Getting kids to clean their rooms is a challenge at any age. However, a clean room builds a disciplined life, as well as increasing the overall quality of one’s life, so I believe it’s a challenge worth accepting.
When my oldest turned three a few months ago, I decided it was time to give her some responsibility.
She is expected to straighten her room in the morning and again at bedtime.
Sound like a headache? It’s actually not bad. We only spend about 5 minutes on this per day. Here are the keys to our success.
How to Get a 3-Year-Old to Clean Her Room
- Supervision. She needs me to supervise her and provide step by step directives.
- Systematic. Everything she does to clean is very systematic. In fact, we say the “steps” out loud together, almost like a cleaning chant. For example, to make her bed we say 1) Take everything off. 2) Pull up the sheet. 3) Pull up the quilt. 4) Put the pillows on.
- Simple. This is probably the biggest key to our success. She has very few total things in her room. It’s mostly just glorious space. She has a bed and chair, a trunk of dress-up clothes, one drawer of toys, and one shelf of books. Any three year old could straighten that, don’t you think?
- Routine. We “neaten” at the same times everyday: when she gets dressed in the morning and when she changes into her pajamas at night. These are two times when I know we will be together in her room. We also do it in a set order: make the bed (in the morning only), books on bookshelf, toys in drawer, clothes in hamper, trash to kitchen trashcan. And then we celebrate a neat room!
- Don’t worry about perfection. It doesn’t have to be perfect, especially for a young child. Keep your goals in mind. It’s not ultimately about a clean room, but about building a disciplined life for your child and giving him or her independence and a feeling of success. So if my daughter does it imperfectly, I try not to correct things too much. (Although she does need to help them with some tasks at this age).
If you’re child is struggling to keep his room clean, consider moving things out of of there to set him up for success.
Then create a daily “straightening” routine for him and supervise it. You will enjoy the benefits of training your child in this way for years to come.