How Do I Motivate My Daughter to Clean Up After Herself?

My daughter is old enough to clean up after herself, but I feel like no matter how much I ask her she never listens. How do I motivate her to clean up after herself? – Danica

It’s important to remind ourselves as adults what is age appropriate for any youth. Ideally we would always want to envision our children as being capable of doing anything we ask as soon as we ask it, but we have to look at the situation as a whole with an open mind. Is my daughter struggling to do as I ask because perhaps the task seems too big and she doesn’t know where to start? Are there too many distractions around her that are eliminating her ability to stay focused? Are you leading by example?

Many times a child will observe a specific behaviour from a parent, such as avoidance, and mimic it throughout their daily lives into activities such as cleaning or problem avoidance.

Try thinking about what motivates your child. Is it time on electronics? Or is it special outings, such as a movie at the end of the week or a special game? Think of ways your daughter can earn these motivators and keep track of her progress with stickers or popsicle sticks.

Motivation is a great way to help move your daughter through the tasks she doesn’t typically enjoy doing, and as she grows she’ll become capable of doing tasks without much prompting.

If your child is refusing to clean her room, set a consequence from the beginning such as taking all the toys off the floor and putting them in your room. In order to get them back, she’ll have to earn them back one at a time by completing other chores. This will teach her the value of keeping things tidy. Remember, though, a consequence is to teach a lesson. It should never be to make yourself feel better or to punish the child.

When a child is struggling to participate in an activity they are being requested to do, whether it be cleaning or a positive behaviour, it is best to lead by example or, for the first time, do the activity with the child.

– Sam, CTH Program Coordinator

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