Teaching Kids: How to Clean

Teaching Kids to Clean Can Be Part of a Nanny’s Role

As children grow older and become more independent, parents often rely on their nannies to help teach children responsibility for themselves, their belongings and their environment. Some of the ways nannies do that is teaching children how to clean up after themselves and implementing a chore system.

When children are expected to help keep their home clean, it does more than ensure a child keeps his bedroom tidy. Children who feel that their contributions are needed and important to the successful functioning of the family have an increased level of self-esteem and a deeper connection to their family unit.

While a two-year-old should obviously not charged with scrubbing the shower with bleach, most toddlers can put their dirty clothes into a hamper, sort clean socks and even help wipe up small spills. While the maturity level may dictate how much cleaning a child can do independently, here are basic cleaning tasks children of each age group can do with proper instruction and encouragement.

Toddlers can help pick up their toys, put dirty clothing in the hamper, make their beds and even dust, with socks on their hands for dusters.

Preschoolers can help carry things from the car into the house, help put away groceries, set the table with supervision, help unload the silverware drawer and be responsible for giving the family pet food and water.

Elementary school aged children can vacuum their bedrooms with supervision, help fold laundry, put away their own laundry, unload the dishwasher and help mop the floors.

Middle school aged children can wash dishes, learn to use the washer and dryer with supervision, help rake leaves, empty the trash and prepare basic meals, like macaroni and cheese, on their own.

Teenagers can completely care for their rooms, keeping it clean and tidy and deep cleaning when necessary, help with yard work and prepare a family meal.

While teaching a child to pickup after himself is something that most every nanny will be responsible for teaching her charge, nannies should discuss the importance of chores with their employers. While the nanny may be responsible for creating, implementing and managing the chore system, nannies should work with parents to develop a strategy that not only suits the family’s values and lifestyle, but is one the parents fully support and are willing to help enforce.


10 Tips for Teaching Children to Help Out Around the House

Teaching children to care for their personal belongings and their family’s property is a huge lesson in responsibility. Children who grow up without having domestic responsibilities in the home often have an extremely difficult time maintaining a neat, clean and orderly enviornment when they leave home for college or their first apartment.

Here’s 10 tips parents and nannies can use for teaching children to help out around the house:

  1. Start Early – Learning to clean up after themselves and help out around the house is a concept that can’t be imparted too soon. Children who learn to pick up their toys and be a helper from an early age are much less likely to throw a tantrum or procrastinate about household responsibilities later in life.
  2. Keep Tasks Age-Appropriate – Understanding the physical limitations of little bodies is important; a kindergartener probably isn’t strong enough to handle a vacuum cleaner or control an unwieldy mop.
  3. Use Charts – Using a chart serves two purposes; it gives children a visual aid that acts as a checklist to help them remember their chores and it allows for stickers or other acknowledgments to document a successfully completed task.
  4. Explain the Purpose of Each Tool – It’s important to explain the purpose of all cleaning tools and supplies, even the ones that your child won’t be using. This is a great way to teach children about safely handling chemicals and choosing the right tool for the job.
  5. Let Younger Children “Help” At First – Instead of setting preschoolers loose with a list of chores, let them “help” you with simple tasks. While it can be tempting to redo a job your child assisted with, don’t. Doing so can kill any interest in helping out.
  6. Demonstrate Proper Methods – Showing a child how to properly clean a counter or make a bed is key; it may take several demonstrations before they’ve got the process down.
  7. Don’t Demand Perfection – Teaching young children to clean up should be viewed as an opportunity to instill solid habits rather than a method for lightening your own workload. Children aren’t likely to do the job perfectly the first time, or the first few times; it’s getting them in the habit of doing it that counts.
  8. Be Consistent – Kids need to see that it’s important to maintain a clean house, rather than fly into a cleaning frenzy in preparation for guests. Keeping tasks consistent and giving a child their own area of responsibility is one of the best ways to teach the importance of organization and order.
  9. Have Fun – Letting your hair down a bit and listening to music, singing along and dancing while doing chores is a great way to keep tasks fun, rather than creating an atmosphere of dread when cleaning time approaches.
  10. Check Their Work – Once kids are cleaning on their own, you should still make a habit of checking their work. If it’s done improperly when you know that they’re capable of handling a task, gently pointing out areas that need more work is much more effective than taking a tyrannical stance.

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