Around preschool age 4-5 is when picking up a child’s own toys moves from a community project to your child’s responsibility. I teach preschool so I spend my days playing with kids and then cleaning up with them. I have some very good clean uppers and some not so good clean uppers.
Invariably, when I ask a child who is less than enthusiastic about cleaning up, who cleans up his toys at home, he tells me his mom does. Well, there you go.
If you are tired of toys lying all over the bedroom or worse your living room, here is an effective way to get your child to learn to clean up after himself.
Simply say to your child that there are a lot of toys on the floor. Would he like to clean them up or would he like you to clean them up. When he answers that he thinks you should, say “The advantage of you picking them up is that you get to keep them. If I pick them up, I am going to keep them. I will let you think on it for a minute. If by lunchtime it is all still out, I will know your decision.”
The thing with love and logic is that you have to give choices you are willing to live with yourself. If you don’t follow through with keeping his toys, then all you did was waste your breath and your child learned nothing. Be sure that you can stick to your word. And then let him feel the consequence. If you want him to earn things back then the next time say “If you pick up all your toys today, you will earn back one that you lost yesterday.”
We want to put the problem on the child. When their problem becomes our problem, we are not teaching responsibility.