Wednesday, November 3

How to Get Your Child to Put Toys Away

Children toys

If you frequently trip over a building block, a doll, or a race car, you understand the difficulties associated with encouraging smaller children to put away their toys. The following are some ideas for encouraging children to clean up after themselves and maintain a neat home.

Make precise and targeted requests.

When you ask your child to put away a variety of items at the same time, you risk children forgetting at least one of your requests — or purposely skipping a few. Make one particular request at a time, such as "Please replenish the bin on the shelf with your blocks." Once your child has completed one activity, you can request that they put away a different toy.

Requests should be made in the form of a command, not a question, such as "Would you kindly clean up your blocks?" By posing a question, you allow the child to respond, "No." Additionally, unless you desire a group activity, frame the request for your child alone: "Please return your blocks to the container on the shelf," rather than "Let's tidy up the blocks."

Allow sufficient time for your child to cooperate, and repeat yourself only once.

Children, particularly young children, digest information more slowly than adults. After you make an initial request, mentally count to five to give a child time to process what you said and comply.

If after five seconds, you do not witness the desired action, repeat your request in a neutral tone followed by a possible logical consequence. For instance, If you do not properly store your blocks in the bin on the shelf, you will be unable to play with them for the rest of the day. Tomorrow, you can play with them.

Recite the five-count in your thoughts. If your child continues to refuse to comply with your request, state the following in a neutral tone: "To be fair, you did not place the blocks in the bin on the shelf, which means you will be unable to play with them for the remainder of the day. Tomorrow, you can play with them." You can then store the blocks out of the child's reach, ensuring that the toys are not used for the rest of the day.

Maintain your composure and choose logical conclusions

Two critical components of this technique are maintaining as much calm as possible and establishing a logical outcome.

Remaining composed is beneficial. You may be frustrated, which is understandable. However, it is preferable to pay as little attention as possible to disobedience. Even negative attention can encourage the conduct to occur more frequently.

Logical consequences are significant. Creating consequences that are prolonged and make no sense to the child may result in increased irritation and refusals. For instance, it would be illogical for the child to lose a week's television time for failing to put their blocks away. Rather than that, restricting access to the toy is a logical consequence.

Appreciate the behaviours you wish to see

Draw emphasis to behaviours you wish to see more frequently. When your child does put toys away, make a point of praising them. "Good work" can be perplexing: the child may not understand what he or she did well - sitting quietly, putting toys away, or something different. Rather than that, exclaim, "Excellent job putting the blocks in the bin on the shelf!"

Praise enthusiastically and reinforce the behaviour with touch, such as a pat on the back. If your child has difficulty processing sensory stimuli, particularly tactile stimuli such as a pat on the back, you might reinforce the behaviour with a nonverbal gesture such as a thumbs up.

You do not have to continue repeating commands until you are blue in the face and cleaning up after your children. The actions above can provide a break for you and teach your children to clean up after themselves.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should be used to replace direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained practitioner.
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