What are some fun ways to encourage a toddler to put their toys away?
Raising a toddler seems to appear fun and exciting since you get to have a “little adult” companion in your home. Toddlers are natural followers, especially when it comes to household chores that adults do every day. They love to participate in cooking, washing the dishes and doing the laundry.
On the other hand, parents of toddlers would agree that when it comes to putting their toys away after play time, it seems to be the hardest job ever! And worse, they may throw a tantrum if you insist that they ought to be responsible for their toys. Sounds pretty stressful, isn’t it?
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Toddler Toys And Why It’s Hard For Them To Clean Up
1. Toddlers May Use Tiredness As An Excuse
For toddlers, cleaning up their toys appears to be a difficult task. They love playing and messing up the whole room but apparently, they’ll say they are already too tired to put their toys away. So let’s say you give in to their plea today. Well, you may have to get your nerves ready, since they’ll use this excuse EVERYDAY.
2. They Tend To Have A Sense Of Attachment Towards Their Toys
Some experts say that toddlers see their toys as an extension of themselves. They often like to leave their toys where they’ve left them, so that they can play with the same toys again the next day.
This idea may be reasonable enough for toys that are inside a play room, but this may not be acceptable for toys in the other areas of your home like in your bedroom, kitchen, living room, or even in your bathroom. Scattered toys are not appealing to the eyes and at the same time, they are potential hazards for slip accidents.
3. They May Feel Overwhelmed With The Huge Mess
Well, this one’s pretty obvious. Just the idea of cleaning up the whole room with toys that are scattered all over is too overwhelming for a tiny kid, especially if he knows he’ll be doing it alone. He might not want to spend the entire afternoon cleaning things up and end up asleep on the floor instead.
What Parents Can Do: Fun Ways To Put Their Toys Away
Knowing the possible reasons of your toddler’s sluggishness with regards to toy keeping, parents need to be extra creative in a way that they could encourage the little child to put back his own toys in their right places. If you are running out of ideas, here are some of the best suggestions to start with:
1. Convert Clean-Up Time To Play Time
Most parents would agree that toddlers get a sudden energy boost when you mention the word “play”.
Create a fun time while ensuring that they help in cleaning up. For example, get their empty toy basket and start shooting toys in it from a distance. Tell them you’re going to play “basketball” but you’ll be using the toys as the balls. While you’re having fun tossing the toys in one by one, the little tot is enjoying as well. What’s more, he will not realize that he has put all the toys in the basket in no time!
2. Let’s Do The Magic Trick!
This one’s a sure hit and would highly likely get your toddler’s attention!
Toddlers love stories, they love it A LOT! So you can make up a story that tells of a magical house that cleans itself up when the mom says so. You may apply reverse psychology on your little child by saying, “I wonder if our house has magic powers too” or “I hope I could also experience living in a magical house like in the story”. You’ll be surprised that when you get back, the toys are all in place and your toddler wearing a big smile in his/her face.
3. Sing And Dance Duo
If you’re good at making up nursery rhymes then you may opt to make one specifically for cleaning up! You can also get song ideas from children’s shows like Barney or just browse online. Match the song with some dance steps that incorporate sorting and picking up things and putting them into baskets. It will surely delight your toddler and is a great way to make him/her participate in the cleaning process, without him thinking that he is actually cleaning!
4. Create A Challenge Game
In a toddler’s point of view, a challenge is much more acceptable than an authoritarian order. Both of you will have fun cleaning up by creating challenge games. For instance, you may say “In the count of 10, let’s see who among us could pile up the most number of storybooks.” You may also try, “I bet you couldn’t beat me in cleaning up. Let’s try if you can put all the blocks in the box before I finished washing the dishes.”
There are lots of fun ways to teach our young kids the value of cleaning up. Being firm and authoritative may be necessary, however, there are also times when we need to use a little creativity and minimize the tension between us and our little one. If you can do things the fun way, then why not? The most important thing is that we have introduced the good values to our kids in a less stressful way.