How often does this happen to you? You ask your children to clean their rooms, and when you go to check on them, you find that they have done almost nothing. It happens to me all the time, and it’s one of my major frustrations as a parent. It’s time to solve the problem! Have you stopped to think that the kids aren’t cleaning because they don’t know where to start?
I just finished reading, “A House United: Changing Children’s Hearts and Behavior by Teaching Self-Government,” by Nicholeen Peck. (I’ve linked you to her website.) I am on the road to getting my family better under control, and I am so excited to share what I’m learning with you.
When it comes to getting things done, we are not all created equal! Some of us are LINE DRIVERS, and some of us are ROAD MAKERS. ROAD MAKERS see a problem and push forward to create a solution. LINE DRIVERS like to do things right. They want instructions.
When asked to clean his room, a ROAD MAKER child may be able to walk into his room and devise a plan to get it done. That does not mean, however, that he will do it right. He may put things away correctly, but he may also just stuff things under the bed or in his closet. (He won’t have trouble getting started, but he may need some reminders to do things correctly.)
When asked to clean her room, a LINE DRIVER might plop down in the middle of the room feeling overwhelmed–not knowing how in the world to get started. Once she’s told what to do, she’ll be able to get started, and she will likely do the job well. (She wants to do it right, but she needs to be taught how to do it.)
I haven’t quite figured my kids out completely, but when it comes to cleaning their rooms, my kids seem to be LINE DRIVERS. Since they haven’t learned to keep their rooms clean (another teaching opportunity on my list) the task is too overwhelming, and they just don’t know where to start. It’s time to start teaching!
Are you ready for a dose of my reality? Here’s what Boo and Lu’s room looked like this Saturday morning, and week two of our new room cleaning solution. I wish I had a picture of week 1. Since the floor was barely visible, it’s no wonder they didn’t know how to begin!
Based on how I clean my own room, I created a step-by-step plan to teach children how to clean their rooms. (The steps are simple, but you may have to teach other skills within each step.)
Step 1: Make your bed
For my kids, this means sweeping the junk onto the floor, folding the blankets, and rearranging their pillows and stuffed animals.
Step 2: 5-Minute Sort
The first week–when the room was a complete disaster–we put clothes on the bottom bunk, things that stayed in their room in one basket, and things that belonged in another room in another basket. It took us 11 minutes to do the first five-minute sort. The kids didn’t quite understand what to do, and they were not motivated to do it.
The second week–when the room was messy, but much more manageable–we put clothes on the bottom bunk, toys in one basket, and shoes and books in the other basket. The five-minute sort took exactly five minutes, and the girls loved getting it done as quickly as possible. They knew what to do, and they understood that it would help them get their room clean quickly.
When the sort is complete, there should be nothing left on the floor. (This is a great time to pick up the tiny garbage that wasn’t noticeable under the junk.)
Step 3: Put Away
Start with one pile (we usually start with the clothes), and put things where they belong. If your children don’t know how to hang up clothes or put things in their drawers the right way, this is a good time to teach them. When one pile is finished, move on to the next until the room is clean. (If you have a road maker child, be sure to follow up to make sure that their things are put away in the right places! If you teach them where their things belong, then they avoid getting into trouble when they put things away “creatively.”)
Doing it Alone
How soon the kids can do this alone will depend on the child and the child’s age. My kids have now gone through the steps twice. This week, I plan to print the chart and challenge them to do it on their own. I don’t expect that the little ones will be quite ready yet, but I’ll be watching from the hallway, ready to praise them every step of the way! Don’t you perform better when someone notices your hard work? So will your kids.
The Bottom Line
Whether your kids are line drivers or road makers, they need to be taught how to do a job right! Knowing what to do will free the line drivers from anxiety, and it will give the road makers a guide for appropriate solutions. (Your road maker might rearrange the steps, but he’ll know how to get an acceptable result.)
Try it at Your House!
Want to try this with your kids? I’ve created a visual reminder for the kids to use until they are comfortable doing the job on their own. Two sizes are included: Half sheet and 3″x5″. I’ll be making more cards as the kids learn more jobs.
Thanks for visiting!
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