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Am I being unreasonable with my 4 year old?

My dds have a hella lot of toys. I don't even know where they came from. So her room is trashed- AGAIN. Is it wrong for me to expect her to clean it up? When I ask her to do it (when I ask her to do anything actually) she responds with some sentence that makes no sense whatsoever. For example:

Me: Please clean up your room or you'll lose your toys.
Her: If I lose them then I won't be able to go to Disneyland
Me: Disneyland has nothing to do with this, if you don't clean up your toys I am going to throw them in the trash.
Her: Okay. Can I throw my toys in the garbage?

I shouldn't threaten to toss her toys if I don't mean it but I don't know what else to do. Sometimes I feel like I am this terrible mom who has NO clue how to handle her child in stressful situations. My mind goes blank and I have to walk away before I start yelling at her.
I don't want to clean up her mess. I have enough to do but she refuses to do it.
I have considered locking her in her room until it's cleaned (mom did that to me more than a few times) or actually chucking her toys (mom did that too.) How do you reason with a four year old?

Answer Question

Asked by ajbrownies at 2:02 PM on Feb. 10, 2011 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 13 (1,135 Credits)
Answers (8)
  • Make her clean them up what the heck are you wrong she is the child and you are the parent if she doesn't clean them up, you clean it & donate them don't fall for any of her bs excuses, or sad faces handle it the more you procrastinate the more she is going to think that this is OK


    Answer by ExtremlyUnique at 2:06 PM on Feb. 10, 2011

  • WHen my almost-4-year-old refuses to pick up her toys -- I warn her that she is about to lose them -- then I gather up everything she left on the floor (or out of place) and explain that "I guess you just don't like/want/need these toys since you didn't put them up" then I put them in a large garbage bag and put them away for a week or so -- before giving them back (if she has kept her room semi-straight during that time) -- otherwise my stack of toys would just keep growing. I only had to do this a couple of times. Now, if she stalls picking-up and sees me going to get a trash bag -- she scrambles to clean her room!

    Answer by BaileysMom476 at 2:07 PM on Feb. 10, 2011

  • I have a 4 year old who will give me the same nonsense, literally. So instead of having to stress over it I sorted all her toys into different small bins, like dolls, puzzles, etc and put a lock on her closet door and the bins in there. Since she wants to change her clothes nonstop all day long, this works out great. I ask her what would you like to play with, get it out and if she wants something else, the first bin has to be put back up.

    Answer by gonefishin at 2:07 PM on Feb. 10, 2011

  • I would make it a game, its works great on my 4 and 5 year old nephews who never want to clean up. I sit on the chair and put on a song that they like. Then i say can you find me all the toys that have the color red, if they are red put them in the toybox! They go running around like crazy fools to prove to me they know the color red. They ask me from time to time and i clap and say good job! You are so smart! Then i say, can you find all the toys that are have the color blue!! and so on and so forth. They look forward to showing me they know their colors and me calling them so smart and they dont even realize they are cleaning. The song makes it so much more fun and something they can dance to while they do it and keep learning too. I also use shapes, thinks that are square, or circles. They have so much fun and i get to sit there and there is no fighting.

    Answer by Bobbysgurl at 2:10 PM on Feb. 10, 2011

  • I always found it best to get stackable bins and label them for the different toys. Every night I would go in and help them put their things into the correct bin. 4 is pretty young to deal with the mess. Kids get very overwhelmed and have no idea how to begin. If you have a 'doll bin', say, "Let's start by putting all the dolls in here. Let's go, you get that one." Point them out and help. If she flat refuses to help, then you are dealing with a different issue.

    Answer by Marwill at 2:13 PM on Feb. 10, 2011

  • My dd is only 2.5 so maybe I am being too easy here, but I think "Clean up your room" might be a little abstract for your dd. She might need clearer direction, as in "These toys all need to be put in your closet/on the shelf" or something more specific like "There can be no toys on the floor." Does everything have a clear place that it needs to go to be put away? Having bins or something like that might help. I don't think you should do it for her at all, but you may need to help her and oversee this for a while until she gets the hang of it. And if you give a threat of a consequence you have to back it up. Maybe sort thru her toys and get rid of what she doesn't play with so there isn't so much she can get out in the first place. Also, try to keep up with it during the day, as in we clean up our toys before snack, before lunch, before we watch a video, before bed, so it doesn't get to be so much that needs to be picked up. GL

    Answer by MaryMW at 2:16 PM on Feb. 10, 2011

  • I have a 4 year old son, also with a crazy amount of toys. I don't expect him to clean up everything himself...maybe I should, but I think it gets a bit overwhelming when there are toys everywhere. So, I do help him pick up and help direct him by having him pick all of the blocks 1st, etc. Then when it's more manageable, he can take over. I also noticed most of his mess is getting alot of toys out to search for the toy he actually wants to play with. When I went through his toys before Christmas I bought several smaller bins and smaller toy boxes and organized them a little while donating things he outgrew. He's been pretty good about putting things in their place since.

    Answer by jme9606 at 2:19 PM on Feb. 10, 2011

  • My son is 6 he will not clean his room unless I am in there directing him on what to pick up and even then its an issue. I gave him a whole day to clean his room one time and he didn't do anything so I took all the toys on the floor and put them in a storage closet (I can't bring myself to throw them out) the next day I had to do it again with the rest of his toys because he refused to put those away too. I took every toy out of his room for over a week and it made no diff. he still won't clean up after himself unless I am on his ass.

    Answer by kadensmom04 at 2:30 PM on Feb. 10, 2011

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