How to Instill a Sense of Stewardship in Children (the best cleaning tips included!)

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“Historically, stewardship was the responsibility given to household servants to bring food and drinks to a castle dining hall. The term was then expanded to indicate a household employee's responsibility for managing household or domestic affairs.” (Wikipedia)

A biblical worldview of stewardship is usually defined as people taking care of all things God given, including our time, our finances, our responsibilities, our families and our homes.

It’s for this reason my husband and I give our children allowance, we assign them household chores and we allow them small pets. We believe that stewardship is an important lesson to instill right from the start.

How will you budget that money? In what ways will you keep your pet safe? Why do we need a clean house? These are some of the questions that experience offers them answers to.

Graham learned the importance of saving when he flew to Calgary last year. Nathaniel learned the importance of parenting when his hamster was weak from dehydration. And Maddy learned the importance of having a clean room when friends dropped in unexpectedly.

I could take care of these things on my own, but I purposely step back and allow them to learn so they will reap the reward of a job well done.

With that said, I would like to focus on a child being a good steward of his/her room and home.  I have a few great tips that helped change the way my kids did cleaning chores and I want to share them with you!!

Use Definite Terms

When I was volunteering in the K-1 class at my children’s former school I noticed that the teacher had a method of getting the class cleaned up without the usual grumbles and complaining.

Mrs. B. would announce, “Okay, children, I want everyone to pick up 20 things off of the floor.” And within minutes the class was clean without complaint. I got to wondering how she managed to get children to obey her so quickly. Her technique looked effortless while mine was more like bathing a rabid cat.

My sister Betty, who is a teacher’s assistant, pointed out that it’s the same method she uses in class. Instead of children being overwhelmed by a term they can’t specifically define, cleaning is put into definite terms.

I can’t count the many times I’ve walked into my boys room to see that their definition of clean doesn’t match my level of expectation.

And even if I define that level of expectation there is always a lolly-gogger who doesn’t carry his share of the load. I spent the majority of my time behind a bench with a gavel making judgment calls on who was working and who was not--until I changed my technique.

Cleaning a room is simple. Each child is instructed to pick up 10 pieces of laundry and report back to mom. Rather than focusing on each other they are concentrating on the count and there’s usually a hustle to be done first. Next I might send them in with a garbage bag and instructions to pick up 15 pieces of trash. This works for Lego too—telling a child to pick up forty pieces of Lego goes farther than saying, “Clean up the Lego boys.”

My children rarely to never complain, in fact I just tested my theory a second ago by walking into the room and saying, “Okay guys, the room looks pretty clean, but I think that you should each pick up 20 more things to make it better.”

What was their response? My request was received an energetic, “Okay,” as they hopped off of their beds and started in on the search.

I love to see them work without complaint, but even more than that I enjoy seeing them grow into responsible people. They’re working with the little I give them now, but one day I know they’ll be handling much.

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'” Matthew 5:21, NIV