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How I Got My 8-Year Old to Help Mom and Dad with House Cleaning Chores Voluntarily in 8 Weeks

March 4, 2018

Balance: Affection and Discipline

So many parents today have the same problem:

It seems nearly impossible to instill an appreciation for hard work and strong sense of responsibility in our children nowadays.

It can be hard to come up with a strategy to tackle this problem in the first place. And on top of that, there are only a handful of techniques that actually work. Few parents know even a single one.

Between our busy schedules and all the distractions, we all have a hard time taking the time to develop our children’s’ character. And even when we do have the time, we’d much rather shower our kids with love and affection than force them to do hard work or take responsibility.

Luckily for my family, I run Fresh Tech Maid, an Evanston maid service. While running a house cleaning company is definitely what takes me away from my kids the most, it led me to discover a simple yet effective way to promote work ethic and responsibility in my son. The secret is in house cleaning duties. And today, I’m going to share the exact formula with you. If you follow this step-by-step guide you will know exactly how you can create can instill a permanent work ethic and sense of responsibility in your child in just 8 weeks.

 

The HELP Technique

HELP System

 

Cleaning Tasks
Happy and Helpful Kids for Parents

The House-cleaning Enlightened Learning and Practice (HELP) Technique does more than just get your kids to do chores. It utilizes house cleaning as a vehicle to embed life-long habits that benefit your children throughout their lives. Yet it can be incorporated into your family’s schedule in a short time.

The HELP Technique creates a real sense of “we” as it applies to maintaining the home. Instead of only thinking of “I”, your child will begin to take responsibility for the home they live in, realizing they are part of an inter-dependent family. I cannot stress enough how important this mentality is.

As things progress, your child will start to take the initiative when it comes to keeping spaces neat and organized. From there, our desired traits begin to show up throughout their worldly interactions.

However, there are other benefits as well. For instance, the resulting sense of accomplishment leads to increased confidence and faith in oneself, other difficult traits to develop in our children. Not to mention it promotes appreciation for the hard work of others, sowing seeds of empathy and understanding. For instance, my 8 year old son has been always kind and respectful to the house cleaning professionals come to our home.

Perhaps the most rewarding part of developing this system have been the very sincere and heart-felt thank-you to Mom and Dad for the things parents do.

 

The 4 Simple Steps That Make the HELP Technique Go

 

Steps of HELP System
Evanston maid service’s HELP system

Aristotle once said,

“We are what we repeatedly do. Therefore, excellence is not an act, but a habit.”

So the question is, how do we create habits of excellence in our children?

The key is to associate the right behaviors with satisfaction. Children mostly do what they see others (especially their parents) doing and what they feel rewarded for. The HELP Technique utilizes these facts to your advantage in order to develop a strong work ethic and sense of responsibility in your kids.

The Steps are elaborated in the graphic above.

Once you get these four things down, your child will be so much more helpful around the house. But more importantly, they will have developed habits that will benefit them so much throughout their lives.

Work ethic and responsibility are easy to develop when we expose our children to the right environment and show them the way.

1 Lead By Example

The best parents know it’s more important to show your children how to act than to tell them how to act.

And the HELP Technique hinges on your ability to do just that. If you have no interest in hard work or responsibility neither will your children. Same goes for household cleaning.

Family Fun
Step 1: Lead by example.

If you don’t do a good job of taking care of your home already, you’re going to have to start in order for this process to work. Not to mention, your kids will be just about as excited to clean up after your mess as you are to clean up after theirs.

More than likely, your children have probably seen you doing house cleaning chores for as long as they can remember. It’s time for them to learn what that was all about.

Household cleaning is not just character development tool. It is actually necessary in adulthood, safe for all ages, and useful within itself. This is not a biased opinion from me, who own a house cleaning service in Evanston.

As such, it is imperative that we as parents set an excellent example when it comes to household cleanliness.

If you can’t tell, I’m a little biased because I own and run an Evanston house cleaning service, Fresh Tech Maid. But my conviction is real. For our family, this house cleaning service in Evanston has provided the perfect avenue to guide our child into becoming a responsible, hard worker.  However, you do not have to own an Evanston maid service for the HELP Technique to work for with your family. In fact, household cleaning is actually perfectly suited to instill great habits in kids.

Reach the Goal
Parents set the tone.

Remember that you set the tone. Our children always watch us. And there are plenty of kid friendly household cleaning projects. It is a simple matter of incorporating your children into these activities until they become habit.

If you clean up after yourself, it will be easy to ensure the same your kids will do the same. If you haven’t mastered this step, you can’t even expect your children to know how in the first place.

Hopefully, Step 1 is already checked off for you. Now it’s time to make a few changes.

2 Begin an Incentive System

The HELP Technique is a 8 week program that uses the power of verbal and material rewards in order to create positive associations with getting things done. Thus, a natural work ethic develops.

The foundation of this technique is actually your approval, in the way you reward them.

So, how should we reward kids for their good behaviors?

Recognition
Step 2: Begin an Incentive Program

There is non-monetary reward, driven by what is right and internal satisfaction based on values.  The “feel good award” is vital for kids’ development.  The top non-monetary reward is praise, linking what he or she did with a bigger and happy thing – “If grandma can see how helpful you are today, she would be so proud of what you have been doing since Monday.”

Monetary award still has its place.  However, it can have very negative effects.  Reward a kid for reading a book with monetary award can kill the kid’s natural love for reading, sadly!  Monetary award can get things going. But, we should not use it as the ultimate way of reward kids.

Once the habit has started to develop, we are going to rely almost exclusively on “feel good effect” that comes along with contributing to the family. This is vital for a child’s development, helping to build character and values.

Try These Praise Techniques

Include the value of these habits to them in the praise: “If you work this hard at everything, you can do anything.”

Brag about them in public, especially to their favorite people: “He has just been so helpful, responsible, and mature.”

You can evoke those same people with statements like: “If grandma could see how helpful you’ve been this week, she would be so proud.”

Material rewards can have very negative effects if they are used too liberally. We want our children to clean up because

Celebrate
A Proud Kid.

they desire a nice environment, not because they are getting something for it. Be wary not only of how frequently you give material rewards but what exactly you give. Be creative in your choices and try not to reward for the wrong things.

Creative Rewards That Make your Kids Feel Good

  • Teaching toys like Legos, puzzles, and brain games
  • Food rewards like favorite snacks or choosing dinner
  • Their favorite entertainment
  • Family field trips

With the HELP Technique, it is vital that you set up clear expectations and follow a routine. You want to start small and build from there. Make sure that they know they will be held accountable, but try not to be too demanding. Explain it as a learning opportunity and emphasize your family’s values. Inform them about the material rewards, but almost as an afterthought.

Once your child knows exactly what is expected of them, it is time to educate them about their new duties.

3. Educate

Make it more fun!
Step 3: Educate

It’s obvious that your kids need to know how to do something before they can do it.

The best place to start is in the bedroom if your child does not already know how to maintain their own space.

Start with making the bed.  Again, you as parents must set the example by making your bed everyday.

When making the bed has become a habit, you can continue to move through the other cleaning duties.

It is OK to fail.  Failure is good as it provides parents opportunities to teach kids the avoidable skills for life: dealing with failure.

Analyze why he or she could not get up: went to bed too late or did not use an alarm clock?  Help to learn from the mistake and do it differently to have a different outcome.

Overcoming Failure is the mother of success.

Failure is Part of Success
Failure is the mother of success.

What isn’t so obvious is how you can use this step to create a curiosity about house cleaning within your child. You can then use this to inspire your child into action.

After running a cleaning services residential, I believe that house cleaning can actually be more interesting than you think. For instance, did you know how a vacuum works? There are so many different household chores that even young children can handle if taught properly. There are even tasks toddlers can handle! In many cases, you can turn cleanup time into a game.

For older kids, you can really get in-depth explaining cleaning science. You can break down household cleaning into four processes, like how professional house cleaning companies understand, called CHAT:

CHAT
Cleaning process.

Chemical reactions: Cleaning chemicals help to loosen dirt, making removal much easier.

Heat: Hot water is often the strongest cleaning agent you need, as heat really helps to break down grime and grit.

Agitation: Agitation is the linchpin of all cleaning processes simply because some things can only be removed manually.

Time: If you use water or cleaner, soaking what you need to clean for an extended period of time can be very powerful.

There are all sorts of fun experiments you can do around the house to teach your child about these scientific principles while building an interest in cleaning at the same time.

Once understand their duties and are engaging in them, it’s all about keeping the momentum.

4 Hold Accountable  

Work Together
Step 4: Hold Accountable

This is how an 8-week program builds lifelong habits.

The HELP Technique is not based on making demands and hounding our kids to get things done. It’s predicated on making your children feel good about what they can achieve with and for the family. That is why we focus on intrinsic rewards and praise.

Using the HELP Technique, material rewards only come into play Weeks 2, 4, and 6. After that, it’s all about gratitude and praise. You want to make sure you praise and thank them often, but at the end of these two-week periods, its important to give extra attention to your child to lock in powerful positive associations for their job well done.

Over time, your children will have the willpower for hard work and the maturity to handle more responsibility without you having to offer rewards.

At the same time, this does not mean we stop showering them with praise, approval, and other material gifts just because we love them. Instead of rewards for doing something, rewards for being who they are.

Now what if your child isn’t successful in completing their task any given day or week?

The first thing you have to do, is realize that it is ok to fail. As long as you keep the right perspective, failure is one of the most powerful teaching opportunities parents have with their children. Help them analyze what it was that lead to their failure and give them encouragement and advice to achieve success in the future. I like to say that “Talking about failure is the mother of success.” And I think it applies quite well in this context.

Keep in mind that this will be an ongoing process, but hopefully only slight tweaks to the great parenting you are already doing. Setting a good example is one of a parent’s most fundamental jobs. But the more mindfully you encourage and educate instead of demand, the higher the chances your child will be able to develop a strong sense of responsibility and powerful work ethic.

But once you have set the cycle in motion, all that remains is to tend it.

Persistent Practice Is the Key!

Implement HELP System

 

The Persistent Practice of the above 4 Steps.

Remember, that children form habits through associations. As parents, it is our duty to ensure that their associations with hard work and responsibility are positive instead of painful.

When you follow the HELP Technique to the tee, you will be providing your children with the role model they need to demonstrate the right behaviors while also making these subconscious associations that will lead to great habits later in life. I personally was amazed by how effective this method is and I feel fortunate to have this side benefits of owning a house cleaning service in Evanston.

It really is as simple as providing a good example, setting up incentives, teaching your kids about cleaning, and holding them accountable to their responsibilities.

This works much better than bossing children around or ordinary chore checklists. It’s much safer than activities like volunteering. And it will actually help your child grow to be a successful adult, unlike sheltering them like most parents today.

All that’s left for you to do now is implement the technique and share this post so that others can begin to benefit as well. Or, if you have any questions or comments, please post them below. I’d love to hear what you think about my HELP Technique or what has worked to develop an appreciation for hard work and strong sense of responsibility for your kids.

An 8 Week Program

Pre-Program

Pre Program

Pre-Program

The HELP Technique depends on you setting a good example. Be sure that you make the bed and keep the house clean every day. From there set up incentive to get your kids involved.

 

Week 1: Start Small

Week 1 Start LOL

Week 1: Start Small

Make bed and clean up upon awakening daily (4 out of 7 days).

How to Make the Bed?Supplies Needed:

None

Instructions:

1. Clear the bed, down to the fitted sheet.

2. Apply the top sheet, foldings bottom corners under if you prefer.

3. Place your duvet or comforter on top.

4. Fold the top sheet and duvet down.

5. Fluff and place the pillows.

HELP Technique Timetable:

Week 1 -Make bed at least 4 times during week, immediately after waking up. Content goes here.

Week 2 & beyond – Make bed every day, immediately after waking up.

Note:

Teach kids to understand the big picture AND the steps.

 

How to Clean Kitchen CountersSupplies Needed:

  • whisk brush
  • plastic scraper
  • micro fiber cloth
  • dust pan

Instructions:

  1. Use a whisk brush to remove food crumbs from the counter to a dust pan.
  2. Soak the dry food area if the counter is well sealed.
  3. Use a microfiber cloth to clean the surface.  If there are still dry food spots, use a plastic scraper to remove.

HELP Technique Timetable:

Week 2 – Clean counters after dinner at least 4 times throughout week.

Note:

Dry food spots are often difficult to see. Teach your child to feel counter tops with their hands to determine whether they are truly clean.

Week 2: Make It Fun!

Wk2 Make it Fun

Week 2: Make It Fun!

Discuss how cleaning works through CHAT. Experiment during evenings and weekends. Make bed and clean up upon awakening daily and PLUS clean kitchen counter (4 out of 7 days).

 

Week 3: Make It More Fun

Wk3 Make It More Fun!

Week 3: Make It More Fun!

Explain how vacuum works. Please see this How Vacuum Works.  Demonstrate in one evening or a weekend. Make bed and clean up upon awakening daily and !PLUS cleaning dishes (4 out of 7 days).

How to Clean Dishes (with dishwasher)Supplies Needed:

  • small bucket
  • microfiber cloth
  • appropriate dish cleanser
  • dishwasher

Instructions:

  1. In kitchen sink, fill bucket with warm, clean water.
  2. Wipe each dish with microfiber cloth and rinse in bucket.
  3. Carefully place each dish into dish washer.
  4. Load recommended amount of cleanser into machine.
  5. Select proper settings and begin cycle.

HELP Technique Timetable:

Week 3 – Clean at least 4 times throughout the week.

Note:

  • Be sure to hold dishes carefully to avoid breakage.
  • Use discretion about what utensils you allow your child to clean.
  • Always supervise the cleaning of potentially dangerous items or handle them yourself.
  • Feel free to stop after step 3 if you do not want your child working with your dishwasher.

 

How to Clean Dishes by Hand?Supplies Needed:

  • two small buckets
  • microfiber cloth
  • dish soap
  • drying cloth
  • drying rack

Instructions:

  1. In kitchen sink, fill one bucket with warm, soapy water. Fill the other with clean water.
  2. Soak each dish briefly in soapy bucket then wipe with microfiber cloth.
  3. Once free of residue, rinse in the clean water bucket.
  4. Dry immediately to avoid watermarks.
  5. Carefully place anything that could not get completely dried on drying rack to air dry.

HELP Technique Timetable:

Week 3 – Clean at least 4 times throughout the week.

Note:

  • Be sure to hold dishes carefully to avoid breakage.
  • Use discretion about what utensils you allow your child to clean. Always supervise the cleaning of potentially dangerous items or handle them yourself.

 

Week 4: Build Momentum!

Wk4 Build Momentum!

Week 4: Build Momentum!

Make bed and clean up upon awakening daily and PLUS cleaning refrigerator.

 

Week 5: Build Repetition

Wk5 Build Repetition

Week 5: Build Repetition

Make bed and clean up upon awakening daily. Plus one more cleaning of the kid’s choice: microwave, vacuum carpets, mirrors, kitchen counter, dishes, and refrigerator exteriors.

How to Clean Refrigerator Surface Supplies Needed:

  • spray bottle full of water
  • microfiber cloth

Instructions:

  1. Temporarily remove any magnets or other items on your refrigerator.
  2. Spray water on the surface.
  3. Use microfiber cloth to clean sides of the refrigerator.
  4. Make sure the surface is dry after cleaning, to prevent streaking.

HELP Technique Timetable:

Week 4 – Clean refrigerator 4 times during the week.

Note:

  • If stainless steel, you must clean along the grain. Agitation against the grain will damage the surface texture

 

Clean a Microwave like House Cleaning ProfessionalsSupplies Needed:

  • cup of water
  • microfiber cloth

Instructions:

  1. Boil a cup of water in the microwave for about 10 min.  Steam should come from the cup and fill microwave.
  2. Open door and wipe inside with microfiber cloth. Be sure to get the top, bottom, all sides, and the inside of the door.

HELP Technique Timetable:

Week 5 – Clean microwave at least 4 times throughout week.

Note:

  • Educate your child on how to operate the microwave properly and be sure to supervise them throughout this task.

 

Week 6: Build Interests!

Wk6 Build Interest

Week 6: Build Interests

Let the kid to choice where to clean: microwave, vacuum carpets, mirrors, kitchen counter, dishes, and refrigerator exteriors.

 

Week 7 Build Habit

Wk7 Build Habit

Week 7 Build Habit

Repetition and role models define kids’ habits.

How to Clean Mirrors Without StreaksSupplies Needed:

  • spray bottle full of water
  • microfiber cloth

Instructions:

  1. Spray a fine layer of water on the mirror surface.
  2. Use a microfiber cloth to clean the surface until dry. Remove all moisture to prevent streaking.

HELP Technique Timetable:

Week 6 – Clean mirrors at least 4 times throughout week.

Note:

  • For large mirrors mirrors, it may make more sense to clean in sections. Begin at the top. Clean perhaps the first third before moving on to the next other sections.
  • Be sure to supervise this task every time.

 

How to Vacuum a CarpetSupplies Needed:

  • vacuum cleaner

Instructions:

  1. Parents may need to operate the vacuum.
  2. Show kids how to move the vacuum to cover most surfaces.
  3. To vacuum more thoroughly, slow down the movement.

HELP Technique Timetable:

Week 7 – Vacuum a carpet 4 times during the week.

Note:

  • Safety first.  Need to set the vacuum up by connecting electrical cord by parents and supervise kids’ progress closely.

 

Week 8 Consolidate and Extend the Habit

Wk8 Consolidate & Extend the Habit

Week 8 Consolidate and Extend the Habit

Parents must lay out the expectations of what a kid is expected to do to extend the habit.

 

Do you have any questions?  I would love to discuss with you about this.  Please comment!