How many moms and dads are out there that dread going into their child’s room because it’s a disaster? You may tell them “Go clean your room!”, but to no avail.
Do you end up doing it yourself or closing the door and leaving it a mess?
How to Teach Your Child to Actually Keep Their Bedroom Clean
I’m going to show you how to successfully teach your child to clean their bedroom and keep it that way. First, I will show you a picture of my son’s room (as proof).
No, he doesn’t have a beautifully decorated, perfect bedroom like you see browsing moms on Instagram. And, I’m not a professional photographer so I just snapped this picture with my phone. I am also not an interior designer.
But this is a real kid with a real bedroom.
This is real life.
This is where he sleeps and spends his free time.
So there’s his room. That’s him on the bed playing video games, and he keeps his room this way with very minimal help from me.
Why is it so hard for kids to clean their rooms?
The reason it seems so difficult for a child, especially a child with autism or ADHD, to clean their room is actually quite simple. They do not yet have the executive functioning skills to do it.
Cleaning your room involves several executive functioning skills:
What makes it more challenging, is that what needs to be done to clean the room may be different every time. Depending on what the mess is, the process of cleaning the room won’t always be the same.
So your child needs to be able to look at their room, mentally note what’s out of place, and make a plan for how to clean it. This can be extremely overwhelming. I mean, there have been times where his room has been overwhelming to me.
How to Teach Your Child to Clean Their Bedroom
I have three tips that will simplify the process of cleaning, giving your
1. Show The Steps Involved
First of all, break down all the steps they must do in order to “clean their room”. So this may be: pick up toys, put away laundry, and put books away. Or, it might be: pick up dirty laundry, take dishes out to the kitchen, and put blankets on the bed. Whatever it may be, breaking it down will take away some of the overwhelm.
Using a visual to show the steps is the best way to remind your kiddo what needs to be done. I’ve created a free printable PDF which includes 10+ visuals and a page to place them so you can create a unique visual for each time you want your kiddo to clean up their bedroom.
2. Use Labels
Labeling your child’s dresser so they know where each item of clothing belongs is a quick and easy way to take the guesswork out of putting away clothes for them.
My son is 7 and even though his clothes have never moved, he still couldn’t remember what went in each drawer when he was putting them away. That was until I labeled them. Which might seem hard for an adult to understand but it’s true.
Now, he’s able to put his clothes away on his own – and he’s also able to get his own clothes when he’s getting dressed in the morning without my help. Win-Win.
Now, I’m no artist, but I made these labels myself on index cards and attached them to the dresser.
You should use labels for anything else in your child’s room that needs organizing. Toy bins, legos, books, movies, etc.
You can also download various toy bin labels here.
3. Make a “Jig”
If your kid’s stuff just seems to randomly be all over the place, try this. Making a “jig” is basically like making a little puzzle to show your child where everything in their bedroom belongs so they can put items back in the right place.
- Trace the item on a piece of construction paper.
- Cut it out and tape the construction paper down where the item belongs.
- If necessary, include a visual of the object for your child.
- Show them place the object on top of the construction paper to keep it in its rightful place.
This is how I set up my son’s dresser so he’s able to keep it neat and tidy.
Get Rid of the Clutter
Does your child have a lot of clutter and toys in their room?
The more “stuff” your child has laying around, the more difficult it will be for them to keep their own room clean. It also makes it more overwhelming when cleaning. Clutter is also a known cause of anxiety, so it’s important to keep clutter to a minimum.
The task of decluttering is usually left up to the parents. However, you can teach your children how to declutter and give them the freedom to do it on their own.
Consider completing a de-clutter challenge, first. Once the clutter in your child’s room is minimized, they’ll have an easier time managing their belongings.