We tried to make cleaning fun from the time the kids were very little.
I used to work with kiddos with autism and, from my Behavior Analysis background, I knew that high praise and making it enjoyable was the key. We’ve found a few ways to get the kids to cleanup without them realizing it’s a chore, and it makes things much easier!
These are the top three ways I’ve found to get the kids to love cleaning.
Create a Game
One of the best ways I found to get my little ones to clean up at a very young age was to make a game out of it.
Our favorite game was a scavenger hunt. When they were very young, this was a way of teaching things, such as functions, features, and class. I would grab a bin and tell them, “find me something (green, that flies, that has a face)” and they would find it and put it in the bin. It was a great teaching moment and they had a lot of fun.
Teach them a New Job and Go Crazy with Praise!
Just today, I worked with my little ones on clearing their plates and loading the dishwasher. They are little, so it’s a lengthy process. Instead of saying, “rinse your plate and put it in the diswasher,” we broke it down into small steps and they got a lot of praise for completing each one.
We broke it down into each individual step to keep them successful, and give me plenty of opportunities for praise.
Here’s how we broke it down: bring a chair from the table to the sink, get your plate/bowl, set them on the counter, climb up on the chair, turn on the water, rinse dishes, turn off the water, place dishes on the counter, climb down, open the dishwasher, pull out the rack, put items where they belong, close dishwasher, and push chair back to the table.
See! Lots of steps, but I taught them each one so they wouldn’t have a chance to feel unsure or get frustrated. At each step they were praised and we made a huge deal of it at the end! At 3 and 4, they love to hear that they are doing a big kid job, and I made sure to show them how proud I was that they could complete each step.
Make it Fun and Active
Our favorite way to clean, for both the kids and myself, is to make it a Dance Party!
We crank the music up loud and move around the living room putting things away. The music gets us up and active, gives us the chance to release some energy, and makes us move a bit faster. We have a lot of fun!
Our go-to music for our cleaning dance party has always been the Sesame Street Live Make a New Friend soundtrack. If you haven’t listened to it – it’s perfect! The kiddos love recognizing the familiar characters and the songs are upbeat and super catchy. I mean, c’mon, who can resist “I’ve got the mo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-oves like Bert?” I totally recommend seeing the show as well and you can see my Sesame Street Live review here. If you’re a fellow Minnesotan, it’s coming this weekend!
I love that the kiddos have fun, get actives, and I’m working myself out of a job by teaching them to clean up after themselves. Win, Win… Win!
How do you get your kiddos to tidy up?
What do you guys use for a dance party?