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Clearing up routine - By RUTH LIEW

Get your kid to put away his own toys.
OVER the years, I have asked many parents how they managed to get their children to clear up after playing with their toys. Apart from those who choose to pick up after their children, the parents who want their children to do things for themselves have tried many time-tested solutions with their difficult subjects.
One mother of two boys, aged two and five, tells her children that the toys belong to whoever picks them up.
Before picking up the toys, she would make a big deal about how excited she is to get the “Captain” toy because both boys have refused to pick it up and keep it.If the boys do not move quickly enough, the toy becomes hers, at least for a while.According to her, they usually come running.The key is to follow through and remove the toys that the children do not help put away. Most of the time, her boys only pick up one or two toys. They still need to be prompted to clear up.

The parents of a girl who is almost three, are proud that their child occasionally picks up the toys she has played with.They find it easier to get her to pick up her toys when they use specific language and ask her to do a limited task.For example, when they tell her: “Let’s pick up your blocks before we bring out the playdough.” Or “Please put away ... (list one thing at a time).”

When the toddler obeys, she is rewarded with a small prize from a prize bag (prepared just for such delightful moments). The “prizes” are merely small items to add to the joy of participation.

For example, on Monday, he has to pick up the soft toys, while mum assists with the blocks. Both mother and son enjoy doing the clearing up together.There are days when the boy does not feel like clearing up. The mother would then pack up the toys left behind and keep them for several days. When the child asks for the kept toys the next day, his mother would tell him about their agreement. They would talk about clearing up and how it should be done on a daily basis.

When children are younger than three years, they may have to pick up a few toys during clearing up to develop the good habit of picking up after themselves. As they grow older, they can be trusted to do more clearing up.To get them to do better and keep up with the routine, they need encouraging words, not punishment. You could say: “You have helped to put away the dolls. We worked hard together. Let’s give each other a high five!”

Children enjoy celebrating their achievements. Give clear directions and help children along when there is a great deal to do. You could tell them: “We will put away all the blocks first. We can start on the cooking set later.” Set up storage places within easy reach of children. One mother maintains that the house rule of putting things away before taking out new ones makes it easy for her child.Her young daughter knows that she cannot play with all the toys at one time. She has to choose to play with one or two first, before she takes other toys out. This rule has helped the child stay focused while teaching her responsibility.
Children who refuse to pick up after themselves know that someone else will do it for them. Children learn to be cooperative when they observe that their parents are consistent and fair in their ways. Clearing up is more fun when the whole family shares the workload.If everyone in the family takes up the shared responsibility, children will come to understand that clearing up is a daily necessity.

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