Make Clean Up Time Fun

Anyone with young children knows that they love to take all their toys out when they play. Of course, someone has to clean up the toys, and that’s when the stress begins. While children do enjoy taking the toys off the shelves and out of toy boxes, they often have to be asked (multiple times) to clean up after themselves. After a few ignored requests, it’s common for parents to get frustrated and resort to ineffective discipline techniques, such as offering a reward for cleaning up, threatening punishment if the room remains messy, or nagging and lecturing until the task is done.

A better approach, and the one promoted in Parenting Without Stress, is to make a game out of the clean up activity. For example, you pick up one item and say, “Where does this go?” Or say something like, “You pick up a little thing and I’ll pick up a big thing.” Then switch. You find something small and the child finds something big.

Or you could make a parade. Pick up something and march over to the shelf where the item goes.

Or just pick up all the red things. Then ask the child to find a new color to put away.

Or you play some music and say, “How many can we pick up before the music goes off?”

Actually, almost any goofy thing you can think of will usually motivate a young child. Then when the room is clean, survey the success by asking the child a reflective question, such as, “Wow! Look at this beautiful room! How does it feel to have such a clean room?” Or, “How does it feel to get a job all done?”