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Cleaning Tips: 5 Easy Ways to Get Kids with ADHD to Want to Clean

Girl sitting in couch with toys strewn about and ignoring her father.

Did you know it’s estimated that around 9.4 percent of children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD?

There are a lot of misconceptions about ADHD, which can make it challenging for kids with ADHD to get the support they need. If you have a child with ADHD, you’ve probably noticed them struggling with chores, such as cleaning.

To the blind eye, this may look like laziness, but it’s typically only the effect of ADHD. So, are there any cleaning tips that can help your children tidy up?

We’re here to help you out. Keep reading below to learn how to build the perfect ADHD kids cleaning guide for your home with five of the best tips.

1. Provide Additional Stimulation

Those with ADHD don’t get as much satisfaction from doing ordinary tasks as those without ADHD. This is because people with ADHD have less diffusion of dopamine in the brain’s synapses. So, if a task is boring or repetitive, it’s even harder to build up the motivation to do it.

Chores and cleaning are much easier when they have additional stimuli to keep their minds occupied and active. For example, many people with ADHD listen to music while they clean. You could also encourage your child to watch a movie while folding their laundry.

2. Break It Down Into Smaller Chunks

Teaching ADHD kids to clean requires some insight into why kids with ADHD find tasks like cleaning so challenging. Children with ADHD have what’s known as executive dysfunction.

Executive dysfunction makes it challenging to analyze tasks, organize, make decisions, and execute plans. This is why kids with ADHD struggle to clean. It’s often difficult to evaluate a messy room and know where to begin.

You can help your child by breaking down the cleaning process into smaller chunks. This makes the process less overwhelming and more manageable for an ADHD brain.

For example, instead of asking them to clean their entire room, ask them to simply declutter their desk for the day. The next day they can focus on cleaning up laundry from the floor.

A chore chart is a handy way to break up tasks and remind your child of what needs to be done. It’s great if it’s also interactive, as those with ADHD find it satisfying to cross things off to-do lists and mark a task as done.

3. Gamify It

It’s pretty obvious that when asked to choose between cleaning and playing games, children will opt for the latter. However, what if you could combine the two?

Both kids and adults with ADHD have found success with mobile apps that help gamify boring tasks. So, what exactly does that mean?

Take the app Habitica, for example. With Habitica, users can create a profile and list their goals and tasks. When they complete their tasks, they can level up their avatar and even get real-life rewards, such as an extra hour of downtime watching TV.

You can gamify cleaning without apps too. Make an incentive list to encourage your child to clean up after themselves.

Remember that your child may also need some help along the way. Those with ADHD rely on external motivation to accomplish boring tasks, so help your child get started by cleaning with them for the first five minutes if they’re still struggling to start.

4. Give Them The Right Supplies

We’re all familiar with the concept of a junk drawer, as well as the stressful feeling that arises when faced with the task of organizing it. Well, that feeling is similar to how kids with ADHD feel when they look at any mess, big or small.

As we mentioned above, kids with ADHD struggle with analyzing messy situations and planning out ways to organize them. You can make the organization process easier by providing your kids with helpful tools and supplies.

Many people with ADHD find that using labeled boxes and Ziploc bags helps them to keep everything in its proper place. This makes it easier when, for example, your kid has to pick through the mess of clothes, school items, and knickknacks on their bedroom floor.

Having numerous hooks around their bedroom makes cleaning easier as well. This is one of the best cleaning tips to encourage routine cleanup. After all, it’s much simpler to hang a hat or backpack on a hook than to try and find room for it in a closet, dresser, etc.

5. Give Them a Time Limit

Ever notice how children with ADHD put off long-term homework assignments until the night before they’re due? While it has been officially ruled an ADHD behavior, many of those with ADHD develop chronic procrastination. This is due to issues with time management and the inability to prioritize important tasks, which are a result of ADHD.

While many people with ADHD deal with chronic procrastination, they typically also thrive under pressure and can accomplish a lot quickly when they’re under a deadline. This is why it’s helpful to give ADHD kids a time limit when they start cleaning.

If you expect a certain amount to be done by a certain time, there’s a better chance your child will achieve it. Instead of telling your kid to clean their room by the end of the weekend, give them an earlier deadline.

Giving them a time limit also creates a timed challenge, which can be appealing for ADHD brains. If your child is still having trouble focusing, use the Pomodoro technique, which intersperses multiple sprints of productivity with short breaks.

Utilize ADHD-Friendly Cleaning Tips

For ADHD kids, cleaning tips are always appreciated. By teaching ADHD kids to do chores healthily, you are setting them up with tools that will help them throughout their entire life. With the tips above, you’ll be able to work with your ADHD kid to build a clean and happy home!

Still need a little bit of extra help to get all your cleaning done? Our team at Anita’s Housekeeping Referral Agency has been matching amazing professional cleaners with customers since 1994. Request a booking today and enjoy the comfort of a clean home!


Anita's Housekeeping Editors