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How do I get my almost 4 year old to pick up his toys???

I have tried taking away tv priveledges, taking away favorite toys and have even cancelled plans to fun places. It does not work. I have tried helping...but he just goes slower. Seriously it can take hours to pick up a bin of toys. Btw....positive encouragement and rewards are not working either.

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Asked by pampal1116 at 5:01 PM on Nov. 20, 2008 in Preschoolers (3-4)

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Answers (14)
  • Next time you ask him to pick up his toys give him a few minutes. If he hasn't started picking them up within 5 minutes grab a trash bag. Tell him the toys are going into the trash bag. If he still doesn't rush to pick up the toys then begin putting them in the trash bag. If in the end all his toys are in the trash bag, make him think the toys are going in the trash - you can put them away hidden from him. As an occassional reward bring one toy back out at a time.

    Answer by PrttyMstng at 5:09 PM on Nov. 20, 2008

  • I usually have to help my 4 year old. I tell her it's time to pick up and begin picking up a few toys myself and she'll usually join in and I just make sure she's doing most of it. That and sometimes singing and dancing while doing it will get her moving.

    Answer by Silvertears1275 at 5:15 PM on Nov. 20, 2008

  • I second the toys in the trash idea.

    Whatever discipline you use, make sure you follow through.

    Answer by MommaLucy at 5:26 PM on Nov. 20, 2008

  • at those ages, I always did it along side them, often guiding their hands when they start to get sidetracked and talking them through each and every step. Very Hands On with the whole thing with them. Not telling them to Pick Up and then going out of the room to go do something. then as they became better I backed off little by little. and I always gave direct Pick Up instreuction. like "Pick up the cars" ..."Pick up the animals"...."Pick up the Legos"- just one task at a time. Having seperste containers for each tpy type helped. for 2 reasons. one it made it easier for the child to mentally organize and sort the task and 2 the containers could be carried to the mess instead of the child taking each handfull over to the container

    Answer by Kiter at 5:38 PM on Nov. 20, 2008

  • First, break it down into stages for him.
    Don't say "pick up your toys" say "put all the blocks away." Once that's done, "put all the cars away." Sometimes the task is so big that they can't see where to start.
    Then, set a timer for each task. Let him know that if he doesn't have all the blocks put away by the time the timer goes off, they go into a sack and he doesn't get them back for a week.
    Last, follow through. If you make a threat, you MUST carry it out. Put that full sack of toys up in the attic or somewhere else he can't get to.

    Answer by kaycee14 at 6:03 PM on Nov. 20, 2008

  • This age is WONDERFUL to use one thing to your advantage!! Usually at this stage, they are into being "big" kids. Tell him "you can't pick up all these toys...I bet you CAN'T!!" and have a grin on your face. Boys are also usually very competitive....use that to your advantage as well. Tell him that you are going to "beat him by picking up the most toys...." When he DOES do it well, make sure to give him lotsa loves and kisses!!!! Reward him with smiles, hugs and getting to be a big boy. I "let" mine help me with dishes or laundry - and they LOVE to scrub the kitchen floor!!! lol GL:)

    Answer by Babylove76 at 6:39 PM on Nov. 20, 2008

  • I used to have them pick up a set number of toys.....3,5, whatever, then have them pick up a different amount..........not only do toys get picked up but also they are practicing their counting. Sometimes I'd make it a race, lets see who can pick up 5 toys faster and of course, most of the time I'd let them win :)
    you might try putting all his toys where he can't get to them & only allowhim to get out a certain amount at a time, then he can get one toy for each one he puts back.
    It's a pain in the neck but eventually he'll learn that you aren't giving in & he'll figure out it's better to go with the program..........may as well be going thru this now & teach him a valuable & dh are the bosses. It doesn't get any easier as they get older otherwise :)

    Answer by Anonymous at 6:56 PM on Nov. 20, 2008

  • If this were my son I would start by telling him he has five more minutes to play and then it is time to clean up. Then start the count down. It doesn't have to actually be 5 mintues - sometimes I only wait 20 seconds before I tick off another "minute." It can be the fastest five minutes ever or a slow five mintues. But the point is to transition him to cleaning up. Your preparing him mentally before actually doing the task. Most kids have transitions, even in school, before they start the next activity. They like to know what is comming. Then help him to pick up and encourage him as he is putting away his toys. Sing a silly clean up song, be silly and fun. Even if you don't feel it - fake it.

    Answer by frogdawg at 9:07 PM on Nov. 20, 2008

  • cont..Then over time you change it up. After a week or two helping him you still do the count down. Only you tell him that you have to do X and you will come back to help finish. Make a dare that he can't finish cleaning up half the mess before you come back to help. You can also change it up by buying an old fashioned kitchen timer and have him set it. Tell him he has until it dings to clean up the room. Practice makes perfect. Have keep at it and practice putting away his things. Don't get bent out of shape if he puts something in the "wrong" place - he's four. That would be normal. Its not going to be put back perfect. I don't like "trashing" or hiding the items. You can be honest and say that if left out after the timer goes off then it will be put away for a day.

    Answer by frogdawg at 9:13 PM on Nov. 20, 2008

  • cont.. "Trashing" an item is playing a mind game with children. I like being honest about the consequences. You are the adult and you have made a request. He did not follow through so the consequence gets put in place. It is really straight forward. At 4 a toy or item should be with held no more than half a day. For a little guy that might as well be a year. So if it happens at night he gets it back in the morning. And he gets another chance to practice cleaning up. Also being a good role model. If he sees mom and dad picking up after themselves that goes a long way. The practice what I preach goes further than do as I say method. So help him learn by being by his side and then slowly take a back seat as he learns more independence. He'll get there.

    Answer by frogdawg at 9:18 PM on Nov. 20, 2008

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