13 answers

3 Year Old to Clean Up

I am trying to teach my 3 year old daughter to clean up her toys. that little girl has all the excuses in the world why she can't. "Her legs hurt", "I just can't, my tummy hurts"," its too hard", ect...I try and bribe her, I have tried and acted like I was throwing away the toys she is not putting away. So in the long run, I end up doing it. My one and half old son cleans better than she does. Any ideas or suggestions would be great.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for all the great advice. I have alot to work with. I already did the race to pick up the blocks before I counted to 10. That worked good! I know she is only 3, just taking baby steps...hopefully we'll get there. I think it's me who needs to have more patience with it,HA!

Featured Answers

I agree that you need to help them pick-up to some degree, but what has worked for both of my children (ages 6 and 2 1/2) is to say that if I have to pick up the toys by myself they are going in the "good-bye" bin. Basically this is a laundry basket where I put the toys, and then I take them away for anywhere from one day to a week. The first one or two times they didn't seem to care, but they quickly caught on that they won't have they toys if they don't help.

More Answers

I agree with Melissa - she's only 3. Ask for specifics. Example: Please pick up your blocks and put them in here. Please put your books on the shelf.

If she gives you an excuse (her legs or tummy hurt), then she can go to bed and stay there. When she feels better, she can come out and help pick up.

If she absolutely refuses, then take the toys away (I have a hamper for them) and tell her she has to earn them back by listening to you and doing what you ask.

You also might want to institute the "Put the current toy away before grabbing another one rule." Kids have to do this at school or daycare - might as well do it at home too.

Edited to add:

Above all: BE CONSISTENT! If you are going to throw a toy away, by all means, do it! Don't hide it. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Be clear.

If you say the toy will be taken away, then take it until she earns it back. This is an ongoing process - pick one method and stick with it. Do not bribe her! Be very clear, if X doesn't happen, then Y.

1 mom found this helpful

It's called manipulation, and it's obviously worked for her so far!!! Set a timer, and tell her anything not picked up gets put away for at least a week, and she has to earn it back by picking up, or whatever else you decide. It also helps to make clean up as easy and clear as possible at this age. Demonstrate to her exactly where things go, even go as far of putting pictures on shelves or bins to help. Take a picture of the room and challenge her to match it. It may not be perfect, but praise her if she's really trying. Don't bribe. If she has too many toys to care for, rotate them so it is easier to clean up. Also, make it a habit everyday, it can be overwhelming if it gets too bad.

1 mom found this helpful

Just out of curiosity, is your daughter in preschool or anything like that? The only reason I'm asking is at my daughters school (even at the ages of 7 & 8) the teachers have a "Clean up" song. My kids learned it at school and often when they are cleaning up their room, they will sing it. Something like that might help or make it a game... I always did the "lets see how many toys you can pick up before mommy counts to 20 (or whatever)"... Then while counting get all excited and make a game out of it.. something that should be fun and not dreadful for the both of you. Not only does the counting give them a "goal", but it also teaches them to count to 20 lol, by hearing it over and over again. Often times my daughters would start to count with me. Change the number you count to as well, one time count to 20 next time count to 10 or 15. When they get older try turning it into a race on who can pick up the most toys. All of these suggestions are a TEMPORARY fix (until the kids realize what you are doing LOL) but hopefully for now it will take some of the stress off of your shoulders. I know both of these require you to stop everything you are doing at the time to attend to them cleaning their room, but sometimes it's worth just stopping and watching them. Right now you might feel like ripping your hair out cause you can't get her to do what to us is a simple task, but these times will pass all to quickly and someday you will stop and wonder what happened to them.

For a three year old, you need to participate with the child to clean up. You will get better results rather than tell them to go clean their room. If they do a great job..give them a special treat.

If she won't clean up her toys, I'd recommend not letting her do something else that she wants to do (such as watch a show on Nick, Jr, etc). Our 3.5 year old has learned that if he says "My stomach hurts" he MAY get out of something like going to school.

As the parent, you have to stay firm. We had the same problem last night where they got a basket of balls out and had a great time and didn't want to help put them away. The TV was turned off until they helped get every ball back in the basket (though I did about 80% of it).

They seem to have all learned all these excuses. As strong willed as he's being, I'm being even more and reminding him every possible chance who the Mom is and who the kid is.

Good luck.

I agree that you need to help them pick-up to some degree, but what has worked for both of my children (ages 6 and 2 1/2) is to say that if I have to pick up the toys by myself they are going in the "good-bye" bin. Basically this is a laundry basket where I put the toys, and then I take them away for anywhere from one day to a week. The first one or two times they didn't seem to care, but they quickly caught on that they won't have they toys if they don't help.

I pretty much agree with Melissa. Your daughter is only three. It is too overwhelming for her to tackle a huge task like this. Help her to do it. When you tell her that it is time to clean up her toys and she doesn't want to do it, then tell her that you will help her. If she says her legs hurt, then (for example) she can sit down and put blocks into the container. At first you probably will do most of the cleaning, but eventually she will help you more and more. Some days will be better than others, but eventually she will get it and will help you. You can't continue to bribe her for the rest of her life to get things done - it just isn't going to work. Most days my son cleans up with no complaints, other days are harder, but there are days I don't feel like cleaning up either!

At 3 years old a pile of blocks or doll clothes can be overwhelming. I always told my 3 year old to "help pick up." Make it a game by racing each other to fill the toybox, or racing the clock, try to throw the toys in the toybox like basketball. My son started asserting his independence at about 3 1/2 and tried refusing to pick up toys, or do anything else he was asked to! I found the solution in choices. For example, "which color block do you want to do first? I'll do blue, what do you want to do? Do you want to pick up the cars or the trains first?" Now my son is 4 and I expect him to clean up a set of toys before getting out a new set. He is used to this expectation and does it without help or whining-most of the time! Good luck!

1 / 3
Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.