Learning to focus and complete tasks that are necessary but aren’t always fun is an important life skill.
A great time to practice this skill is while cleaning up! Consider creating a consistent routine to help your child know when it’s time to clean up and stay focused on the task at hand. Here are a few tactics to help set your learner up for success:
- Let your child know five minutes before it’s time to help you clean up.
- Pick a clean-up song to sing or play. The cue of the music will help your child to stay focused on the task.
- If your child gets distracted, gently remind them that it’s not the time to play anymore, and that you need their help to finish the job.
- Brainstorm ideas with your child about other ways to make the task more fun (maybe the toys are mice that must be rescued from a flood!).
- When the task is done, acknowledge your child’s hard work and thank them for helping you. Research shows that a positive emotional environment supports a child’s ability to self-regulate.
Repeat this often, and feel free to experiment to find the right song or routine for your child. For example, you might turn clean-up time into a race by challenging your child to put all of the toys in the bucket before you count to twenty (or sixty—plenty long enough for them to complete the task), or you might play their favorite song and tell them that if they can finish cleaning up before the song is over, they can dance to the rest of it. Then, when they finish, be sure to join them!
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