16 answers

My Kids Will Not Pick Up!!

Well here is my question. My kids (one 3 and 4) absolutely refuse to pick up. I have tried everything I can possibly think of and I am at my wits end. Nothing works! We have tried bribary, rewards, timeout, everything I could possibly think of. I get so frusterated because they just won't do it. Has any else had this problem? HELP?????

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

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More Answers

Pick a time (say 5:00). At that time tell your kids whatever is left out is going in a box (or somewhere they can't get it) for one week. Do this consistently and DON'T give in. They'll figure out that they want to clean up to keep their special items.

Have you tried turning it into a competition? "Who can do it fastest?" is a winner in our house for my 4 and 6 year old. :)

My kids have done the same thing. They sometimes still do. What I do that seemed to work for me is make a game out of it. I make them race to see who can pick up the most or how fast they can finish. Lately if the one I want to pick up things doesn't I ask the other to do it. After that the original child rushes over so their sibling can't do it. I also try to help them. They seem to want to do it more if I help them. Hope this helped. Good luck!

this is something i used to do to my kids its different but it worked, if they wouldnt pick up their room after playing then i would do it but that meant the next day they werent allowed to go in their rooms to play at all only to sleep at bed or nap time, i would literly ground them from their rooms,it took a few times for them to get that when i say pick up i mean it, but after a few times of this they started picking up when they were done another thing is dont let them get out more then a couple toys at a time so its not so over whelming for them to clean up! good luck!

My kids are 4 & 2. And we sing the clean up song. In the beginning, it seemed like I did most of it. Even now I sometimes get down with them and direct them.

I do think that if they're tired/hungry, it will be harder. We try to encourage pick as you go. If they get up from playing to get something else. I remind them to put toy A away first.

sometimes if it's been really bad, I go get a garbage bag and as soon as they see it, they start picking up. The first couple times I did it, I took the toys out and locked them in the trunk.

You'll still have times it's not so easy. and I remember that it won't always be perfect.

Yes, it happens. Have you tried showing them specific things that you want done and where they go? Have you tried the time game where you set a timer and see how much can get done. I know that my biggest problem is that I wanted everything in its place but, having it picked up and put in a toy box ends up better than left on the floor. We have good days and bad days when it comes to having our kids get done. The biggest thing is if you make a threat about tv, games, friends, etc., stick to your guns and don't give in no matter how much your heart is breaking!!

Wishing you the best of luck!!


I had the same problem. When i was younger my mother put everything in a garbage bag and I had to carry it up from the garage one item at a time. My brother's stuff went out the front window and he had to carry it in from outside. However, this was when we were teenagers. One rule was that no toys left the bedrooms and we cleaned up one toy before getting out the next. With my three boys I take toys away. (My choice what gets taken away.) I then out it in a box that sits somewhere where they see it regularly. When they have behaved well they are allowed to coose one toy to take out and get back. When they choose not to clean up I put a toy in the box. (Always their favorite one too.) This also helps you figure out what they no longer play with. We had a friend that got fed up and threw out all her son's toys. (Very expensive!) But it has worked for three years now, he has kept his room clean or cleaned it up when asked.

I tell my kids that I am cleaning and what is not picked up will be gone. And I mean it!! I take everything and put it in a trash bag and they go with me to the Good-will to give it away.

But also sometimes I do sit in their room and give them instructions on what to do. It really is more effective then taking toys away. We put on music and they pick up as I am in there with them!

I run a home daycare and I teach the children to pick up their toys before we go on to something else. Even my children as young as 13 months are able to pick up. What works for me is singing one of these songs.
The first song is:
Clean up, clean up everybody do your share
Clean up, clean up everybody everywhere
Just repeat this a couple of times while their picking up.

The second song is to the tune of "Following the Leader" from Peter Pan

We're cleaning up our room our room our room
We're cleaning up our room we're putting the toys away.
Ta dum ta dee a da da da da (or something like this)
Then sing it a couple more times

You have to be willing to help pick up in the beginning. It might seem like you're doing most of the work then but after they see you helping them while singing this song eventually they'll just start to pick up while you sing the song, and they may even start singing the song before you do!
Hope this works for you!

I just went through this while my husband was out of town. I have two boys age 3&4. I made sure that I took out the trash, then I give them one more chance to pick up each a specific toy. They said they would get to it later and went to go play. I picked up the toys and threw them in the trash. You should have seen my boys eyes, but they got them out of the trash. Now when ever they will not pick up, I just say the trash man will be getting some new toys. I have not had to throw any toys away lately. Hope this helps.
J. G

When my son was that age he was great about picking up his toys and cleaning his messes. I would put music on - we called it fast music-nothing too lazy, and we would clean together. I did a little he did most of it. It was a game and fun to him then. I think he has caught on the the fact that it's a chore now he's 6 and I dont' have as much luck as I used to.

Set a timer and let them know that when it beeps everything that isn't picked up will be thrown a way and set a trash bag out so they can see it, once the timer beeps put everything in the trash bag and "throw" it away, I actually hide them in my basement and maybe 6 months later I start bringing some things back up, of course this is also a good way to weed toys out.

It took 2 times and know I rarely have to throw anything out. It's surprising what kids will do when they loose the stuff they love

Hi C.~

I feel your frustration. My boys are 4 1/2 and soon-to-be 2. With kids this age, picking up always takes a bit of time. I play games with mine on occasion. At times, I have them race to see who can pick up all the cars first. They aren't allowed to touch any other toys, just the cars. Then I pick another type of toy or even a toy color. They get a kick out of it--the whole "on your mark, get set, go!" Also, we play beat the clock. I set a timer for a minute or so and we all race to see who picks up the most toys in that amount of time. When the buzzer goes off we all stop. Then I reset it and we go again until everything is put away. There are a number of ways to make pick up time a game. You can even do musical put-the-toys-away. Start and stop the music like you would with musical chairs. You'll be surprised when they start playing the games on their own w/o you rallying them together.

I also have three pick up times during the day where the toys have to get organized. The first is before we sit down for lunch, the second is before dinner, and the third is before bedtime. They get into a routine that way and it saves you from following around after them picking up all day long. I've come to accept that they are going to haul everything out, but it all must go back where it came from before we eat or go to bed. I hope this has helped you!

I have thrown away a number of my son's toys. It worked. When I say pick up your room, he knows very well that after the third request what ever is still on the floor get thrown in the trash can on trash day, I have him do it some times.

My Mom use to warn us..."I am cleaning house tomorrow" which meant when she cleaned up, ANY toys left on the floor would be GONE. She didn't just put it away in the box in the storage shed...it was gone! With my kids, I have a terrible time getting the "older" kids to leave the toys alone while the younger kids are playing. If the younger ones leave a toy for 2 seconds, the older one puts it away. Then the younger one comes back for it and it is gone. They remember losing a few toys for not picking them up I guess so are making sure the little ones don't lose theirs too LOL Another thing I learned, sometimes saying "pick up the toys" is an overwhelming phrase. Tell one to put away the dolls. The other to put away the toy dishes, etc. That alone seemed to help us alot here. When our now 6 year old grandson was 4, his mom told him to go pick up his room and he put his hands on his hips and looked and her and said "Mom, that is silly, you know the room is too big for me to pick up." Trying not to laugh, our daughter said, "you are right. So how about picking up ALL of the toys and putting them in the toybox." So, maybe just changing your wording will help and they won't take it so literally. Make sense? Hope this helps some. God's Blessings!

You might try the housefairy. http://www.housefairy.org/ I am not affiliated with this company in any way, but I have heard GREAT things about it.

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