How to Teach Children to Keep Their Room Neat

Help your children maintain clean rooms with some guidance and limits.

You shouldn't have to spend your time trying to conquer the clutter that accumulates in your kids' rooms. Instead of allowing their bedrooms to get unpleasantly messy, you can teach your kids the secrets of maintaining order. By showing them effective techniques to keep their rooms tidy, you're providing them with important life skills that will benefit them both in the present and in the future.

Get your children’s rooms in order -- and eliminate the clutter. To initiate new expectations as to how you want your children to maintain their rooms, it’s necessary to begin with neat and orderly spaces. Have your children help you create order in their rooms by throwing away trash, giving away unwanted or unneeded items, putting toys and items away on shelves or in bins, as well as hanging up and putting away clothes neatly where they belong. If your children need additional storage options to maintain a neat room, purchase necessary items for each of their rooms.

Communicate your expectations with each child once his room is clean and neat, explains educator Sara Bean in an article for the Empowering Parents website. For example, you might say, “Wow! Doesn’t your room look amazing? I think we should make sure it stays this way." Then you should explain to your child that to keep his room neat, he needs to spend time every day putting things away. Have your child agree to do this.

Institute a plan for bedroom maintenance that will work with your children’s schedules. You might build in a 5-minute clean-up time in the morning after breakfast and another 5- or 10-minute clean-up time in the evening before your children go to bed. Devise a consequence that you will connect to the plan if a child does not keep her room neat. For example, if a child leaves certain items out instead of putting them away, she might lose the right to use those items for a few days. Share the details of your plan with your children so they understand your expectations before you initiate the consequences.

Supervise your children every day to ensure that they complete the scheduled clean-up times. If you find that a child needs daily reminders to complete the scheduled clean-up, consider making a chart with the daily clean-up times, as well as exactly what she needs to do during those clean-up times. This will help her develop independent responsibility for her room.

Follow-through with the connected consequence if a child has trouble maintaining his room. Also, provide positive feedback when a child’s room stays neat -- and he completes the daily cleaning as you desire. You might say, “It’s been a week now and your room still looks as neat as a pin! Our clean-up schedule is working really well. I’m proud of you for working hard to keep your room tidy!”