Getting a 3 year old to clean up after playtime

Filed under: Toddlers Preschoolers, Development/Milestones: Babies

Ever since my kid turned three I've started to be more of a stickler about asking him to clean up his toys after he's done playing with them. But now...well... we're nearly always engaged in a battle of wills that usually involves counting to five and a threat of a time-out. Granted, counting is magic in our house. When we count to five, whatever we ask does in fact get done. Time outs are a rare occurrence. But still, I hate even going that far.

So I'm wondering: how do you get your child to voluntarily clean up toys before moving on to a new activity? Or even--at the end of the entire play time, before dinner or bedtime? Is there some fun way to get your kid to do this that doesn't a) involve jelly beans (yes I've gone there) or b) threats of a time-out, or c) ends with you doing it yourself?

I see kids in my classroom who are used to cleaning up their things at home and carry this responsibility to things in the classroom. Usually these kids are also the ones who know how to generalize this--and are willing to help others clean up too. I want my kid to be this kind of kid, and for the most part I'm fairly certain he will be. But the mighty force of a three year old's will to do things his way has surprised me.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.