How to Encourage Your Toddler to Clean Up Toys

Do you spend half of your day picking up toys that are thrown about your house?  Toddlers LOVE to dump toys out…but don’t always like to pick them up.  You find them under couches, in the bath tub, and on the stairs.  Anywhere but the toy box!

You are not alone when it comes to the clean house vs. toddler struggle!

Teaching your toddler how to clean up is something that will help with this problem.  Starting while they are young is best.  Here are some simple ways to get your toddler picking up instead of just throwing down.

Simple Ways to Get Your Toddler to Clean Up Toys

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Model

 

Does your mini me copy just about everything you do?  Take advantage of them watching your every move to teach them a productive and helpful skill.  Instead of just telling them to clean up, show them how.

While you are picking up toys narrate what you are doing and where you are putting the toys.  Be excited about it and make it sound like you are doing something fun and interesting instead of grumbling about gathering scattered toys.

If it looks like you are doing something fun, chances are your toddler will want to do it to.  You may feel a bit silly at first, but when you see your toddler start to imitate what you are doing it will be worth it.

Sing a Song

 

Music and singing are great ways to make activities that are not always the most fun seem manageable.  Either create your own song about cleaning up or choose one of the many options from YouTube.  If you do this EVERY TIME you clean up it works as a signal for your child that it is time to start.  That way you don’t even have to tell them to clean up, they should just get the hint from you singing or playing the song.

Need some Ideas for activities to do with your toddler? Make sure to sign up: FREE 7-Day Toddler Challenge

Positive Praise

 

Once your toddler starts to pick up a few toys give them some positive feedback.  Toddlers love to get attention and they will continue doing behaviors that get them attention.  Give them high fives when they pick up toys or tell them you are proud of them for cleaning up.  You want to use some balance with this as too much praise may seem meaningless to your child after a while.  Read more about encouraging positive behaviors here.

Choices

 

When you are having a hard time getting your toddler to clean up give them a choice.  Tell them they can either pick up the cars or the blocks.  This relieves some of the pressure and gives your toddler some control of the situation which is what they want.  You would be surprised at how well this simple trick works!  Choices also work well for encouraging language development.  

Play a Game

 

Let play time continue with silly games to make clean up time more fun.  Tell your child that you want to race them and see who can pick up the most toys the fastest.  This works extremely well when there is more than one child.  You could also play a game of “I Spy” by spotting out different toys that you want them to pick up using hints.  Make sure to take turns!

Use a timer on your microwave or a child friendly visual timer (like this one) to play a game of beat the clock!  Set it for 2 minutes and see how much they clean up.  Go for another round if they seem to be having fun or set the timer a bit longer next time if they seemed to be engaged during the clean up session.

Clean up Frequently

 

Try not to wait till the very end of the day to clean up EVERYTHING.  Toddlers attention spans are short. Short cleaning sprees work best if you want the help because they can stay focused for short amounts of time.  If you wait too long, they will not stick around long enough for the entire mess to get picked up.   You could even have clean up breaks throughout play time if things start to get out of hand.

I hope you found these tips to be helpful.  Do you have any tips or tricks that work well for you to get your toddler to clean up?  If so, I would LOVE to hear about them in the comments below or find me on Facebook!

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Is your house covered in toys? Teaching your toddler to clean up will help solve your messy problem. Use these simple tips and tricks to get your toddler to help pick up toys.

Is your house covered in toys? Teaching your toddler to clean up will help solve your messy problem. Use these simple tips and tricks to get your toddler to help pick up toys.
Is your house covered in toys? Teaching your toddler to clean up will help solve your messy problem. Use these simple tips and tricks to get your toddler to help pick up toys.
Is your house covered in toys? Teaching your toddler to clean up will help solve your messy problem. Use these simple tips and tricks to get your toddler to help pick up toys.

About Kayla ONeill

This is me and my beautiful bouncing baby boy! Before my little guy arrived I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education Birth to 21 as well as my Masters in Education. For six years I worked as an Early Interventionist serving children and families from birth to age three before becoming a stay at home mom to be with my son.

4 comments on “How to Encourage Your Toddler to Clean Up Toys

  1. Singing is a great tip! sometimes I do that with my 4 year old and it works. I help her to put back her toys where they belong, and we sing (or at least I do) and it works (sometimes) 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing! I spend way too much time picking up toys, or tripping over them! Modeling is so important to helping our children learn. Great post.

    • I do too!! With Christmas coming we have to work on this before we get new toys at our house! Glad you enjoyed the post!

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