“Raise your hand if you love to play and have fun!” If you were to ask this question in a room full of little ones, you’d see every hand up in the air! There’s absolutely no doubt about it; each child’s hand would shoot up in excitement. And, rightfully so! It’s perfectly normal for children to enjoy playing with all sorts of toys and such. However, what if you were to ask the same group to raise their hands if they also love to help their parents pick up those toys? How many hands do you think would be up in the air? Probably very few! That’s because many children don’t really enjoy the task of cleaning up after playing. And it leaves many parents trying to figure out how to motivate kids to join the cleanup crew when it’s time for the toys to return to their respective places.
Why is it that kids like to make the mess but dislike the process of cleaning up? Well, to be honest, most people have the same mindset in many cases. Perhaps you like to cook but you’re not so crazy about washing the dishes after dinner. Setting up for a fun party or event is usually a lot more fun than taking down all the decorations. So, you see, everything just seems so much more enjoyable when “cleaning up” isn’t in the picture. (That goes for both kids and adults!) When it comes to kids, playing and cleaning up are literally two different extremes. And, it’s usually difficult to get them to help you when it’s time to put away the toys. Have you ever wondered why that’s the case? Well, there are a couple of different reasons for this. The main issue is that cleaning means playtime is over.
Basically, many children associate cleanup time with the belief that putting away the toys means that there is going to be a shift from playtime to, well, something much less enjoyable. Most likely, the kids were having a blast with the toys! So, in essence, if the toys go away then so does the fun. Now you may be able to understand your kids’ hesitation a little bit better. Even so, as children become more independent, it’s important for them to do things like helping keep their space tidy. Let’s talk a little bit about how to motivate kids to help when time to put away the toys.
Like we mentioned, to kids, putting away the toys may feel like all the fun is over until the next time they get to play. But, what if they discover that’s not the case? What if there’s a way to make cleaning fun and enjoyable so that it doesn’t feel at all like the fun is over because the toys are gone? Well, there is definitely a way to do that! Make cleaning fun by having a dance party, listening to music, and singing along! If you have fun with this task, your kids will, too!
Establish your expectations. Be specific about what you want to get done. If you’d like for your child to pick up his or her toys and place them in a specific bin, be sure your child understands and can follow those directions. Also, don’t hesitate to join your kids in the fun of tidying up. Sometimes, they need to see you lead by example. If they see you cleaning without complaining, they may be willing to do the same! Sometimes, if you want to figure out how to motivate kids to do something, show them how it’s done! It may take a little while for children to get into the routine and figure out how to put things away properly. But, eventually, your little ones will be able to clean up all on their own!