Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Cleanup Time

Many of us struggle to get our children to clean up after their play. It seems like a chore to us as well as to them. At times we land into a battle, which leads to much yelling and frustration. I have reflected on it and analyzed it in terms of child psychology. If we keep cleanup matter-of-fact and have a positive attitude towards it ourselves the children will be more cooperative. I have listed down some simple tips to start with:

1.     Never say ‘clean up’, say ‘let’s clean up’, so the child doesn’t feel how she would get this insurmountable job done. If you make her believe that you are with her in it and you will help her do it, she will feel that cleanup is doable. Don’t worry that she may want you to clean up with her all the time. Trust me she won’t do it forever.

2.     Balance it out- there would be times when your child would be too exhausted after play to put away her toys and she may or may not tell you that. On those days just do it yourself. By doing this you are indicating that you understand and it’s no big deal to clean up. Next time she will do it more willingly. Remember you are setting up an example all the time.

3.     Never make cleanup look like a compulsion. If she says, ‘I won’t clean up because I don’t want to, then you can say, ‘Ok, I will do it’. You may think that she doesn’t care or she didn’t even pay attention to it, or she will tell you that all the time, but you have to believe that something is going through her mind and she will get the message that it’s not so bad to clean up after all.

4.     Give logical reasons why you should put away your things in their proper place. You can say things like ‘If you don’t put your crayons back in their place, next time you won’t know where to find them’.

My 6-year old puts her things away and it’s ingrained into her. I help her a bit as and when she needs it or I feel like helping her, but I think my job is done, she has the right attitude to put away her things and she knows why it is important. It required much patience in the beginning, but now it’s a breeze.


  1. Great blog Chhavi. Love your tips & agree that children need to have clean-up as a part of their usual routine to avoid unnecessary fuss & stress. We also do a one-toy-clean-up routine, the kids do not get to play with another toy if they have not cleaned up the first one. This also prevents from toys from piling up. - Sharoni

    1. You might want to refrain from doing so as sometimes the children like to mix the toys up and play especially when they are doing pretend play or inventing their own ways of playing with different toys. Making a rule of playing with one toy at a time might hamper their creativity and divergent thinking.