HOW TO...Clean up toys without tears
When a child starts to take its toys from their box alone, it also means it can put them back.
We can tell the child: when you no longer want to play with that toy, put it back in its place! It would be ideal if that also worked, even if only from the tenth try, but so far we’ve discovered it to be pure science fiction.
We can’t blame ourselves, and neither can we blame the child. What we can do is patiently and together with the child clean the toys up, making the child participate and think it a part of play. This needs lots of patience, nerves, but also time.
Here are some advice which can help:
- the size of the toy box: when you choose toy boxes, don’t make them too big, it is good enough that they are smaller to medium sized, and that each holds, for example, a single type of toys.
- color of toy boxes – choose toy boxes in various colors. That way, you’ll be able to sort the toys by different criteria and you can always make a game out of cleaning up toys, while the child also learns colors: yellow box holds all the balls, blue all the cars, in the red one we put all the bricks, etc. Sorting can also be done by colors, if you have time: in the yellow one, we place toys of the same yellow color, into the blue the same blue toys, and similar.
- leave just one box within the child’s reach, and when it asks for another, insist that it first cleans up the first box before giving the next to it.
- you can put stickers with numbers, letters or symbols on the boxes, and when the two of you are cleaning, the child can learn those concepts. More about this you can read in our text about the sorting game HERE
- markers, crayons, pencils, chalks and similar you can place in wider baskets which will make it easier for the child to return them there alone, but you can also use plastic or metal cups.
- paper on which the child draws can also be kept in a larger box, keeping them all in one place and easy to take out and collect.
- clay – used and dirty you should, of course, immediately throw away, and the rest you can keep in plastic or airtight bags and you should also keep those bags in a special box or basket
- separate small from large toys – make it a special game of sorting, learning the child concepts of big-small, large-tiny
- you can sort by different characteristics: everything that has wheels in one box, all that is a brick into a different one, all soft into the third, etc
- and in the end, toys which are no longer used you can just give away, teach the child that it is OK, and that it should not be sorry to throw away toys which are torn, in short, throw away everything unnecessary immediately.