That the time to pick up the toys does not become a conflict: nine keys to manage it in a positive way
When a child plays with his toys, it is usually normal for chaos and disorder to reign in a short time. And it is that as much as we tell them to “take out the toys one by one” or “put away those that they do not use”, they will want to have them all in sight, even if this means emptying the entire contents of drawers and cabinets on the floor.
Although we all agree on how difficult it is to maintain order at home when there are small children , the truth is that it is also necessary to find a certain balance to feel comfortable and at ease, which can end up leading to fights and arguments with our children so that pick up your toys .
If this scene sounds familiar to you, take a look at the tips we offer you to manage the moment in a positive way and manage to maintain order at home without tantrums or conflicts with your little ones .
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Take a deep breath and don’t lose your nerve
In the first place, no matter how much stress the disorder generates in us, it is important to remember that we should not lose our temper with our children , otherwise it is likely that we will end up saying or doing something that we later regret.
So, take a deep breath and count to ten (or wherever necessary), avoiding shouting, authoritarian orders (“Pick up your toys right now!”), blackmail and threats (“either you pick up your toys right now or you’ll I throw them away”), labels (“You’re a mess!”, “You’re a mess!”), or punishments.
And we already know that the contribution is not achieved with disrespect like those mentioned above, but by acting with empathy, love, firmness and kindness.
Connect with your child and their needs
Before continuing, I suggest you do a reflection exercise that allows us to connect with our son and understand his needs at that moment. Let’s ask ourselves, why do we think he refuses to pick up the toys?
Here are some examples:
- What happens more often than not is that the child is having such a good time that they just don’t want to stop playing, and on top of that, having to deal with the tiresome task of cleaning up the room. Oursite Piddlebabes has more artice for parenting.
It is completely logical and surely it has happened to us many times. Or if not, let’s think for a moment how we feel when we are enjoying a movie and suddenly we realize that we have to do the laundry or prepare dinner… do we do it willingly? I bet not.
- It could also happen that the child is tired, sleepy or hungry . And it is that, in general, we usually ask our children to pick up the toys before going to bed, after a long day of school and activities. Who doesn’t feel exhausted at the end of the day?
- At other times, refusing to do something could indicate a lack of connection or a way of telling us that he is not feeling well (for example, he needs more attention from us, he is hurt or angry, he wants to engage in a ‘power struggle’ with us …)
- And it could also happen that our child is simply too young to undertake this task (especially if there are too many toys to collect). In these cases, dividing the task into smaller parts is usually a good resource to help them (for example, first collect the dolls, then we will collect the cars, then the constructions…)
Explain why you have to pick up the toys
When we order children to do something, but do not consider their needs or establish a prior connection, the communication stops being positive and we are likely to enter into a ‘power struggle’ that generates conflict and discomfort (we want them to do something and they refuse to do it: who will “win”?)
Therefore, it is best to spend a few minutes explaining to them with love, respect and empathy why it is important to pick up the toys when the game is over (“by putting the toys away we will avoid stepping on them and hurting our feet”, “if we step on the toys we can breaking them unintentionally”, “if the room is tidy it will be more comfortable to be in it”, “disorder means that we do not find what we are looking for”…). Will be interested to choose baby names for newborn?
It is important that our communication is positive, encouraging them to collaborate in the task and trusting them and their abilities.
Offer your help
When we are told to do something (for whatever reason), we are sure to appreciate someone reaching out to us and lending us their help . Well, in this case, our son will also appreciate it.
There are many ways we can help:
- For example, teaching him how it’s done . And it is that, as we mentioned above, if the child is very young he could feel especially overwhelmed if there are too many toys to collect, so our help will be especially necessary.
In this sense, and as we anticipated before, we can start by dividing the task into smaller ones or show it where and how to store each thing. Having drawers or baskets that allow us to classify toys and store them comfortably and quickly is a great idea.
- Ask him what he needs to be able to keep the toys in order .
Sometimes it happens that what we think is a comfortable and practical toy storage system, for the child it is not at all; either because it is complex (too many compartments, perhaps?) or because the trunk or drawer where he keeps his things is so deep that he is forced to take out all the toys every time he wants to find one. Ask him how to improve the storage so that the task of collecting is not complicated.
It also often happens that the child does not want to destroy a construction that he feels especially proud of or that he has had a hard time making, and for this reason he systematically refuses to pick it up. In these cases, we can suggest placing his construction on top of a shelf to preserve it, and thus be able to collect the rest without the risk of it being destroyed.
Have a family meeting to propose ideas
But if, despite these guidelines, the time to pick up the toys is always conflictive and becomes a recurring problem, a good option would be to organize a family meeting that involves the children in the search for solutions .
In this post, we told you how to hold family meetings, but basically it would consist of raising the problem that we have at home (the mess of toys) and among all the members of the family come up with ideas that help to solve it.
Give kids options
With all the ideas contributed in the family meeting, we will choose those that are respectful for all of us and for the situation we are dealing with. It is advisable to try to select at least six options, and then write them down on a cardboard wheel, on pieces of paper that we will put in a box or simply on a mural that we will place on the wall of the room.
The idea is that when it’s time to pick up the toys and the child feels blocked or doesn’t want to do it, we show him the options that were chosen in the family meeting (and in which he contributed), so that he can choose the one he most wants to do at that moment.
Some options could be tidying up the room with loud music in the background, tidying up the toys after dinner instead of before dinner, tidying up the bigger toys first and tidying up the smaller ones after the bath…
It will take time for the task of picking up the toys to become a habit that the child does on his own without being reminded.
Until that moment arrives, we can agree with our son on some signal or key word that, when pronounced, immediately reminds him of the task he must undertake. In this way, not only do we avoid speeches or sermons (which usually end up “falling on deaf ears” and giving us the feeling of a “broken record”), but we also establish a moment of connection with our child .
Some examples of fun reminders that we can put into practice:
- Come up with a word together in an invented language that means “it’s time to pick up the toys”
- Associate toy pick-up with a song so that when the music starts to play, it reminds the child that it’s time to pick up
- Establish between us a gesture, a look or a funny signal with the fingers that indicates the need to clean the room
- Another idea is to integrate some fun moment as part of the routine of picking up the toys, such as tickling each other, a kissing fight, a crazy dance…
limit the toys
To clean up toys, you can take advantage of special days when the child will receive new toys , such as his birthday or the arrival of the Three Wise Men. Our son should be the one who chooses those toys that stay at home and those that go out, although our help is important.
We will eliminate broken toys, those that are not used (if they are in good condition we can donate them to hospitals, NGOs…) and those that are used very occasionally. In the latter case, for example, we can propose taking them to the grandparents’ house -so that they have toys there when they go to visit them-, or keep them in a closet for a while.
In any case, we must always respect the wishes of the child .
Your children will only be children once
And we would not like to finish without offering one last piece of advice -which for me is the most important-: remember that our children will only be children once , and that the chaos and disorder that reigns in our homes today will end up disappearing in such a short time, that we will even miss him.
It is true that in general for all of us, maintaining a certain order at home helps us avoid conflicts, live more calmly and enjoy our home, but it should not become an obsession that clouds the relationship with our children and the memories they will have . of the time we spend with them .