Need ideas for getting son, will be four in April, to pick up toys

Julie - posted on 03/06/2010 ( 11 moms have responded )




My son, who will be four in April, will one night pick up all his toys with no problems and then a few nights later, refuse to pick them up. He'll tell me to do, but I don't. About one week ago, we picked up all of his toys and kept them from him for one entire day. After that he was good about picking up toys, but then again tonight, he refused to pick them up so we took them away again.

I should note that we give him a 5 minute warning that it will be time to pick up toys, then I put all of his toys in the family room (there is a bin there that they go in) and set a timer usually for 5 min, but tonight set it for 10 min and then leave the room. Usually he'll pick them up, but when he refuses, then when the timer goes off, he loses the privilege of playing with those toys for the entire next day. It wasn't until last week that I decided to take all the toys away and it did seem to work, but now I wonder. Any other ideas or am I on the right track and just need to stick with it?



View replies by

Jenniffer - posted on 04/12/2010




I think you're doing fine with your son regarding picking up his toys, but you could add positive reinforcement as well. My son who just turned 3 last December knows how to pack away his toys. I used to help him at first and we sing a song he learned in Gymboree when they are keeping away their toys. Now he puts his toys in the box when we ask him to and I always praise him for the task he had made like, Thank you for packing away your toys, you're being helpful. His eyes lit up when I praise him like that, instead of just saying very good or good job.

Good luck!

Jessica - posted on 04/12/2010




i make it a game as well. we see who can pick up the most toys. we start against the wall, ready set go, run to the toys and start cleaning in a hurry. my son loves it, because it really is a game. 4 year olds do get easily distracted, all it takes is for him to see one cool toy and he forgets what he was suppose to be doing. thats why i always do it with him.

Stephanie - posted on 04/10/2010




I try to make picking up toys into a game, like singing a song and the toys should be picked up before the song is over or I count to a certain number and they find it fun to hurry up and get all the toys picked up before I get to that number.

Mystri - posted on 04/08/2010




You can make a game out of it. Or I always tell my son after he picks up his toys he will get his snack cuz I have him pick up his toys before bed.

Stina - posted on 04/06/2010




Sounds to me like you are on the right track. Stick with it- keep being consistent and understand that he will always be waiting for you to relax and will be testing to see if maybe this time he can get away with not picking up the toys.

My kids, 5 and 3, are currently earning their toys back. We cleaned out their room last Friday. After a day, we gave them a small bin of toys. They earn more of their toys back by picking up the toys they have the first time they are asked. My son was asking for his train set back today- we'll see how the day ends.

Kristen - posted on 04/05/2010




Make sure you make it a regular routine. My daughter knows that after bath time, it is time to clean up her room. Make sure cleaning up is not a task but just something that gets done every day. I was raised to view cleaning as a chore instead of a responsibility and I'm trying to raise my daughter to not hate the idea of cleaning up after herself and around the house. Instead of telling her to put the toys away we say that it's time for the toys to go to bed so they can be rested in the morning. She knows where all of her toys go and even though I have to sit in their with her, she does it all herself without having to be told a billion times. I also make a huge point of telling her what an excellent job she did every time (even if she maybe left a toy or two out).

Roxanne - posted on 04/02/2010




we use a timmer too and I usually start with him near the toy box and hand him a toy, when he throws it in I usually just say something like "Oh thank you soo much, I could never put all these toys away myself!" and from there he tries to show me just how much he can do!

Alexis - posted on 03/30/2010




I agree with many of the earlier suggestions, but have noticed with my 3.5yr old neg reinforcements or removal rarely are as effective as showing and modeling the expected behavior with positive reinforcements.
Children (up to age 8) get distracted/sidetracked easily and need some form of nudge and guidance along the way each day to remember how to get it right.
The timer is a good idea if you are working with him to accomplish the chore to keep him on task and remember not to get flustered or louder just because he doesn't respond to you right away.
Perhaps try a button board where he can account for his successes each day and of course plenty of practice...
Routine, positive reinforcement and accolades for when he does help and get it right is critical to establishing self motivation and satisfaction in himself.
Good luck.

[deleted account]

I had same problem with my boy and I asked advice from playschool teacher as she always managed to get all of the kids to clean up before going home and she said that you have to make it his job boys love doing jobs for their mammys but not to except him to do it all on his own help him and eventually it will be a good habit for him to pick up. It worked for me and now at 9 he helps out a lot at home with dishes sweeping and stilll tidying his room. Good luck

Emili - posted on 03/07/2010




the problem is probably that you are leaving the room. 4 year olds get distracted too easily. try to make it a game. ask him to see how fast he can pick up his toys. if you leave a 4 year old alone in a room full of toys it is unrealistic to expect them to pick them all up without stopping to play.

Rebecca - posted on 03/07/2010




what about reinforcing with positive words and a reward system when he DOES do it. positive reinforcement is usually more effective than punishment -- i think what you are doing is fine, but if you added lots of positive reinforcement when he does actually do it, i think it will work better.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms