible thinking skills to be able to transition from a current enjoyable activity (free time) to a difficult undesirable one (cleaning room). And lastly being able to ‘feel time’ in the sense of how long the task will take is also a factor.
So what can we do to help our child be able to clean their room?
A really helpful thing to do is to take the big task (cleaning the room) and break it down into smaller more manageable tasks.
What you need…
A skipping rope or any piece of rope, a dressing gown belt will also do the trick.
The understanding that we all do better when we feel encouraged and when we can see progress.
Start in the corner and section off with the skipping rope. Focus on the corner and don’t look at the rest of the room. Focusing on the section can stop laying thoughts that lead to overwhelm.
Also consider starting with an easy corner first to help build confidence
Just focus on clearing that 1 spot, then enthusically celebrate that success. Encouraging self pride and reconising the progress.
Things like “I know it can be hard to get started but look at how well you have done that”
Move the rope to the next section.
Keep moving the rope around the room and remember to celebrate each clear section as you go. High five and champion their effort.
People do better when then feel good
If you sense their motivation is starting to deminish, layer on some gamification to make it fun.
Maybe they can guess how many items are in the section, you guess too and then you can see who is the closest. Counting as they put away also helps to keep the focus. Maybe you can set a timer for this section and see how long it will take.
The main idea is to break the task down it into small, visually achievable chunks and then add LOADS of positive encouragement.
Seeing the ‘clean’ spots appear also shows clear progress and helps to motivate and combat the “it’s too hard”, “it will take too long” feelings.
This short 1 min video demonstrates the skipping rope method for cleaning a room.