Motivating Kids to Help Clean Up

Motivating Kids to Help Clean Up


No one likes chores, but for kids the request to clean their room or fold laundry can be met with dramatic eye rolling, loud sighs and cries of “Aw, mom, do I have to?” Use these ten tips to help get your child motivated to do their chores.

Define clearly what “clean” means.

If, for example, you tell your child to clean up after dinner, make sure he knows exactly what that includes such clearing the table, putting away food, and putting dishes in the dishwasher.

Make sure there is a specific place for everything in your child’s room.

To help your kids keep their rooms clean, provide them with boxes and bins. You can even color code the boxes so that kids know that toys go in the green box and dirty clothes go in the yellow box.

Sticker charts can be a great motivator.

Add a fun sticker every time your child follows through with a task. When your child earns a certain number of stickers, then reward him or her with a special treat.

Use task-oriented consequences.

Along with rewards, you can also use consequences by, for example, putting a privilege on hold until the task is done. So if you decide that the day’s big task is to put all the clothes up, the game machine is on hold until that’s done.

Do chores together.

This is especially important when you are introducing your child to a new chore. Work with your child to show them how the task is done. As they master the chore, you can put on some music and sing or dance as you complete the chore.

Resist the urge to do chores for your child.

If your child is old enough to do a certain chore such as cleaning her room or fixing her breakfast, don’t do the chore for her. Doing it for her actually works against you. It shows your child that if she resists you enough you will give in and do it yourself. Sure, doing it yourself might seem easier, but in the long run it will simply contribute to your child’s lack of motivation around this chore and others.

Keep the amount of stuff your kids have down.

If your kids have enough of what they need, think hard before buying that new pair of tennis shoes. Or, if you do buy them, make a rule that an old pair needs to be donated or passed along. Alternately, have periodical sorting days where the unused items get systematically given away or thrown out.

Give your kids some autonomy.

Let your kids have input into chores by, for example, asking them “Would you rather vacuum or wash the dishes?” Gentle suggestions such as, “It would be extremely helpful if you…” can also work. The more independent kids feel, the more motivated they will be to do chores.

Make your kids feel needed.

Encourage and praise your child for helping by saying things such as “Thank you for helping out. We make a great team.” Give high fives or two thumbs when your kids help out with no complaints.

Switch up routines.

Doing the same chore every week can be boring enough for adults but for kids it can start to become dreaded. Switch the types of tasks, for example. Or get creative—have your children clean their sibling’s room instead of their own.

How do you get your kids to help with chores?

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