Having trouble getting your seven-year-old to clean his or her room? Do you have to don a gas mask just to get through the door? There are plenty of things you can do to get even the most stubborn kids to fold their clothes, make their beds, and otherwise reform their standards of hygiene.
So how can you convince a seven-year-old to clean his or her room? Young minds love incentives. Whether they’re promised help, prizes, or even sheer fun, a bit of inducement can refine kids’ behaviors long-term. This little bit of bait doesn’t just coerce them into doing the work; it can help to teach them long-term habits.
What do I mean by “incentives?” The term varies, depending on the target demographic. Seven-year-olds, thankfully, are easy to please. Keep reading to learn how your seven-year-old can transform—along with his or her bedroom.
Encouraging a 7-year-old with Incentives
Kids are enthralled by the most peculiar things. I mean, we’ve all seen the video of that little boy who cries tears of joy over his Christmas avocado, right?
Seven-year-olds are at the perfect phase: They’re not too old to find joy in a meager piece of fruit, but they’re old enough that their excitement can extend to more sophisticated things—say, a set of storage cubes, a laundry bin, or a cleaning chart.
That’s right. Even household organizational supplies count as “incentives” to seven-year-olds, though the fun doesn’t stop there. In the spirit of orderliness, I’ve made a nifty little list of all the possible motivational stimuli that can help your seven-year-old stay clean.
Baskets are a great way to induce a spirit of cleanliness. They’re straightforward: If your seven-year-old was confused about where his or her toys went before, it’s clear, now. They go in the basket.
It might be helpful to get several baskets in different colors. Color-association can actually be somewhat entertaining to a seven-year-old: Toys go in the red bin, clothes go in the blue bin, shoes go in the yellow bin, etc.
Multicolored baskets can help to enforce your
My sister bought her son a laundry basket last week, and his room’s been spotless since—or, at least, the floor is void of rumpled, muddy, post-soccer game jerseys and shorts.
He just can’t wait to toss his clothes into the basket at the end of the day. It’s almost become a game.
That brings me to my next point: Baskets or no baskets, who says cleaning can’t be fun?
Games are a great way to foster positive tendencies without being forceful or overtly authoritative.
Hang a bell from your
With this new motivation, your seven-year-old will be rushing to clean his or her room, and he or she will be thrilled when the job is done, rather than disgruntled or otherwise upset to be simply obeying a command.
You can also set a timer to inspire your seven-year-old to clean as quickly as possible. Have you ever asked a kid to show you how fast he or she can run?
Or, more specifically, have you ever posed that question to a kid who didn’t immediately and enthusiastically sprint into the distance?
Similarly, ask your seven-year-old to show you how fast he or she can clean. Tell your child you’re going to set a timer, and encourage him or her to set and break specific records.
No prizes are really necessary, here—most seven-year-olds will be happy enough with a “great job! You’re so fast”—but if your child still seems reluctant, you can always offer a quarter or a piece of candy as a prize.
Once again, that brings me to my next suggestion: Rewards for jobs well done.
If your seven-year-old doesn’t seem altogether galvanized by a laundry bin or a broken record, never fear: There’s another option, and it’s essentially airtight.
Offering rewards is, quite possibly, the ideal way to encourage cleanliness in seven-year-olds. You can give your children treats each time they clean their rooms when asked, or you can give them prizes when their rooms have been tidy for a specified amount of time.
However, rewards mustn’t always be candy or toys. Tell your seven-year-old that you’ll organize a family movie night if his or her room is clean for three days straight.
Maybe you’ll take him or her to an amusement park, to the beach, or on a long-awaited camping trip. Whatever your
If you’re at all familiar with basic psychological principles, you probably know a bit about conditioned responses. Essentially, once your child has been rewarded for a while, you can ease off on the gratuitous gift-giving.
Sometimes, the best way to teach is through example.
If your seven-year-old is struggling to clean, try helping out a bit. When your child sees you cleaning, he or she will be more motivated to do it, too.
It’s quite possible that your seven-year-old doesn’t clean because the notions of “cleanliness” and “organization” are simply unclear. When you physically show him or her where to put things when they’re not being used and how to fold or organize them, your seven-year-old will likely to follow your instruction the next time his or her room is untidy.
Furthermore, you can teach your seven-year-old not to let their room get too messy in the first place by asking for assistance when you’re washing dishes after dinner, wiping down the table, or sweeping the floor.
Remind your seven-year-old that putting something away immediately after it’s been used is much easier than cleaning up after weeks of disarray.
Encourage Your 7-Year-Old with Chore Charts
Not every seven-year-old will respond so well to incentives. Candy, movie nights, and even money aren’t enough for some. Thankfully, there is a great deal of power in reinforcement.
Seven-year-olds can’t be expected to properly perform all household chores. They’re probably not totally equipped to vacuum, paint, or scrub the toilet without some sort of ensuing fiasco.
Thankfully, there are still plenty of tasks seven-year-olds can do well, and assigning them on a chore chart can greatly strengthen their individual work ethic and desire to complete their assigned jobs.
Make a list of chores for your seven-year-old and assign dates for when each charge should be completed. Better yet, make a wheel of potential duties so your seven-year-old can spin it once a day for a new and exciting task.
In addition to cleaning his or her bedroom, your seven-year-old can dust shelves, dry dishes, pull weeds in the yard, get the mail, water the plants, fold laundry and put it away, and scrub any dirty walls or doors.
If you have any younger children, your seven-year-old can help you feed them. My sister lets her son feed his baby sister yogurt, peas, or whatever else she’s eating, and the two kids often have tons of fun eating and being silly together.
There are plenty of things a seven-year-old can help you do around the house, and such supplements to his or her regular activities can increase your child’s sense of responsibility and willingness to work.
Know When to Let It Go
Sometimes, a house full of seven-year-olds and other young children is practically lawless, and, sometimes, there’s not much you can do. You might not have time to get down on your hands and knees and show your seven-year-old how it’s done.
Maybe your seven-year-old is picky and you don’t know what he or she wants in return for completing his or her chores.
That’s alright. Your seven-year-old doesn’t need to be an organizational master this very minute. You can always take baby steps to get your house in order.
Buy some baskets, drawers, and shelves, and slowly prompt your family to put household items in their designated spaces after they’ve been used. Keep a chore chart, but don’t expect tasks to consistently be carried out as planned.
You don’t have to let your house descend into utter chaos, but you don’t have to keep it pristine all the time, either.
The easiest way to encourage a seven-year-old to clean his or her room is through a subtle and uplifting lifestyle. Try to avoid mandates and ultimatums. Don’t expect your seven-year-old to act like a grown-up.
Just do your best to promote positive behaviors that will, hopefully, follow him or her into adult life.
Relax. You’ve got this.
Should I force my child to clean his or her room? Nobody likes a dictator. Children especially respond negatively to strict commands. Moreover, forced neatness often engenders obsessiveness and unrealistic expectations for the future.
Encourage your child to be as tidy as possible, but don’t expect his or her room to be absolutely immaculate.
At what age should I expect my child to clean his or her room? Children can handle a surprising amount of responsibility at remarkably young ages.
Your child can reasonably pick up his or toys and clothes and even help make his or her bed between 24 and 36 months of age.