A Technique To Help Children Clean Up After Themselves

A technique to master the art of clean up time

Children are messy. They get paint on the walls, their toys all over the floor, crayons on the table, you name it. “How many times do I have to tell you!” you might hear a parent scream after multiple failed attempts to have their child pick up their toy dinosaurs. It can be very frustrating, but in my office I use a little technique and I think it can benefit others that want their kid to clean up quickly. I call it “The race to clean this place”. Okay, maybe the title needs some work but I swear it is very effective.

Here’s a picture from the dollhouse in my office. What a disaster!


Here’s how to do it:

  • Grab yourself a timer. I use my phone because it’s easier
  • Set the timer for the appropriate amount of time. Two minutes seems to be good for small messes
  • Inform the child that they have to clean up everything before the timer goes off and the time ends
  • Start timer and watch them clean! Cheer them on as well!
  • Implement small reinforcers for successful attempts. This can be daily or weekly.

And that’s basically it. Nice and simple right? I promise you it works.
I like using weekly reinforcers for this because it is easier and less demanding, but younger children might require daily reinforcers (like getting to choose an activity later) because their attention spans are shorter. That reinforcement needs to me more immediate to stick.

So try this out, hopefully it works for you too.
If you have another effective technique that you use, let us know in the comments!

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