When a child looks at a big mess, they have a difficult time breaking it down into smaller, more achievable goals. All they see is this one, huge, insurmountable task that leaves them feeling that it's just too much.
Breaking it down is a learned skill. If they haven't been taught, or haven't mastered it; then it just isn't there for them. Kids are not mini adults. They don't think or problem solve like adults can. We need to guide and teach them this (and many other) skills. The sooner they learn, the easier and more natural it will be for them when they do reach adulthood.
Benefits of having a checklist:
- Checklists give clear, simple instruction that the child can follow along one task at a time to prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed.
- They allow your child to feel a sense of accomplishment in small, frequent intervals as they check each item of the list.
- Lists give your child the freedom to choose which task he/she would like to complete first, second, last... it doesn't need to be completed in order.
- It allows your child to experience independence. They won't be running to you to ask "what should I do next". They already have the answer right there.
- Checklists promote "self help" skills, as well as organization and decision making.
- With your child more independent it frees up some of your time to complete tasks or chores otherwise put off until after the supervision of the room cleaning is complete.
- It provides an opportunity for you to give more praise and encouragement, as you can give praise for each task, rather than just the finished project.
In short, checklists are a fantastic way to built self-esteem, self-accomplishment, and self-motivation within your child.
Each child is different. Customize the list to include what you feel is needed in order for their room to look clean with the items that are in it. Boys may have cars and dinosaurs while girls may have dolls and dress up clothes. Perhaps your child has a closet but not a dresser, or the dresser doesn't have an opening under it for toys or garbage to get "lost". Maybe you put all of the laundry away, so having a section for them to put clothes away isn't relevant.
Age matters. If your child is too young to read, use pictures next to the words that they can identify with. Perhaps there are tasks that are too challenging for younger children, such as making their bed. You could do this task yourself, or you could consider it complete as long as they have their pillow and blankets in roughly the right order on the bed.
It doesn't have to be perfect. Give credit for effort and encourage them with praise of a job well done. The more they practice willingly, the better it will get.
How to make a checklist:
Personally, I make my checklists using Word Document on my computer. I make a grid and fill it in with pictures, words, and lines for them to put their check-mark or X. Since I have more than one child, I also leave an open space where we can print their name, so each child knows which list is his/hers.
**When working with children who share a room, I encourage the children to split up the duties by either sharing a list and marking their initial on the line, or by circling the duties that are their responsibility on their own list. Whatever works best for you.
Save the completed copy so you can easily access it and print more copies.
Another way you could go about it is to simply write it down on lined paper for your child. It doesn't have to be a work of art. Just so long as your child knows what they need to do and it is divided up into small, achievable tasks.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Iris Estrada on February 19, 2018:
Awesome idea I'm 34 and this helps muy kids so much!
Elizabeth on October 23, 2017:
Here is a link to the image of the checklist:
Lori on September 15, 2017:
Would love to download this checklist. How do I do that?
Jenny on September 03, 2017:
I would love to download a copy of this list. How do I go about doing that?
Loly on November 12, 2016:
I will like to print your list!! How I'll do it?
Mom Kat (author) from USA on October 02, 2012:
I often find myself using lists all the time to get things done. It's a great way for multi-taskers to keep it all straight :)
Nancy Yager from Hamburg, New York on October 02, 2012:
For children? Heck I could use this list for my house, LOL
Mom Kat (author) from USA on September 30, 2012:
Thanks for your comment jpcmc. I'm so glad you liked it.
JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on September 30, 2012:
This is a great idea. Plus the pictures will help the child understand it easier. teaching responsibility at an early age is vital. The sooer they realize the importance of responsbility the better. Shared and voted up!
Mom Kat (author) from USA on September 30, 2012:
Thanks healthwealthmusic! I'll be posting more :)
My kids love their lists and charts so much, they get upset when I don't print enough off! lol
I'm glad you liked the hub.
Ruth R. Martin from Everywhere Online ~ Fingerlakes ~ Upstate New York on September 30, 2012:
Awesome hub with great tips! I have also seen that my children, ages 4 & 5 clean up better if I give them only one job at a time - such as telling them to pick up the legos, rather than telling them to pick up all the toys. Then I'll tell them next - now pick up the books, etc...
Thanks for sharing - voted up!