Here are some tried and true ways to encourage your child to clean up!
- Give your child a 5 minute warning and let them know they need to start wrapping up what they are doing
- Give your child another 1 minute warning that they are stopping soon.
- If time is not really an issue, let them work as long as they wish.
Clean Up Song: Choose a song that you like and your kids like and let them know they have until the song is done to clean up. Keeping the same song for a while will help them get a sense of how much time they have. Be clear about what cleaning you want them to do and have them sit down when they are finished. Celebrate/compliment when they are able to finish all cleaning up by the end of the song. Play the song again if they have not cleaned up completely.
Clean Up Count Down or Up: Tell your child you are counting down or up to a certain number and have them see if they can be cleaned up and sitting by the time you get there. Skip counting by 5s, 10s, or 2’s and starting and stopping on different numbers can make it fun and give them a new challenge. Celebrate when they make it and have them try again to another count down if they did not finish cleaning. Having them sit when they are done, helps keep them from getting to crazy even though they are hurrying.
Play Magic Trash/toy/clothes: A fun way to clean up is to tell the kids you have chosen a magic piece of trash, toy, clothing (whatever needs to be cleaned up). Tell them you are going to watch them clean up for 2 minutes and see if they can get the magic one. When two minutes have passed (give them more time if the room is not clean yet) tell them what the magic toy/trash/clothes was. Celebrate the person who got the magic piece. If your kids get super upset about who wins- you may need to set the expectation ahead of time that the winner is random and we are going to be happy for whoever gets it this time.
Have a Dirty Contest: Give each child or you and your child a wipe or damp rag/paper towel and set a timer for 1-3 minutes. Race to see who can get their rag the dirtiest by the end of that time. Before you start- specify anything that they should not wipe like art, breakable items, the floor, or electronics. Celebrate the winner! If your children are grumpy about competition, you can make the game more cooperative like “let’s work together to see how dirty we can get our rags”. Most kids can handle friendly competition when you explain your expectations for behavior ahead of time.