8 Easy Methods to Teach Your Child to Clean Their Room (+ 4 Week Plan)

Get your child to finally clean their room every day!

Mama, is your child forgetting to clean their room, no matter how many times you remind them?

I have twins and while my daughter dutifully does her chores and makes her bed every day, my son seems to forget this task and needs constant reminding.

As a busy work from home mom, I ain’t having that!

There is no time for nagging!

To help get your child wanting to clean their room, here are three reasons why it’s not happening, some easy methods to start getting your child to clean their room and a four week plan to get your child cleaning their room once and for all!

3 Reasons Why Your Child Doesn’t Clean Their Room

Do you cringe walking into your child’s room because you fear you might step on a lego? Ouch!

There are three reasons why your child’s room is a disaster zone and why they don’t clean it up.

  1. The amount of stuff they have to clean is overwhelming.
  2. They don’t know how to clean and organize their room because they haven’t fully developed their executive functioning (Planning, Time Management, Focusing, and Organizing) skills yet.
  3. The expectation that they need to clean frequently and why may not have been shared with them enough or in the right way.

You might have one or all three of these issues working against you. Whatever the roadblocks are for you, this reaons will help you get started in the right direction.

1. They Need Less Stuff Out at a Time

When my twins were young they had a lot of toys.

If you saw any pictures of their room you will see a 3 drawer cart that’s full of games, little toys, and art supplies. And the colorful fabric bins bulging with books and toys.

By most standards this is what a semi-organized child’s room sounds like. Right?

There’s a place for everything and every thing… not in it’s place!

Because if you’ve ever had bins and drawers full of kid stuff, you know that it doesn’t stay nice for long.

All the kid things get dumped out and then all the kid things get scattered throughout the entire house. And in a few days, your child will literally walk over all their things complaining about how bored they are.

It is so frustrating!

But you know what? It’s frustrating for them too.

They want to play, but when the toys are everywhere they don’t see toys, they just see piles.

The goal is to help your kids be able to play and enjoy their toys more without adding more frustration and maintenance for you.

Have you considered putting your kids’ toys into a rotational system?

This has worked wonders for my family because it keeps the toys exciting and fun but there are less toys out at any given time so there is less mess happening.

Each of these bags contains a collection. My twins get out one toy collection at a time and I store the rest in my garage.

They put all the toys from their current collection in a toy bin in their room and pick them up regularly. When they get bored they swap their current collection for a new one. It works brilliantly!

My twins are always excited to get out some “new” toys. They will play with them for hours every day for about four days. Then I know it’s time to switch them out again.

To learn more about creating a toy rotation system, check out this post.

Your children will thrive in a clean play area and the same is true for clothing clutter. They will find exactly what clothes they need when they have only what fits and is in season in their closet.

2. You Need to Teach Them How to Clean

Cleaning a room is a multi-step process. For someone who is still developing their executive functioning skills this is an impossible business.

To clean a room you have to plan how to clean it up, you have to use time management skills to get it done quickly and orderly, you have to focus, and you have to know where everything goes.

Little kids, even older kids sometimes, simply can’t do these things yet.

The multi-step process alludes them, they get overwhelmed and they give up, despite the pleadings of their parent.

Once you’ve already organized your child’s room for them, that helps them with the executive functioning of organization. Now you need to show them where everything goes.

Help them to see the organization. Point out how easy it is to find and put away everything now that it’s organized.

Then you can teach them how to clean their room.

You do this by modeling it for them and giving them a visual reminder. 

When you physically show them how and give them a visual to look at, it does the hard mental-processing work for them.

They know that step one is to put all the toys in the toy bin and books on the book shelf.

Then they know that next they are to pick up any clothes and put them in the laundry basket. Then they can pick up any trash they see and throw it away. Finally, they know that they should make their bed.

It’s a simple four step process and the poster helps them to understand it and follow along.

They won’t get overwhelmed anymore because they can see at a glance that it really is that simple, especially when they are cleaning their room frequently.

3. Your Child Needs Good Habits

The last reason why your child can’t clean their room is that there is no understood expectation about when and how much to clean it up.

They might know that they should keep it clean, but what really happens is everyone lets it get to an insane, unmanageable level of unkempt before you make any demands to get it under control.

What if instead, you taught your child to clean their room every day? Just a quick tidying up that takes only five minutes?

Then it becomes totally doable.

To teach your child this great daily habit you can reinforce it with proper rewards and consequences. For me, I use a reward chart. If they clean their room, they get a sticker on their reward chart.

After ten stickers they get a reward of their choosing. If they don’t clean their room, they don’t earn a sticker. 

Creating a habit like that is easy for them when you can make it an easy and quick part of their routine and give them the proper motivation to get it done.

8 Easy Ways to Get Your Child to Clean Their Room

Okay, so we covered why your child may not be cleaning their room, now let’s switch gears and look at some easy ways you can get your child to clean their room.

1. Clean Their Room With Them

First, as the parent, clean your child’s room with your child. Use labels so it’s easy for your child to find their things.

You want to help your child get acquainted with how it is now organized.

Explain to them that everything in their room has a home and when we clean up we are helping all the items go back to where they live.

Then show them where everything lives and how we know where they go because of the pictures on each label.

2. Let Your Child Play and Enjoy

Then let your child play for the day and have fun in their nice clean room.

You want them to get to know their environment and realize where their things are in their room.

3. Introduce The Rule

At the end of the day ask them what they thought about having a clean space to play in today.

Then announce that it’s time to clean up so that tomorrow they can have a clean play area too. Tell them that you will be cleaning up the room every day so it stays clean and fun.

At this time you can create a visual schedule of the steps involved:

  • Step 1: gather up toys
  • Step 2: find the proper bin/basket
  • Step 3: place toys in bin/basket
  • Step 4: return bin/basket to its home

Reassure them that you are going to help them clean up the first few times as practice.

4. Model A Clean Room

Keep your room, your office, and the rest of the house clean with an organization system. Use labels as you did in your child’s room to show your child that this system is being used and works.

5. Praise as You Work Together

Praise your child for their efforts as they help clean their room.

Continue asking them what step is next and then showing them how it’s done until all of the steps are complete.

Older kids:

For older children, show them the clean room checklist and work together as a team to get it done. Praise them for their efforts.

Now would be a great time to discuss why we need to take responsibility for our things and to keep our rooms clean so they don’t get too overwhelming and frustrating to clean.

6. Establish a Routine

Clean their room with your child once every day around the same time each day until they can do it on their own. This might take days or it might take weeks depending on the age and understanding of your child.

Once they can do it on their own give them their “clean room chore chart” and explain the reward system.

Let them help you decide on the rewards and consequences so they are more likely to follow through and be excited about the system.

Kids ages 3 & 4:

While I do recommend starting this when your child is at least 3, keep in mind that a 3 or 4 year old will need more direction and motivation to stay on task.

By doing it with them you are setting the expectation and training them to develop their own executive functioning skills.

In a year or two they will be capable of doing it all on their own, and who wouldn’t love to have a 5 or 6 year old that cleaned their room on their own every day? Trust me, it will be worth it.

7. Remind Your Child

Once they are responsible for cleaning their room for themselves you will still need to remind them and give them a reward or consequence until it becomes a habit for them. Remind them every day that it’s time to clean their rooms.

Try to do this around the same time every day.

You can use something you already are doing every day as the trigger so you can build this new habit into a routine.

For instance, say your kids get home from school, have a snack, and an hour of screen time. You could instead say, they have to clean their room before screen time.

Habits stick better when they are built into a routine we already have.

8. Create New Habits

Eventually (in a few months) they will have cleaning their room down as a habit and as a clear expectation. When this happens you can add to their responsibilities.

You can begin to work on giving them a new habit to master, such as putting away laundry.

Now that they know where their clothes go and they are already tidying, this is a natural addition. Then you can reward or give a consequence for cleaning their room AND putting away their freshly cleaned laundry.

In time you can teach them how to vacuum or mop their room and add that into their routine.

And as the responsibilities grow, so do the privileges and rewards. This should happen slowly and naturally. Focus on consistency first.

4 Week Plan to Help Your Child Clean Their Room on a Routine

Imagine your child cleaning their room every day in just a few minutes, without putting up a fight about it.

Does that sound like a dream?

In just four weeks, this can be your reality.

Here is the overview and what you can expect from each week.

Your Transformation Goal

In the next 4 weeks you will transform your home.

The children’s toys, books, and clothes that are scattered on the floors and bulging out of closets now will soon be decluttered, organized, and labeled.

Then you can begin to train your child so they can care for their own things and keep their room tidy- without putting up a fight.

And best of all, your child will have a fun and clear space to play in and enjoy!

Week 1: Toys and Books

This is the week you will set the foundation for your child being able to clean their own room by decluttering, organizing, and labeling all of their toys.

Week 2: Clothing

During week two you make certain your child’s closets only contain what they need and can fit into.

You will also label everything so things stay where they belong and can be easily found.

Week 3: Training

You have finished all the preparatory work now.

Your child’s toys are tidy and ready to rotate, their books have been pruned back, and their closets have been made ultra-functional. You want to be able to keep it that way and for your child to be able to maintain it on their own.

This week is all about teaching them how to care for their things by first modeling and then letting them take charge.

Week 4: Daily Upkeep

This is the week that you have been working for. You have cleaned. You have decluttered. You have labeled. You have trained.

Now it is time to pass the torch to your child so that they can carry on with the daily cleaning on their own.

Your only job this week is to continue to remind them of their task and deal out a reward or consequence depending on if they completed their clean room checklist or not.

A Clean Room

There ya go! I hope your child starts cleaning their room! Give the four week challenge a go!

Over to you – does your toddler or child clean their room? What worked for you?