Teaching Children to Clean
So many times parents wait to give chores to their children when they are much older. The best way to train your children to clean house is to start from the time they learn to walk. And even before they can walk you can talk to them about the work you are doing and what is the best way to get it done. Many studies show that children can learn to read or learn a foreign language in their infancy. It is never too early to start teaching them how to clean house as well!
I know that when I was very small my own mother would sit me near her as she was cooking or baking in the kitchen and she shared each step with me. She would also take all of us from room to room with her as she cleaned and she talked about everything she was doing. Now even though I do not recall these conversations as they took place at the time I know that I these experiences are stored in my mind. I have always known, almost instinctively, the best way to dust furniture, bake a cake, to clean a tub, etc.
Starting from the time your child can walk you can find chores that they can do. Picking up their own toys and putting them back into the toy box for example. Putting away their own clothes in the dresser or helping you to carry a few dirty clothes to the laundry room. These are things that babies can easily achieve. If you wait until they get older and more responsible, they will most likely at this point rebel against the idea of cleaning. Starting them out early making it just another natural part of life (and it is) will give them the skills they need in their adult years. It will also ensure that you as the parents will not have the entire responsibility of cleaning the home. I personally know families with teenagers and adult children that take no responsibility for the home and the parents are working and have the entire responsibility for the home as well. This should never be the case, it is not fair, but if you wait to train your children when you think they are old enough then you may find yourself in the same situation.
There are some really clever charts I have seen in several different posts lately about age appropriate chores for children. You could search the internet for these charts or just sit down and write down all the chores that need to be done in the house from the smallest on up. Write down your child’s or children’s names and start writing age appropriate chores under their names. Yes, you will need to spend a little more time in the beginning supervising and teaching but it will be well worth your time when you witness the results. Start them off small and work your way up to bigger and bigger challenges as they age. In the beginning you can work side by side with the children to train them and encourage them but as they advance in skill they can be left to work on their own.
Some people say that they have charts with stars and rewards for chores. Some children get allowances if they do their chores. Even though I do believe in giving children allowances I have never believed in giving it to them for doing their chores. I feel like everyone who lives in the home should be responsible for it and that their reward is a clean and nurturing environment. In my opinion the allowance should not be for doing the chores but instead for personal responsibility for their lives. Not just doing their chores but doing them with a good attitude. Being responsible for their homework and doing their best in school (which of course is different for each individual). One child may be an A student while the other brings home a B in a few subjects but you know they are doing their best.
And children should not just be taught to do their chores. They should also be taught to see a need and meet it. How many times have we all seen a child or even an adult for that matter walk right over something that needs to be picked up and put away or thrown away? Or you may be carrying in a lot of groceries and no one offers to help. This type of instruction is so very important for children to get early in life. We are only hurting our children when we do not give them proper training in thinking of others and noticing small things that need to be done and doing them. When they enter the workforce they will have a hard time adapting to being a team member and working with others if they do not receive the proper training at home.
Cleanliness is a big part of life and something that can not be ignored. As parents we need to look at it for what it is, a life skill, something that our children need to become successful independent adults. We only make it easier for them by starting them out from the beginning. Chores are not a punishment but a very important part of life.
Rachael Cherry is a wife, mother, and writer who is passionate about helping connect families in need with high quality caregivers. She has taken that passion and put it to work through NannyPro, a respected online nanny referral service. Learn more by visiting @NannyPro on Twitter.