what is the correct age for children to start tidying their toys away?

Lynss - posted on 03/08/2010 ( 253 moms have responded )

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my huband thinks that our 4year old is to young to start tidying her toys away . i think its the wright age for them to start

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Diana - posted on 08/29/2011

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If they are old enough to get the toys out, they are old enough to put them away. I would try to make sure that she knows before she gets another toy out she has to put the first one away. Make a game out of it. Sometimes it's just too overwhelming and they don't know where to start. Play "Scavenger Hunt". I would tell my kids to first find all the blue toys and put them in the toy box. When they found them I would say next find all the toys with wheels, find all the Barbies, etc. Some of my friends would start an egg timer and see how many toys they could pick up before it went off. If you make it fun it doesn't seem like so much of a chore. When they are little I found that it is important to stick with them to guide them. It's overwhelming for them (my 9-year-old still gets overwhelmed sometimes) so telling them exactly what you want (Polly Pockets in the Polly Pocket tub, crayons in the crayon box) makes it easier for them. They love to feel like big kids so be sure to keep it positive and upbeat and tell them what great helpers they are...even more important if they appear to be dragging their feet to get it done. ;O)

My kids were learning to put their toys away as soon as they were big enough to crawl over to the toy box & get them out. Sure I still did most of it, but it is important to get them started young. At the age of 4 they would be picking up the toys that they play with at daycare, so it is not unreasonable or unrealistic for them to do it at home too. Sometimes my girls would want me to play a game or go outside with them but they still had stuff that needed to be done or I had cleaning that I needed to be done...I would tell them that I would love to play with them, but I there was a lot I needed to do first. Then I would act like I had a great idea and ask if they wanted to help me because 3 is better than 1 and then we could get done and all play together. Sometimes it worked like a charm, sometimes not so much. :)

Ashley - posted on 07/19/2011

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the sooner the better. if you wait too long they will be more likely to fight you on it because they are used to you doing it. my daughter was about a year when she started helping me put her toys away. i think you should definatly start now or you mayhave to fightg with her over it.

Nicole - posted on 04/06/2010

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My son is 3 now and started tidying up his toys at 2 1/2 months. His daycare has a really cute clean up song that gets the kids excited about cleaning up and I sing it with him when he's at home and his toys are everywhere. We make it a game and the mess gets cleaned up very quickly. We even have him throwing his own pull up in the garbage when he wakes up from bed and we wipe him down and he puts on his underwear. We've also taught him how to put his clothes in the hamper.



The clean up song goes- Clean up clean up everybody do there share clean up clean up there are messes everywhere.

Theofin - posted on 04/01/2010

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The younger the better! I have three kids (7,5 and 2) Just teaching them as an infant to put toys away when they are thru with them follows them as they become older. It shows them responsibilty and cleaniness. All of your kids know that a consequence follows if you don't put your things away when your finished with them. I honestly don't think 4 is to young at all, you can start as young as 2 or even younger. Our two year old will sing the Clean UP song as she is putting up all her toys and for fun i get the other two to get the guitars and we jump on in with her and sing and help her clean. Putting fun into it makes it easier and all happy. The greatest thing is that all our kids understand that we need to clean up after ourselves regardless otherwise a consequence follows.

Libby - posted on 03/12/2010

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l think children from age 18mths upwards can start, make a game of it and sing a song while doing it, ask them to help pack up, in my experience there very keen to help if your doing it too.

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Diana - posted on 08/29/2011

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If they are old enough to get the toys out, they are old enough to put them away. I would try to make sure that she knows before she gets another toy out she has to put the first one away. Make a game out of it. Sometimes it's just too overwhelming and they don't know where to start. Play "Scavenger Hunt". I would tell my kids to first find all the blue toys and put them in the toy box. When they found them I would say next find all the toys with wheels, find all the Barbies, etc. Some of my friends would start an egg timer and see how many toys they could pick up before it went off. If you make it fun it doesn't seem like so much of a chore. When they are little I found that it is important to stick with them to guide them. It's overwhelming for them (my 9-year-old still gets overwhelmed sometimes) so telling them exactly what you want (Polly Pockets in the Polly Pocket tub, crayons in the crayon box) makes it easier for them. They love to feel like big kids so be sure to keep it positive and upbeat and tell them what great helpers they are...even more important if they appear to be dragging their feet to get it done. ;O)

My kids were learning to put their toys away as soon as they were big enough to crawl over to the toy box & get them out. Sure I still did most of it, but it is important to get them started young. At the age of 4 they would be picking up the toys that they play with at daycare, so it is not unreasonable or unrealistic for them to do it at home too. Sometimes my girls would want me to play a game or go outside with them but they still had stuff that needed to be done or I had cleaning that I needed to be done...I would tell them that I would love to play with them, but I there was a lot I needed to do first. Then I would act like I had a great idea and ask if they wanted to help me because 3 is better than 1 and then we could get done and all play together. Sometimes it worked like a charm, sometimes not so much. :)

Sara - posted on 04/19/2010

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I think 4 is way too old! I had DS start before he was 1 year old. Of course he wasn't doing it by himself then, I was helping him, but he was expected to help. Now he often does it by himself and he's 3.

Rachel - posted on 04/18/2010

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Not meaning to be rude, but does your husband clean up after himself, if not then he is a poor role model for her and he just doesnt want to put in the effort, if your the one putting in all the hard work at home, you need to set rules and boundaries for your child and your husband needs to follow them...

Keri - posted on 04/18/2010

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It really is your call. I have a 3yr old who puts up a fight but KNOWS it is his job to clean up his toys & put his dirty clothes in the laundry basket. My oldest (now 7)has been making his own bed & cleaning his room (picking up toys) since he was 2 & it may not have been perfect but he wanted to show his independence. I also have my 1.5 yr picking up after himself. The longer you wait the harder it will be. Good Luck!

Julie - posted on 04/17/2010

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When they are old enough to walk... help them.

Help them each time... many hands make light work.

On her own - start her and then reward her with praise and a hug.

ONE TRICK: teach her to play with one things at a time and there won't be mountains to put away.

ANOTHER TRICK: put the majority of her toys away and then rotate them every few weeks and they will seem new to her... and far less toys to clean up! ;o)

Amy - posted on 04/12/2010

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You need to get her started on cleaning up after herself as soon as you can. By the time a child is 5, most of their lifelong habits have been learned, so if she hasn't learned to pick up after herself and help with other jobs around the house by then, it's pretty much too late. She can still be taught after that, but it's a LOT harder to do, and will probably only last as long as someone is telling her to do it. Good luck! (and stay strong. She's old enough to figure out how to manipulate you & her dad so it'll probably be a struggle.)

Nancy - posted on 04/11/2010

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My son is almost 2. Ever since he could walk, I have had him helping me. Now I can instruct him to pick up his blocks and put them in the bucket. You have to be very specific and encouraging, but he puts things up in his room and in their containers when I ask him to.

Kimberly - posted on 04/10/2010

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No, it is a good age, in fact my twins are 2.5 yrs and they clean up their toys.

Karina - posted on 04/10/2010

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My daughter is 2 1/2 and she tidies away her toys, I think they need to learn to tidy they same way the learn to take the toys out. Well the big ones anyway, she puts her puzzles away and tidies her shoe rack, quite funny really it would be good if she stayed that way till the age of 18 LOL

Eva - posted on 04/10/2010

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my son is 3 and he cleans up his own room and puts away his clothes after we fold them. he is a good boy helps clean up around the house!

Andrea - posted on 04/10/2010

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My daughter is 2 and I started at 18 months with her. I was told that at such a young age you should help them or give them small tasks. to ask them to simply 'pick up their toys' is too overwhelming.

Carra - posted on 04/09/2010

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I couldn't disagree with your husband more. She should be doing whatever she is capable of, and a four year old is extremely capable of putting toys away. The best way is to give her specific duties, rather than "clean this mess up." For example, please put all of the My Little Pony's in this bin. For every piece that she picks up, you can help her by doing one thing to move the clean up along, showing team work, so in later years when you need help, she has the pattern established that we help each other out even if we aren't fully responsible for the mess. This also helps when she goes to other kids' houses in that she doesn't leave a mess for them to pick up that she helped make.

Kimberly - posted on 04/08/2010

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I would start as early as your child can understand. It'll help you out in the long run.

Lynette - posted on 04/08/2010

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My kids started picking up there toys about 1, they need help with them but it's a learning process. good luck!

Judy - posted on 04/08/2010

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I believe that you can train children to tidy their toys from a very early age, you need to hide it in a game. toys are on the floor, bring the container close and encourage your little one to slam dunk it with praise at the attempt.
As they get older you can explain that they cannot get another toy out until they have popped the others away, with this you need to be firm and consistent, can I have xxx yes when you put xxx away to make room to play with the next toy.
If you give in and let them have it it will strengthen their resolve not to do it.
I would start this as young as 18 months with age appropriate rewards for small achievments

June - posted on 04/08/2010

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yep...get her into it early and she will have the habit for life. Our daughter even tells her Dad off for not picking his things up etc and me if I dont put things back 'where they go' and she is almost 4. She puts her shoes up neatly in her wardrobe and her dirty clothes in the laundry each night.

I think the more they see you do stuff like this too, the more they model that as well.

Diane - posted on 04/08/2010

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Hi my yougest boy is two and i already get him to help me tidy his toys away. If they can get them out they can put them away.

Sherri - posted on 04/07/2010

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My son is 1 yr 9 months and he takes car of his toys before we leave, if he's not playing with them, and before he goes to bed. I helps us as parents and he likes to help clean the house when I'm doing it.

Megan - posted on 04/07/2010

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My daughter is 19.5 months and she helps me put her toys away. Every time she puts something away we clap and say good girl and she claps with us and gets a big smile on her face! She loves helping out with things. She will help me sweep and wipe up the floor and wipe off her tray on her high chair. She loves putting stuff in the garbage [of course only things that actually are garbage!].

Caroline - posted on 04/07/2010

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my daughter is 4 in june and i have always told her she needs to tidy up after herself,looking at me doing it she does it herself so at this stage there is no need to tell her!she does ask can she clean herself so she tidies her room,washes her own dishes and loves to hoover,great help!

Lisa - posted on 04/07/2010

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My daughter is 2 years and 3 months and she helps me put her toys away all the time. This has been going on since she was about 1.5 years old. She also has a few more "chores". These include helping me load and unload the wasing machine and also hanging the clothes to dry. For her its a game at the moment but it is setting a good example for her to help around the house. Im pregnant with #2 at the moment and im hoping she will help me with the baby when it comes by doing small things like getting the nappies and wipes.

Sara - posted on 04/07/2010

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It is definetly a good time to start. Then you can praise them and have them feel great about being a good helper. Also singing the "Clean up" song helps make it more fun. Children like to help, it makes them feel important.

Melissa - posted on 04/07/2010

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My daughter picks up and she is 2..we have always tried to teach her to clean up what messes she makes..weather it be toys or a spill. She helps put her clothes away in her dresser..and pick up dirty laundry and take it to the laundry room.

Nicole - posted on 04/06/2010

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my son is 19months and he helps us pick his toys up when we are cleaning house. he even tries to help us when we are picking garbage up too. he always wants to help when we are doing something.

Jane - posted on 04/06/2010

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My two year old tidies his own toys away! He has always done it since he was able to tip over the toy box at about ten months. And he will not go to bed until he has packed his toys away!! I guess if you want to teach your daughter now it's not a question of age but nice to get her in to a good habit but of course like anything kids still need their mums and dads to help from time to time

Rachel - posted on 04/06/2010

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I have a two year old that cleans up. It's not the most efficient way to clean the house but I think it's important to do it as soon as they're physically able and can understand what you're asking. They need to understand that they can't move on to another activity until they clean up the last one. That's the best way to get them to do it. Also good old fashioned drill sergentry if necessary.

Amanda - posted on 04/06/2010

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my son started at about two yrs of age with the help of mom and dad and now he is three and does it by himself most of the time, nothing wrong with them learning early not like we are putting them to work just trying to get my son to understand that if you make a mess you clean it. when he goes to a friends house he helps pick up the mess he makes before we go home I think its good for them.

Bettina - posted on 04/06/2010

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I would think around 2 or 3 years old, but my 15 month old son puts his toys away and puts away other things he plays with such as dish towels, kitchen utensils and things in the kitchen cabinets.

Melanie - posted on 04/06/2010

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If they are able to get them out then i feel they are able to put them away.Mine was bout 12-18mths.Mine are 2 and 4,both tidy up and even things like shoes,coat etc.

Elizabeth - posted on 04/06/2010

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The sooner you start the better for you. It doesn't have to be a chore. I'm not talking Mary Poppins here but my husband turns it into a little game with my children with a word game ie Elephant means put a toy in the basket, Giraffe they do a little dance. It's quite funny to watch them heuses it for unloading the dishwaser. They don't put stuff in the cupboards they just hand it to us and are never allowed to touch the cutlery. I have joint problems and can't bend down very often so the kids help me. My kids are 2 and 6.

Kerstin - posted on 04/06/2010

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Wow. Seriously? What age does he suggest, 18?? I'm with the majority here. Both of my boys started cleaning up at around 14 months--if they're old enough to make the mess they're old enough to clean it. Unless the goal is to create a spoiled, entitled child who expects the world to clean up after her. The earlier you start the easier and more natural it is for them. One of my sons is turning 2 in 4 days, and if he sees trash on the ground he puts it in the trashcan without being asked. They learned early so they now take initiative--and they're liked more for it. They get compliments about it all the time.

Oh, and one more thing, if you make cleaning up fun (singing the cleanup song, or telling them to pick up all the blue toys, then all the red, etc), then it's not some chore you make them do--it can be a game, and something they're proud to accomplish.

Beth - posted on 04/06/2010

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You could start having her help as soon as she is willing. My daughter is two and helps when we ask. Sometimes, lol! She loves to help!

Christina - posted on 04/06/2010

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My eldest started as soon as she could understand -- about 9months. By 2yrs old she would do the dusting.

I have 4 kids now and the 3 oldest (almost 8yrs, 4yrs and almost 3 yrs) do washing, help cook, sweep up their messes under the dinner table.... They also unstack the dishwasher - except the sharp knives.

Cat - posted on 04/06/2010

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When my girls were 2 1/2 they had a nanny when I was at work - she was fab, firm but kind. She had them tidying their toys away at the end of every day, though she kept it simple (soft toys in one bin, plastic ones in another). They wouldn;t do it for me - they still don't and they're 3 1/'2 now! - but they did for her. I don't think this is unusual - often children known they can push it more with parents than with other carers, so don't beat yourself up! I occasiojnally have success, usually when I make a game of it ('who can be first to have their things in the box?' or bribe them with treats), so they do understand the idea of it - it's just they' rather be doing other things! Good luckand persevere, and above all don't fret too much! I have decided now I won;t tidy up mid=day as it just gets untidied - I leave it til they're in bed (unless as is so often he case I collapse in bed at the same time, with them!)

Shyreen - posted on 04/06/2010

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I have to agree i have 2 girls 2 & 3yrs old & they both tidy up & clean their rooms so i dont think its ever too early once they r walking & playing with them.

Michelle - posted on 04/06/2010

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my son is 2 and he already picks up his toys he started around 1 and he does it fine clap and c heer when she is all done make it a game

Shannon - posted on 04/05/2010

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My daughter is 22 months and puts her toys away without issue. We always said, if you're old enough to make the mess, you're old enough to learn how to put your toys away ... and believe it or not it worked. She does it on her own and without issue. The key, I believe, is to always say it and teach it with love, kindness and patience.

Megan - posted on 04/05/2010

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My husband also questions "putting the children to work" but my motto is, if you can get it out, you can put it away! Or for those under 5, help put it away.

We find with our daughter (2) that its really easy to get her to help put toys away and we make it a game. "quick, how fast can you put the blocks in the box? Wow! That's so fast, how many more can you put away?" Even my husband has started playing this game with her. Even if you put away 10 blocks for every one she does, its still instilling that sense of responsibility for themselves.

Lots of praise and encouraging them to put away one toy before getting out a new one. I try to keep 10 toys in easy reach and rotate them now and again to keep it fresh. It also helps me if we forget to do it together so I don't have much to tidy up!

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My daughter is 17 months now and has been doing it for a while. I'm sure in time your 4 year old will start. Just talk to them as your doing it and they'll follow through. Goodluck!

Andrea - posted on 04/05/2010

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my daughter is 2 and she helps pick up her toys we sing a song so she is ok with doing it, "clean up clean up everybody everywere clean up clean up everybody do your share!"

Natasha - posted on 04/05/2010

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The sooner the better! It also depends on your house rules! My rule is pack away before taking another! One has to teach them respect of their toys and things and also to respect your house and the rules of it!

Because at the end of the day who has to do the cleaning!.....remember your back!!

Lydia - posted on 04/05/2010

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I agree the earlier you teach your child to pick after himself the better it is believe me I have a granddaughter who still does not do it , because my daughter did not push the issue.
My granddaughter is 14 yrs old ok

Katy - posted on 04/05/2010

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Your husband is being super overprotective. Four is late for teaching to pick up. A one year old is perfectly capable of being taught to pick up and organize in fact it is best to start these things earlier then you don't have to fight with an older child who is all of a sudden expected to do things.

[deleted account]

I have a 15month and a 2 year old as well as a 10 year old ..... and all 3 of my kids have learnt how to tidy up their toys from their 1st birthday!!! The younger the better .... it is never to early to learn to have respect for your belongings. While the youngest doesnt actually pick up alot he still does his share and is doing more and more everyday. we play a game where I set the oven timer to 5 mintues and we try and pick up all the toys before the timer goes off so it makes pack up time fun and a challenge!!

Renee - posted on 04/05/2010

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I think that is a question for each individual child, but I have two boys 4 and 2. My oldest puts his toys away when asked to help clean. My two year old is just now starting, of course he needs more help. We have made up a "clean up" song when my four year old was younger and now works for the younger also. It makes cleaning up fun.

Anne - posted on 04/05/2010

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With my daughter its a struggle to this day and she`s 4 but in the end she does it, and has known how from 2 yrs old. My son is 19 months and we started to get him to pick up last month, he`s not great at it but he enjoys doing it. I think she`s more then old enough to do it other wise they get use to you doing it for them and don't want to do it for themselves. best of luck

Laura - posted on 04/05/2010

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4 is not too young to start tidying--I have a 4 yr old and a 2 yr old. But the trick is to be specific and divide an area into small sections. Let's find all things that go on the shelf! or let's pick up all the books or do you see things that should go in the toy box? Walk her through the motions step by step the first few times have her do the work with you right there and ask her questions about where things go so that she is thinking about what she is doing. Make it fun and not a chore. You can even use a timer so it is like a race. Let see how fast we can do it so we can go to the park! Then when you feel that she is ready to take care of some picking up by herself. Give her a small area or a specific task--one that you have shown her how to do--like go pick up your shoes and put them in the closet, or pick up the books and put them on the shelf. One job at a time, not a long list. My 4 yr old is a great helper, my 2 yr old is learning to be a great helper. My 4 yr old can pick up and put away when prompted. My two year old can do small tasks when directed task by task. But if I said go clean your room, they would both be completely overwhelmed at this age. Begin slowly and teach the specific task, and don't go back behind her and redo it. As she gets older and more practiced, you will be grateful that you taught her at an early age to take responsibility for her space.

Yvonne - posted on 04/05/2010

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if he thinks she is to young..then tell HIM to tidy up after her everytime....he will soon change his tune!

Yvonne - posted on 04/05/2010

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I started encouraging my son to put his toys away from the age of 1.....if its something they have always done and can always remember doing its so much easier!....if the child is old enough to get the toys out to play with then they are old enough to put them away!....it also teaches them to look after what they have.

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