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3 y/o not putting toys away

My 3 y/o son started refusing to pick up his toys. I told him I was going to throw toys away if left on floor, and said he wanted me to throw them away. I took all the toys out of his room for the weekend. He's starting to care that his toys are gone. I think we may be making progress...

Does anybody have any other ideas to get him to know mommy will not do it for him. He's very stubborn.


Asked by AngelaSiefkin at 11:18 AM on Feb. 8, 2010 in Preschoolers (3-4)

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Answers (7)
  • The only way I can get my 2 year old to clean up his toys is to make it fun. Sing and dance around and make it look like it's a blast to clean up. Lol. =) He gets excited and joins in after I've put up 1 or 2 toys myself.

    Answer by Krystal.Ingalls at 11:28 AM on Feb. 8, 2010

  • How funny! You expect a 3 year old to put toys away. By himself.

    Never make threats. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If not your child will not respect you. That is what he has just learned.

    It is unreasonable and overwhelming to expect a 3 year old to put toys away on their own. It may be like asking you to do advanced calculus if you never took a college math course.

    If you want him to be able to help put his toys away you have to have not very many toys and a very good system. Only allow a few toys to be out at a time. Some 'experts' say less than 10. Others should be packed away or in cupboards he can't get into.

    Then what's the big deal about you helping him. We always made it a game and were done in 5 minutes. I think 5 min of fun with your kids is a lot better than threats and unrealistic expectations.

    Answer by Gailll at 11:28 AM on Feb. 8, 2010

  • If you want him to take responsibility for his actions (obviously he made the mess, so he should clean it all up), I have found it helpful to stand a designate what gets put away. I tell my son pick up all the blocks and then come see me. Then after all the blocks are up, I tell him to pick up all the legos, etc. That way he's not overwhelmed with seeing the mess as a whole, but individual things at a time. That and it's helpful too because everything gets put in it's drawer and where it belongs. My son has no problem picking his stuff up when you separate it. It's a problem when he looks at the entire mess. Then his tummy hurts and 'he can't do it'. Just designate and break it up.

    Answer by midnightshadow2 at 11:41 AM on Feb. 8, 2010

  • My daughter will be 3 in May. For us, picking up toys is a ritual. My daughter HELPS, though... she doesn't do it herself. At first I would put all her stuffed animals in a pile by their bucket and sit closely with her, helping her put them in one-by-one (starting around 15 or 16 months). Then I could separate things into piles for her and she would go through one category at a time -- if she wasn't into it, I would "race" her to see who could get a category picked up first. We're still kind of in that phase. I think it will be awhile before she's ready to just tackle a whole room. They still need help and guidance at 3. I would also just have set times of the day to pick up toys... before bath, before nap or school, whatever works in your schedule.

    Answer by EmilySusan at 12:24 PM on Feb. 8, 2010

  • OMG!!! mine said the same thing. the only thing i can do is help him and he does it fast or threaten him with a nap. sometimes he has a time out until he's ready to pick them up. UGH! i feel ya sister!

    Answer by angevil53 at 1:44 PM on Feb. 8, 2010

  • I don't think it is funny at all that you expect a 3 year old to put away their toys. If my son makes the mess he cleans it up (he turned 3 in Dec.). I don't make threats, I just explain that it is time to clean up now. If he choses not to listen he goes into time out. When he gets out he needs to clean up the toys, if he still won't he goes back in. Since I have been very consistent with this for a while he usually doesn't fight. I do agree that if a lot of toys are out it can be overwhelming for a little one. We try to play with one toy and clean up before using another, which helps. If there are a lot of toys out I will help him, but he needs to do most of the clean up and of course singing or racing through cleanup makes it go quicker!

    Answer by mazonmom at 5:09 PM on Feb. 8, 2010

  • sometimes people kill me when they act like 3 year olds are unable to learn... thats the point of being a parent to teach them. i have started to clean up and make it seem fun like the previous poster. of course they may give you trouble.. they're brand new.. but they're not dumb! the only dumb one is the parents who think "this is too much" and "you're going too far"... you have to start somewhere... that dnt mean throw him across the room and scream at the top of your lungs! be patient.

    Answer by rahrahsmama at 10:39 PM on Feb. 8, 2010