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How to Get Kids to Clean Up After Themselves

By Lisa Mooney ; Updated June 13, 2017

Their rooms are disasters. You will find dirty clothes on the floor, toys scattered everywhere and unidentifiable food stuffs on plates shoved under the beds. Kids can be slobs and parents can drive themselves crazy trying to get their offspring to clean up after themselves. All the nagging, cajoling and threatening in the world do not seem to help. Children have an inordinate ability to tune out whatever their parents want them to hear. Learn some effective techniques for getting your kids to pay attention and shape up.

  1. Set up your home so it is easy for your kids to clean up after themselves. You can do this by making sure every item has a home. For example, you may want to invest in bins, under bed drawers, laundry baskets, shelving and racks.

  2. Initiate a kick-off cleaning day in which you assign chores to your children and insist they get done. Take away digital music players, computers, video games and every other privilege until the entire house is clean. Explain to your kids they will have to clean up after themselves so the home can stay tidy.

  3. Make a schedule in which children have certain responsibilities when they get up in the morning, after school and before bed. For instance, in the mornings they may have to make their beds, put up their breakfast dishes and straighten their bathrooms after they get ready for school. Put your schedule in writing so the kids know exactly what is expected.

  4. Take away privileges when your children fail to clean up. Be firm and consistent. If you tell your son he cannot go to the movies on Saturday because he didn't pick up after himself during the week, don't go back on your word and let him go. Likewise, resist the temptation to compromise by allowing him to clean on Saturday morning and then go out as he will develop a pattern of not cleaning until it garners him a reward.

  5. Be adamant about your children learning to pick up after themselves. Do not let the house get out of hand before blowing up at the kids and demanding action. Instead, stay on top of things so that cleaning becomes part of their everyday lives. You will not have to nag at them any more because tidying up will have become automatic.

  6. Offer praise for a job well done and discuss a reward program, such as allowance or extra privileges when the kids maintain their responsibilities.

  7. Tip

    If your children are young, put pictures of items on the bins they belong in so it will be easy for the little ones to stay organized when they put up their toys.

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