How to ask the child to clean up his toys?

@kaka135 (14719)
Malaysia
June 5, 2012 5:26pm CST
My son is 3 years old now, and I started to ask him to clean up his toys after playing when he was turning to 3. I don't expect him to clean up all, and all by himself, I always clean up together with him. Sometimes he does clean up his toys, but most of the time he doesn't. Even when he is cleaning up the toys, he is actually playing with the toys, and at last nothing has been cleaned up. I always have to tell him, if he doesn't clean them up, then I will pack them up and keep them, then he can't play with them anymore, and I don't need to clean them up all by myself. Sometimes, I'll tell him if the toys lie on the floor, when the cockroaches come, they will make the toys dirty or they may break the toys. I don't like to use these kind of threatening methods, but I have no idea how I can ask him to do the clean ups, and he will do it happily and willingly. Do you have any ideas or good methods on this?
5 people like this
26 responses
@NailTech (6874)
• United States
5 Jun 12
Wish I could help. I'm childless but live with a 45 year old brother who won't clean up the entire second floor which holds alot of his stuff and is spralled all over basically and hoarded. If you have any suggestions for this I'd like to know.
2 people like this
@kaka135 (14719)
• Malaysia
6 Jun 12
Hi NailTech, thanks for your response. I think it's more difficult to ask an adult to clean up instead of a child to do so. Adults already know what they should do, but if he refuses to do it, then it's a bit difficult to ask him to do so.
@ravinskye (8241)
• United States
5 Jun 12
I would say just be persistent. Keep making him do it and eventually he'll just except that he has to. It will become part of his routine. At that age, once you give in once and don't make them do it, they sense weakness and they refuse more lol.
1 person likes this
@kaka135 (14719)
• Malaysia
5 Jun 12
Thanks for your response. Yeah, that's why I still keep asking him to do so, even I can do it much faster and easier than ask him to do so. I want to let him know that it's his responsibility to clean up the toys.
@bjc66bjc (6730)
• United States
6 Jun 12
Hi kaka, I totally agree with ravinskye...being persistant is the key...You can't say one thing and do something different. He does pick up on that even at 3...if you have to use the methods that you are using don't feel bad...it will eventually work... I don't know about the cockroach method. lol...that really sounds like a FAR stretch.....lol does he rally know what a cockroach is????
1 person likes this
@kaka135 (14719)
• Malaysia
6 Jun 12
Hi bjc66bjc, thanks for your response. Actually I am trying to avoid the methods I am using, but I can't think of any other ways at the moment. What is FAR stretch? My son knows what cockroach is, because sometimes there are cockroaches running around in my house during night time. My son is not afraid of cockroaches, in fact he is quite excited when he sees them. But what I told him is true that the cockroach might bite the papers or any stuffs, and after the cockroaches crawl over the toys, the toys will be dirty...
@marguicha (191425)
• Chile
6 Jun 12
I had a big chest for the girls to put their toys. I told them they had to pick them up and if they didn´t, it meant they did not want them anymore and I would throw them away. In those times, toys were given for birthdays and Christmas only so they did not have as many toys as children have now. I stood by them with the broom and a dustpan. When they got tired (and they had decided they´d throw way the toys and I had started to clean up to throw away...)I waited until they left and picked up. Sometimes I´d hide those toys for some time so they´d miss them. Still, some people are more tidy than others. There´s no good book about parenting
• China
6 Jun 12
haha,from the your response,i can see that you must be a good mother .you have a lot of ways to deal with your babys.Hoping your baby will grow happily and healthily .
@marguicha (191425)
• Chile
7 Jun 12
I tried my best, but that was a long time ago. Now I have grandchildren. THe relation between children and parents has changed now. Children have too many rights and not a single duty. It was not so a generation ago and I think our way of teaching our kids was better.
• Marikina, Philippines
13 Jun 12
That is so difficult, but do you think three years old is too young to know everything about how to clean up the toys? In the mind set of a child, that kind of age is not the serious type of person who would enjoy to clean a toy because all the child knows is to play and that kind of age is the age which they easily got bored. When I was a substitute teacher for a five year old girl, my co-teacher told me to teach the five year old girl only 30 minutes and not one hour because they would easily got bored, well, I think that is a kid's behavior.
@andy77e (5157)
• United States
7 Jun 12
Rule 1 Never tell a lie. If you tell your child something that isn't true, you just make yourself a liar. Do you listen to liars? I don't. Why? Because they lie. Your child will learn that you are a liar, and never listen to you. They won't respect you when they get older, because they know you lie. Plus, you are teaching your child that lying is part of being an adult. You'll end up with a lying adult later on. So if you say "the cockroaches will come and break your toys", and that doesn't happen, the child will think 'hmm... mommy is a liar. I don't need to put my toys away'. Rule 2 Always do exactly what you say. If you say it... do it. If you are not going to do it, don't say it. It's called "integrity". It's the idea that you are a person who does what they say they are going to do. So if you say "if you don't put away your toys, I'll pack them up and you can't play with them", and the child doesn't put the toys away, and you don't pack them up, think about what you just taught your child.... "Mommy doesn't do what she says. I don't have to listen to mommy" If you say it.... DO IT. If you are not going to do it, DO NOT SAY IT. You are teaching your child that you will never do what you say, and they don't need to bother listening to you. Rule 3 Talking is meaningless. Yacking at your kids is pointless. Talking at them, blaw blaw blaw, and nag nag nag, and blaw blaw blaw... has no effect. You must teach your children, with ACTION. Physically doing something. You can whine at your kids about putting their toys away for the next 15 years until them move out of your home. All of it will be meaningless and dumb. They will move out of your home and be slobs in life. You have not taught your child anything until you do it with ACTION. You MAKE them pick up their toys. You PUNISH them when they don't. You TAKE the toys away. ACTION. You teach them with ACTION. Not blaw blaw blaw, nag nag nag, yack yack yack. Rule 4 Do it the FIRST time. This is the most aggravating to me. You don't do anything the first 3 times you ask them to do something. But after the 4th, you DO something. Get mad or whatever. So what you teach your child, is that they can ignore you until the 3rd time, before they have to do what you ask. Then I hear parents go "why do I always have to ask you 3 times to do something??" Because *YOU* taught them they don't have to do anything until the third time. Again, ACTION. If you don't do anything until you have asked them 3 times to do something, then that is what you have taught them. Make them do it the FIRST time you ask, or punish them. They will learn to do it the FIRST time you ask. Rule 5 Have correct expectations. If you tell home to clean up toys, but don't really expect him to do it, you are setting yourself up for failure. The child will learn that he never really has to do anything himself. He'll learning that he does not really need to do things himself, and that others will always help him. Your duty as a mother is to teach a child how to survive in the world when he is an adult. Teaching him to rely on everyone else to help him through everything, is a great way to end up with a pathetic useless adult. Obviously there are some things a child simply can't do without help, but putting away his toys isn't one of them.
@deebomb (15312)
• United States
7 Jun 12
Hello kaka. You are doing the right thing by having your son help you clean up his toys. It can be a challenge to get a child to clean up their room. I have three granddaughters that still don't clean up their rooms. Some kids are just too busy to keep a room clean.It just might be that you have to many toys for your son. There are so many fun and interesting toys out there that it is hard to not buy them. Too many toys can discourage a small and even an older child from picking them up.What you might do is put a small amount of toys in bags or boxes and let him have only one at a time. Have him pick up the ones he is playing before he can have the next box or bag. Have him bring the box or bag to you before you give him the next set. I don't know what kind of toys your son has but something else you can do is have him pick up all his books then all his animal toys then all the cars so and so forth. That way he might not be so overwhelmed. Keep on keeping on and he will eventually will learn. I t might take until he is a teenager but he will learn.
@jdyrj777 (6537)
• United States
6 Jun 12
I believe it is impossibe for a child to pick up their toys happily and willingly. I especially had problems with my son on that. My daughter was a little easier. Today she is a perfectionist. She now has the same problem as most parents getting her own children to clean up. When both my kids were young i tried to make it like a game and i would also help them tp clean up. But as i mentioned above the out come of each was different.
• China
6 Jun 12
I have asked my baby boy to pick up toys by himself, he just won't listen, I need to set it as a precondition. If you want to go out and play, clean up your toys. If you want to watch cartoon, clean up your toys. If you want to play computer games, clean up your toys.
@maean_19 (4657)
• Philippines
6 Jun 12
Hi there Kaka Parenting is tough because it requires patience and persistence. With your dilemma, it is hard for the kid to do it by himself because with his age, his sense of understanding is of course different. That is the reason why words are not enough. The answer to your question is ask him to clean up, but you need to join him when doing so. Do this always and when he obeys, you have to appreciate and affirm that he is doing good. At this age, reward system will work and giving him remarks when he obeys. Be patient.
@ginspearl (209)
• Philippines
6 Jun 12
I also do have the same problem as yours before. I hate it when my daughter just leave her toys anywhere once she's done playing. I used to tell her to clean up her toys and return it to where she gets it. There are times that she is doing it though most of the time she just leave it anywhere. When I bought a mini cabinet where she could keep all her stuff, I teach her how to clean up her toys and arrange it properly at the cabinet. I even brought her to her cousins house where most of cousin's toys are still in good condition and rightly arranged in a big cabinet.As if some of the toys haven't use. I told her that all of those toys are all old toys of her cousin. I told her that her cousin loves her toys very much so after playing with it she clean it up and return it nicely to the cabinet so that she could play with it all over again, and up to now her cousins still have those old toys because she knows how to take care of them I told her if she could clean up properly her toys, she might also have a collection of her most like toys and keep on enjoying seeing it when she grow old. After a day of showing all that stuff, i observed that my daughter alreading cleaning up her toys and properly arranging it to the cabinet. And she keeps on telling me that she loves her toys so she also needs to take good care of them. I just do hope you've got an idea in my story. Have a happy day!
@mikyung (2233)
• Philippines
6 Jun 12
Hi kaka135! I don't have kids right now, wanting to have soon. But I have nephews and nieces. My technique is to set an example for them to follow. I told them fixing your things when you are done is a good trait which every child could have. I sometimes reward them for fixing their things.
@babyEj (1522)
• Philippines
6 Jun 12
Before I got the same problem with my son. He always wanted to play but after consistent talk with the rules of using them he knows already that every after using them he should keep them in its box.
@celticeagle (135008)
• Boise, Idaho
6 Jun 12
You have to find a process to use and then be consistant. I think consistantcy is all important. Do you give him options? Do you just yell? Or do you tell him he won't get to do something fun or get him a new toy if he doesn't get the toys picked up? WHen he has freinds over do they help clean up? Have you done any family therapy? He is 3 now but bleive me it gets toughter as they grow older and learn more how to push buttons. If he is getting away with it now it will only get harder. I wouldn't scare him with cochroaches that just opens new worries for you. Believe me threatening doesn't work. And he is obviously not taking the threats as serious. You need to go to a family therapist who will make it make sense to you and can really help you find some tools to use.
@ryanong (9665)
• Vietnam
6 Jun 12
I think All you need is being patient. You should tell him why he has to clean up his toys after playing. And you should remind him whenever he forgets to clean up it. With the time, it will be his habit: playing and then cleaning up.
@ShyBear88 (54359)
• United States
6 Jun 12
You should reward him and tell him when he cleans up when you ask him to he gets something in return. My daughter is 16 months and I've already starting working on picking up after herself of course I help her pick up her toys but when she picks them up and puts them where they belong before bed I praise her for each toy. I tell her good job, thank you for helping mommy put your toys away. I give her a hug and kisses as well, hi fives and of course thank you when she does it. Finding some way to give him something for doing will teach him good behavior gets rewards bad behavior gets you a negative rewards. A threat to a 3 year old is nothing at all they don't understand what we really want for them. Being negative the way your doing isn't really working and taking toys a way for not cleaning up doesn't really teach much of anything either.
6 Jun 12
Give him something very specific to clean up and give him specific directions. Often tims for a child of 3 the direction to 'clean up' is just too vague. So you say to him, 'ok, it's time to clean up, put 3 blocks away' and then direct him to the block sand have him put them away. Then tell him good job, you cleaned up you're all done! The next day, he puts 5 blocks (or whatever is out away) and that moves to put all the blocks away, then you add a second toy. Put all the blocks away, he does that. Ok, now put 2 books away. Keep building it up for him as his age allows and teach im the concept of clean up.
@makingpots (11916)
• United States
6 Jun 12
I agree with someone who said that he might be too young still to understand the consequences of not cleaning up his toys. I would start with baby steps and give him lots of praise and recognition for picking up even just one toy. Often kids will seek to please and look for that reinforcement that they are doing good. Slowly begin to teach him that this is what is expected.
@dragon54u (31620)
• United States
6 Jun 12
When my children were young (they are 23 and 24 now) I wasn't strict about picking up before they were 3 but encouraged them to help me, telling them when the toys were cleaned up we would do something fun like walk in the garden or watch a video. (they were not allowed to watch television much, only 30 minutes a day) By the time they were 3 they would mostly help me pick up. After that I made them feel important by telling them to look at the way I kept my own room with everything picked up and in its place and demonstrated how when I wanted something I could always find it because I put everything away. Sometimes they would not want to pick up their toys so I told them they had a choice--I would put them away and they would not get to play with those for a day if they did not put them away. After a couple of times, they would pick up their favorites. What they did not pick up were put away in a special place and when they asked for them I said not today, you did not pick them up last time. This made them think of the consequences of their inaction. By the time they were 4 they were very picky about what they played with! Do not use punishment! Make him aware that his actions have consequences and he will respond. But at 3, it might take some time. Just be consistent and let him know that an orderly house is a happy house that he can find everything in when he needs it. I hope this helps.
@ARIES1973 (11478)
• Legaspi, Philippines
6 Jun 12
Hi kaka! When my children are of that age, I made a lovely box where they can put their toys after playing. At first it's really hard to make them follow but with constant reminder and offering some rewards for a job well done. Every thing will be in place.
@toniganzon (69821)
• Philippines
6 Jun 12
I think he's just too young to understand the consequence of not cleaning up his toys unless it would really happen and he learns from it. My son is the same. And he's already 8 but he's slowly learning how to do it and where to keep his toys after playing with them. The problem is sometimes he forgets where he keeps it and then he would get mad at his nanny.