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Tricks to Get Your Kids to Help Clean Up
Experts advise ParentDish that kids who can walk are old enough to take on simple tasks such as putting toys away or stacking books on a shelf. Aviva Pflock, child-development expert and co-author of "Mommy Guilt: Learn to worry less, focus on what matters most and raise happier kids," says toddlers respond well when you make tidying up a game. Another tip: Keep it simple.
"The key with young kids is to make it easy for them to be successful helpers," says Pflock, a Colorado mom of three. "Large bins to toss toys into rather than perfectly organized cubbies are much more likely to be utilized with minimal frustrations. Likewise, a book shelf that allows for stacking -- instead of binding out, right-side up, sorted by size, author or subject matter -- is more likely to actually have books on it than on the floor in front of it."
Preschoolers do better when they are likely to be successful, but also are ready for more challenging tasks, she adds. This age group is ready to set the table, sort socks or even fold dish towels at laundry time. Encourage mommy's little helpers to put their toys away, in a matter that is conducive to future use.
"Pens should be tightly capped so they are ready to go for the next art project," Pflock says. "Same goes for paints, stamp kits and anything else they actually will want to use again."
Older kids tend to balk more, Pflock says, and warns parents that kids in elementary school will be especially resistant to chores. Try calling them something else, like household responsibilities, tasks or family help.
"Simply using the word 'chore' makes everything so unattractive," she says. "Once you get past that, the things kids can do to help are endless. Just about anything that takes up your time can be assisted with by kids -- dusting, folding, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming."
Do remember, though, that you need to present clear instructions and set your kids up to succeed.
"Nothing will turn off your laundry folder more than seeing you refold everything they just worked very hard to accomplish," Pflock says.
What about those tweens and teens? The same rules apply. But whatever you do, don't give up. Giving children chores reaps future rewards, Pflock says.
"Being responsible for something and following through with the responsibility can be a very satisfying experience," she says. "It provides opportunities to point out and celebrate successes."
Related: Parenting Like the Obamas - Do Your Kids Do Chores?
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