Get Your Child to Clean Up Toys (Tips That Work)

You often wonder how you can get your child to clean up toys after they are done playing.

Whether your child is a toddler or a preschooler, instilling a cleaning habit in them is essential. As much as they love creating a mess, they should learn how to clean it up without being fussy about it.

A study says that giving your child household chores at an early age can potentially help them build self-reliance, a sense of responsibility, and learn values. Of course, that being said, it does not mean making them clean the sink and other complicated chores.

The best way is to start with the mess they make.

clean up toys

Teaching Your Child to Clean Up After Themselves

When you’re raising your child, one important question to consider is when and how to teach them to clean up after themselves. This is an essential skill that your kids should know because it will last them in the future. This article will give you tips on how to start teaching them and how to deal with their refusal.

Before teaching your child how to clean up, you first need to have a place to store their toys so they know where to keep them.

Secondly, you need to start small and have them keep their toys a little at a time. Don’t bring out too many toys for them to clean up because they can get confused and not know where to start. Having too many toys to put away can get too much for them, and they won’t be able to clean them up. As you can expect, they probably won’t react well and would start throwing a fit. You’d end up having much more of a mess than before!

Teaching your kids how to clean can start at many stages of their life, and there are different ways to teach them depending on how old they are. But try to teach your kids early so they can have a headstart in preschool singapore!


Yes, you can start teaching babies starting from ages nine months old to clean up! If your baby is a very observant child, it will be easier for you to teach them as well. You need to show them how to clean up because they will emulate you. Start by explicitly saying that you are cleaning up after being done playing with toys. You can also probe them to help you by giving some toys to keep as well.


Toddlers are to be engaged at all times, so teaching them to clean will be more effective by using a clean-up song. They will find cleaning up more fun, rather than it being a chore. Counting the toys that they have cleaned also helps as they have a goal. As they get older, add more toys for them to clean so they can progress.

At this stage, you can give them explicit instructions, such as how and where the toys are to be kept. Point out the places, tell them the instructions specifically, or choose what they would like to clean first. This gives the toddlers something to work on and teaches them to be more proactive as well.

How to deal with refusals

Telling your toddlers to clean up toys is, of course, not that easy because they can get quite rebellious and not listen to instructions. You will face refusals from time to time, but there is a way you can turn to when you are met with such a problem. Giving them a time frame and counting down is effective in getting them to clean up. However, if they still refuse to clean, you can help them by giving them the toys.

It is important to remember that you should be consistent because we all learn through repeated exposure. Kids usually start to clean up by themselves after a while once you begin the countdown.


Once your kids are old enough to be in preschool, they are able to handle more responsibilities and clean more on their own, not requiring as much help.

However, if they have many toys, remember not to have them clean all of them at once. When they get older, they will naturally have more toys, but no one can clean that much at such a young age. Keep some of the toys out of sight, so they only bring some of them at a given time. You can then rotate the kinds of toys they play with, keeping them engaged so they won’t be bored fast.

It is easier for smaller toys to have a large plastic box for them to dump when they clean up. This makes the task easier, so they don’t get discouraged easily.

As your child gets older, they start to learn how to read as well. You can give them checklists for them to check off as they finish each clean-up task. Placing pictures beside the words can also help them to recognize them better. Not only do your kids learn how to clean, but they also learn how to read and recognize words as well! Give them fun things to check off, like stickers or stamp chops.

Having expectations

For children, it is helpful to have expectations when they are cleaning up. This gives them goals to work on and prepares them.

  • Give them a heads-up a few minutes before you want them to start cleaning up. This ensures that your kids have time to cool down so they don’t get upset having to stop playing immediately.
  • Give them a certain number of toys to work on as well, or give them toy by toy to put away. Put a box near them so that it is easier for them too.
  • Cleaning up can get boring at times, so to keep your child engaged, you could add some games during clean-up! These games could be in the form of cleaning up by colors or shapes.

For example, you could tell them to find and keep the blue toys first or the round ones first. You could also have different boxes for differently-colored toys. For animals, you can also test them by getting them to categorize the types of animals, like mammals or underwater sea creatures. This gets their brain working, so you complete two tasks with one!

However, don’t feel pressured to turn every clean-up session into a game because you don’t want them to get used to it. Once they stop having games, they might stop wanting to clean up as well. They should know that cleaning up is a responsibility and is not always fun.

Some more tips…

  • Share the work: you can’t expect your little one to do it all by themselves as it can confuse them. Keep it fun and work together on the tasks your child finds challenging.
  • Give instructions: telling kids just to do it will make them wondering where to start. Take it easy and instruct them to start by putting in small toys and then the bigger ones. Give one task at a time.
  • Have a flexible approach: if they are in the middle of completing a puzzle, don’t tell them to undo it all and do it the next day. Ask them to keep it aside without having to undo it.
  • Dedicate a small space: to avoid overwhelming your child, keep shelves, boxes, and other storage spaces where they can put their toys back in.
  • Establish a routine: at first, cleaning up toys can be a task for kids, but once they get the hang of it, they will automatically perform it after playing, like a ritual.


Teaching your kids to clean up toys requires patience and consistency. Set a model behavior yourself, so they learn and follow you from the start. That way, your kids will be more compliant when you start teaching them because it is already a habit that they see from you. Gradually, your kids will be proactive in cleaning up, so you don’t have to instruct them every time anymore!

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