4 Things to Consider When Training Kids to Tidy Up

“Hi! Come in! Sorry, my place is a bit chaotic right now.” Have you had this conversation before?

Yes, of course! It is natural to have toys lying around when you have kids in the house. Sometimes you step on a block or sit on a doll. If only my child can help me clean up, but she is too young. Or is she?

Toys are great tools to teach our kids variety of things, from creativity to motor skills, but do you know that it can also be a way to teach them to be responsible at an early age? Like having a daily routine of tidying up their toys after playtime. We can’t expect kids from 2 -3 years old understand when we say “okay kids, time to clean up!” They will just look at you with this look like “are we playing again?”

Here are 4 things to consider when training kids to tidy up.


When should we start training our kids to tidy up? Your kid will tell you when he is ready. Have you heard of the phrase “Monkey see Monkey do?” Our kids are copy cats. They copy what they see. So when the time comes that they want to try to do things on their own, encourage and guide them. This is the first step to let them be independent as well as being responsible.


As moms, we have our own expectation on how tidy is tidy and how dirty is dirty. But we should not expect so much from our kids. There are different forms of children’s capability. We must remember that they are still young, they can’t do what we can. They will do their best to please us, and once they see that we are disappointed, they will feel discouraged to continue and try and explore new things.


When do we ask them to tidy up? We must have a routine for them. Set a specific time of the day when it is time to tidy up. Like every 5 o’clock in the afternoon. At first, we can use a game with colors in the guise of “Simon says.” Put the green toy in the green box. Or something like a game of “Bring me.” Bring me the blue airplane and then guide him to put it in the toy box. Do this daily, and in time. When they see the clock strike 5 o’clock, they will automatically know that it’s time to tidy up.

Role model

Parents are great role models for children. When they see that, we as parents do something, they will happily follow our example. I remember I have these boxes where I put my children’s toys. I have them in different colors for coding and aesthetic purposes. One day, my daughter saw me picking up her toys. Suddenly, on her own, she picked up some of her toys and put it inside the toy box. I was surprised that I just looked at her with this huge smile and said, “wow! Thank you for helping mommy.” Her face was beaming with happiness when she heard me praise her for what she did. She got more excited and continued picking up her toys, so I let her help me even though she was putting the toys in a different box. Little steps for I’m sure that in the future, she’ll learn how to tidy up properly.

It is innate for children to want to play as soon as they wake up until it’s time to sleep. Let’s remember that when it becomes a habit, tidying up will not be called chores in the future. Tidying up will instil in their mind that cleaning after themselves is natural and part of their daily life. This is also a way of teaching them to be independent and take care of themselves, which will be beneficial in the future.  

Our quote for today is:

Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex.

 – Norman Vincent Peale