- Family and Parenting
How to Get a Younger Sibling to Clean
Teaching Your Younger Sibling to Clean One Task at a Time
Getting a younger sibling to clean with you is not as hard a task as you might think.
Here are some tips to get you going. Be aware that the first few times that a task is done, it will probably have to be redone by you until they get the knack of it down.
- Start with small, simple tasks that are easy to do. Here are some examples of simple tasks to do:
- Bring utensils to the sink from the table. Don't choose breakable items at first.
- Carry items to the trash.
- Hold the dustpan while you sweep.
- Take everything off a small counter, set it somewhere to the side and wipe down the counter, then replace the items.
- Wipe the table before a meal and after.
- Gather shoes from where they don't belong and put them where they do belong.
- Take finished laundry to the appropriate rooms.
- Bring you cleaning implements such as the broom, the mop, the sponge.
- Put food away in the refrigerator after you have covered it properly.
- Wipe the front of the refrigerator or the cooled stove.
- Replace condiments to their appropriate places after a meal.
- Explain clearly what you would like done. Don't assume that because you know how to do it that they will know how to do it. You are the elder here, so be a good teacher. Watch them the first few times that they accomplish the task.
- Praise and reward the efforts. Remind them that they are no longer a little kid, they did a great job and you knew that they could do it.
- Don't expect perfection. Just like it took you a while to get the hang of household chores, it will take them a while as well. Don't redo the task in front of them.
Make the Chore Age Appropriate
You would not expect for a wee toddler still in diapers to grasp the concept of loading a dishwasher well, and you also would not expect a teenager to not know what a fork is.
Make sure that the tasks you are selecting are not above the skill set of your younger sibling. If a child can identify the difference between a knife, a fork and a spoon, they can lay out place mats and set a table. Show them where the utensils go. Where the spoon and knife go, where the napkins go.
If they are able to load and unload a dishwasher, then they can also sweep and mop the floor.
Easy Beginner Tasks for Cleaning
Here are some tasks that are easy for the smallest children to do:
- Empty the trash from offices and other areas where only paper is placed in the trash
- Lay out place mats, napkins and silverware
- Add food to pet bowls from a scoop where they are shown how full to load the scoop
- Use a small hand broom and dustpan for dust crumbs
- Wipe down a table if it is a smaller table
- Carry clothes to the washer and from the dryer
- Match socks and place them in the right person's clothing stack
- Bring their own dirty clothes to the washer
- Add and remove things that are non breakable from the pantry or the refrigerator
- Wash their own hands at the sink with warm water and soap
Easy Intermediate Tasks for Cleaning
Here are some tasks that are easy for the child in elementary school to do in addition to the above.
- Sweep the floor of a small room
- Set a table with non breakable dishes
- Carry jugs such as milk a short distance such as from the refrigerator to the counter
- Wipe up a small spill that has not gone off the table
- Empty heavier trash
- Collect dishes from the entire house that are not breakable
- Turn t-shirts inside out for washing
- Check pockets for items left behind before washing
- Wipe down stable glass surfaces such as windows and mirrors
- Feed and water pets
- Make or straighten out bed
Advanced Cleaning Tasks
Here are some tasks for children out of elementary school and on up to be able to perform.
- Set and clear a table including breakable and delicate items
- Load and unload a dishwasher
- Sweep and Mop a floor
- Vacuum a floor
- Clean a spill on all surfaces, even if the spill has spread from a surface to the floor
- Dust all items, even delicate things
- Clean a bathroom, including wiping the toilet bowl clean and the sink
- Completely do laundry from gathering to loading to folding or ironing and hanging
- Clean up after self and maintain personal hygiene
Getting Help Requires Patience
To encourage your younger siblings to help you, you need to be patient, kind, helpful to them and make it cheerful and fun.
Little children love the idea of helping out, and they like doing things that make them feel like they are part of the big kids. Make sure you always praise them. Don't yell, scold or demean them in their efforts. They won't want to help you, they won't want to attempt the task and they may resent you as a person.
Getting started with cleaning and getting help can seem daunting, but with time and effort, it will all work out.
I liked writing this hub because it made me think about when my sister and I were younger. We are very close in age, less than 3 years apart. Being the older sister, the task fell to me to teach her to help me with the chores. I remembered what worked and what failed.
What have you done to get your younger brother and sister to help you out?