Why won’t my kids pick up their toys?
If your house is like mine, toys are everywhere — even the bathroom. They multiply like rabbits!
Do you find yourself wondering (or yelling) why don’t my kids pick up their toys?!
I have a few ideas why…
It’s a new gig
The first probable reason our kids don’t pick up their toys is because it’s a new concept to them. We have been picking up for them their whole life. Why should they start now?
Tidying up is a new idea and a new responsibility and it’s not going to happen magically.
Teaching your kids the habit of cleaning up is a process. For many of us, it feels easier to ignore a pile of toys than to nag about the mess until we get results.
How much clutter is yours?
The second probable reason kids aren’t cleaning up on the regular is because we, their parents, don’t pick up our stuff either! If the house has clutter on every surface, everyone gets used to living with messes.
How do we get results?
I know the answer. But unfortunately it isn’t easy.
There are 15 parenting books on my bookshelf telling me how important follow-through is, and how healthy boundaries make healthy children. It takes patience to teach the skill of picking up because there is a training period.
Don’t expect a child to know how to do a chore intuitively. They are a like a new employee. So show them how to pick up. If they can read, write down the steps on a card. I go over other tips like this in an email series about kids and chores.
Get more ideas for teaching and enforcing a chore routine in our series:
Delegating is the secret to happiness!
The same principles of follow-through and boundaries apply to being organized.
- Set a good example and be consistent.
- Don’t go back and re-do their work.
- Don’t show exasperation because they didn’t clean up perfectly.
I know it isn’t easy. But having children who help around the house is definitely worth the effort!
Once kids get in the habit of putting things away, it’s like washing their hands. Sometimes you will have to send them back to re-do their work. But, after a while they will catch on. Help them develop the habit of tidying up every evening, or whenever they are done with a toy.
For more ideas and specific details see this older post on organizing for kids.
I appreciate your comments below and any questions, too.