11 stress-free ways to encourage children to clean up

It is frustrating when children refuse to clean up their toys and books after playing or reading. Involving your children in the cleaning up helps them to value their possessions, learn about natural consequences, and teaches them to be responsible.

Here are some fun ways to motivate your children to clean up after each play session. 

1. Play a clean up song.

The children like the Clean Up Song from Super Simple Songs. It is 1.5 minutes long and that should be about the time the kids put their toys away. If they don’t finish by the time the song ends, I will repeat the song. 

2. Turn the clean up session into a game.

“Let’s throw the balls into the box. Let’s stack the playmags as high as possible!”

3. Create time challenges.

“Let’s see if we can finish them in 2 minutes!”

4. Assign duties.

“You can keep the red blocks, I will keep the blue ones.”

“You can keep 3 cars at one go, I will keep 4 cars.”

5. Give choices.

Works well for toddlers who crave autonomy: “Do you want to put away the playmags or lego first?”

6. Create a pretend play scenario or story.

“Your stuffed toys are crying. They want to go back to their homes!”

7. Break down the task.

“You can start with the books, then the dolls.”

8. Provide directions for young children

lego storage children refuse to clean up our little playnest

“Put the books on the shelves. Pack the kitchen toys into the blue bag.” You might want to label the storage containers or shelves.

9. Encourage them positively.

book storage organization clean up children refuse to clean up our little playnest

“You cleared up the mess, that was so responsible of you!” 

10. Explain the reasons.

“It is easier to look for your toys when they are returned to their original places.” (teach natural consequences)

“We respect your toys by putting them away after playing.” (value toys and possessions)

“This is our home and we want to keep it neat and tidy.” (teach responsibility and life skills)

11. Role model.

The children are watching. As parents, we have to role model and clean up after ourselves.

Make it a habit

Make cleaning up part of the play session. Start when the kids are young. and over time, it will become a habit. You can set it as part of a daily routine: eg. everybody has to check that playroom is neat before bedtime etc.

Do you make your children clean up their play rooms? Share some of your valuable tips with us!

Need ideas for playroom organization? Get them here!

Learn more about other ways to encourage your children to clean up:


FREE Positive Parenting Learning Series Here!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *