One of the most common household chores for kids is keeping their bedroom clean. It can also be one of the hardest. Your child’s learning and attention issues may make it challenging for him to stay organized, prioritize and focus on the task. Here are tips that can help your child keep his room neat.
Define what a “messy room” is.
Just saying, “Your room is a mess!” doesn’t tell your child what he needs to do to fix it. Kids with learning and attention issues do best with specific instructions. When his room is clean, walk through it with him and point out what makes it neat: “There are no toys on the floor because they are put away. The bed is made. Your clothes are hanging in the closet, not thrown on the floor.”
Know the “zero tolerance” level.
Sometimes your child’s room is just a little messy and you might let it slide. But it’s good to know what you won’t tolerate, and to let your child know. If you can’t stand it when your child’s Legos are all over the floor, let him know: “The Legos need to be put away as soon as you’re done with them. You can put them in the special Legos bin.”
Use visual reminders.
Your child might not be able to remember how his bookshelf is supposed to look when it’s neat. You could help by taking a picture of the bookshelf when it’s organized, and posting it on the wall. You can also include notes, such as: “Books go alphabetically by author’s last name.” Another helpful tip: keeping a chores checklist on his door so he can check off each chore he completes.
Help your child get rid of outdated things.
One of the best ways to help your child keep his room neat is by getting rid of clutter. Once a year, you might help him go through his closet to get rid of clothes and shoes he’s outgrown. You can also get rid of old toys, school supplies and other items he no longer uses. This can make cleaning his room seem less overwhelming.
Have a place for everything.
Your child with learning or attention issues may struggle with cleaning his room if it isn’t clear where things are supposed to go. Make sure there is a place for everything he uses and that it’s easy for him to put things back. That goes for clothes, toys, books, sports equipment, musical instruments, art supplies and anything else he uses frequently. Show him where everything goes and how to put it back.
Pay special attention to his study area.
A neat, uncluttered desk is important for kids with learning and attention issues. Make sure his study area is clean, even if it’s not in his room. Show your child how to keep homework organized in different folders for each subject.
Be a role model.
If you expect your child to keep his room clean, it’s best to keep your own bedroom clean. If you ask your child to make his bed but you don’t make yours, he may not think it’s that important. Your room doesn’t need to look perfect, but it should be up to the same standards you have for your child.
Praise your child’s efforts.
Kids with learning and attention issues can benefit from positive feedback. Even if your child didn’t clean his room perfectly, it’s good to praise him for making the effort. “The floor is so much cleaner now—thanks for putting away your toys.”
It’s probably best if you don’t expect your child’s room to look spotless. But giving your child household chores like cleaning his room can teach him important skills.