Heidi Geagan's 3-year-old daughter, Stella, consistently makes her bed, picks up after herself and even helps with folding clothes and washing dishes.

"She doesn't always like it," Geagan says, "but she'll thank me one day."

Geagan also has two adult children: Colton, 20, and Bri, 19. She says Colton was messy as a boy and is messy now, and Bri was tidy as a youngster and is still tidy and organized today.

"I've learned this," she says. "Do whatever works to get them to stay tidy. A made bed and nothing under it or on the floor, and a home for each belonging should suffice."

Geagan notes that parents shouldn't micromanage their kids when it comes to cleaning, and to remember the reason for teaching them to be clean is for them to learn good living habits, not to impress others.

"When my kids complained about cleaning, I told them to stay in school, earn a good living and hire their own staff one day," Geagan says.

Mount Pleasant resident Rachel Glowacki has two kids, Liam, 6, and Grey, 4. She says her kids are responsible for tidying up daily, and the family conducts one big clean each week. However, the kids aren't on a specific chore schedule.

"But we do have expectations for the week," Glowacki explains. "They are both responsible for putting away the dishes, putting their clothes in the right drawers and making their beds."

Usually, Liam and Grey respond to a cleaning request by asking for a few extra minutes of playtime first. Glowacki once used a timer, set it for 10 minutes, and told her kids that when they heard the beep, it was time to get to work.

While Glowacki says she and her husband are flexible with chores around the house, they also realize how much happier the family is when things are in order.

"For us, when things are clean, it keeps our minds free from clutter," Glowacki explains. "The discipline is a reflection of character that we hope will carry over throughout other areas of their lives."

Dr. Sharon Balcome, a licensed marriage and family therapist based in Charleston, says that keeping a clean room reinforces clean behavior.

"Discipline means to teach, not to punish," Balcome says. "Therefore, parents need to ask themselves what they want to teach their children about cleanliness, and why it is important. Children need one-sentence explanations, not 5-minute explanations. Most children comply when the explanation makes sense."

Also, Balcome says, children should know why being clean and organized makes their lives easier. For instance, parents should explain to their kids that putting their clothes and toys in the same place makes them easy to find later.

"This point can be made when they are frantic, looking for their favorite pair of shoes when it is time to leave the house," she says. "Parents can reinforce the need to put belongings in their rightful places so this intense search doesn't occur often."

For Geagan, she admits that while it can be difficult trying to instill good housekeeping habits in your kids, you have to stick with it.

"I've learned that as a parent, you do what's necessary to create in your kids a healthy future adult with good habits, no matter the struggle you face during their childhood."

According to Glowacki, consistency is key.

"We play their favorite songs and blast the music for cleaning-up time," she says. "We also give them $3 on Sundays for keeping up with their chores, and they then learn how to earn, save and spend."

Glowacki also says learning to clean can teach other positive behaviors.

"I think it's the act of listening when told to clean your room that will carry over into other areas," she says. "The discipline of cleaning will hopefully carry over to when other things are dirty or out of place, that they will respond with the attitude of straightening that out as well."

For more parenting stories and tips, go to www.lowcountryparent.com.