Your child is capable of many different chores by age four.
It's never too early to start teaching your child to clean up after himself. Learning to clean teaches children self-sufficiency, cooperation and responsibility. Becoming a contributing member of a household boosts a child's sense of pride and self-worth. Think your little angel is too young to help out? If your child is old enough to get up and get one of his toys, then he's old enough to put it away when he's finished with it.
1Set a good example, as 4-year-olds still largely learn by modeling the behavior of those around them. Everyone in the house should be responsible about cleaning up after themselves and contributing to the household chores. The more accepted it is as a part of living in your home, the less your child will question the request.
2Organize your child’s things so that there is no confusion about where things go. Her toys and art supplies should be in cubbies or containers within her reach. Use pictures, labels or stickers to display what goes where to make organization.
3Remind your child to clean up throughout the day. After he undresses, remind him to pick up his clothes or put away his shoes. After he plays a game, remind him to gather it up and put it away. Reminders will make cleaning up a habit.
4Be cheerful when you remind your child that it’s time to clean up. Saying in a bossy tone, “You better clean up your mess or you’re not going to the playground!” is more likely to upset your child and stir rebellion. Instead, invite him with a more positive outlook: “it’s time for us to clean up! If we finish quickly we can have a few more minutes at the playground today!”
5Play some music or sing a song to make cleanup a pleasant chore. Race against the clock, or slam-dunk the laundry into the hamper. Joke around a little bit and make it special time spent together.
6Communicate your expectations clearly and specifically. Saying, “clean up your room” is too ambiguous; your child may not understand your expectations. Rather, say, “It’s time to pick up all the toys on the floor and put them back on their shelves.” After the child does that, you can add more specific instructions, such as, “now let’s make the bed,” or, “here’s a wet rag for you to wipe those pudding fingerprints off the wall.”
7Let your child try to do things for herself. She may not make the bed or fold her shirt as well as you can, but that’s no reason to brush her aside and take over for her. Your preschooler accomplishing something herself is far more important than her bed having perfect hospital corners. As long as she gets into the habit of doing the chore, her technique will improve.
8Praise your child liberally for a job well done. Deep down, kids are eager to please. If they know their behavior makes you happy, that is powerful incentive for them to keep it up.
Things You'll Need
- Cubbies, cabinets, bins
- Labels or stickers