6 Tear-Free Ways to Get Kids to Clean

One thing I’m asked regularly is how to get kids to do their chores. I avoided answering this question for a long time because chores with kids is tough, especially when the parents (re: me) aren’t perfect at maintaining a clean home, either.

But something I’ve learned is that while my kids and I aren’t perfect, we can make progress, and that progress makes a huge positive difference in our home!

Here are 6 ways I’ve learned to get kids to clean, sans tears:


1) Talk about what’s expected.

Needing to put dirty clothes in the hamper may seem like common sense to us, but it’s not always obvious to our kids. So make sure they know what is expected. You can do this by posting a simple chore chart, having a family meeting, and offering frequent gentle reminders.


2) Show how to complete a chore.

It’s important to make sure our kids really know how to accomplish a task, and teaching chore completion is usually best done in 4 steps:

  • Have your child watch you do the chore.
  • Instruct your child to help you complete the chore.
  • Allow your child to lead while you assist with the chore.
  • Child does chore unassisted (don’t forget to check their work!).


3) Keep tasks manageable.

Have you ever walked into a room, felt incredibly overwhelmed, and walked right back out? Me too! Sometimes our kids feel the same way and need help breaking down tasks.

For example, instead of just saying, “Clean your room,” try offering step-by-step guidance such as, “Put your shoes in the closet.” When they finish, you can tell them to place their dirty clothes in the hamper. Keep going until the room is clean.

Offer lots of praise and gentle redirection along the way!


4) Teach by example.

When I was recently lamenting to my husband that our kids left their shoes and bags all over the kitchen again, he gently told me that I leave my shoes and purse out nearly every day too. Ouch!

He was right though and went on to say that our children will never learn to develop good cleaning habits if the example they’re seeing is to dump everything on a table.

The same goes with the rest of the house – do our kids see us leaving the kitchen a mess after we’re done cooking? If so, why would they think they need to clean up their stuff when they’re finished with it?!

We need to remember that regardless of the chores we assign our actions are setting a huge example, so let’s make sure we’re working to set a good one. {Check out the private Tidy Up Club on Facebook if you need a little extra accountability in this area.}


5) Follow through on appropriate consequences.

If steps 1-4 are followed and you’re still having trouble getting your kids to clean, then it’s time to take things a bit further by giving appropriate consequences.

For example, the children who didn’t put their toys away before a bedtime story may need to miss the story so they can finish cleaning. The kid who complains about taking their plate to the sink can earn a week of dinnertime dish duty so they can practice completing the chore with a good attitude.

Children are quick learners and when they see that their actions have real consequences, it’s amazing how efficiently they can work!

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6) Stay consistent and diligent.

Being a parent is tough sometimes, but we need to persevere!

It does often takes more time to train our kids than it takes to clean something alone, but we need to remind ourselves that we’re training our little ones for adulthood and if we want them to succeed later, we need to teach them today.

What tear-free tips would you add to this list of how to get your kids to help clean?




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