Having a child guarantees an abundance of messes ranging from cleaning up baby food to changing dirty nappies. Fortunately, at around two years of age, children become old enough to start learning the responsibilities of cleaning up after themselves. This skill is best taught early as it will not only help the child later in life, but also help to save their parent’s sanity as well.

Young children get overwhelmed very easily, so parents should offer guidance when first teaching toddlers to clean up. For example, if there are dozens of toys scattered around the floors, parents can say something such as, “Wow, it looks like you had a lot of fun in here, but this sure is a big mess. Here, I’ll pick up some toys and you can pick up the rest.”

Parents should also make sure children have a special place to put everything. Large bins or boxes can be purchased and labelled, either with words or pictures, to help remind children where each item goes. Often times children feel a sense of pride knowing that their items are set aside in a special place, which can help encourage them to clean up on their own next time.

For older children who are more reluctant to cleaning, parents can encourage them by turning the chore into a fun game. One of the easiest ways to make cleaning fun is to turn on some music and allow children to dance or bounce around as they place the toys in their proper location.

Parents can also use a child’s natural competitive nature to help with cleaning. If more than one child lives in the home, parents can challenge both siblings to see who can pick up the most toys in 60 seconds. Even if only one child lives in the home, parents can record the child’s personal best and document improvement.

Regardless of age, parents should also be sure to thank their child for their help. Cleaning is hard work for children, especially when they’re young and lack patience. By telling the child that their hard work means a lot and makes their parents proud, they’re far more likely to do the work on their own next time.