At what age should this be started?

How to go about it such that the child doesn't feel bored?

  • 1
    My mom started this pretty much immediately. It was a rule in our house that toys have to be put away before moving to a new toy. However, she didn't make us clean up alone; she cleaned up with us (meaning she did most of it, whereas we picked up a couple toys).
    – Justin
    Nov 2, 2015 at 4:47
  • @Justin, sounds like an answer to me!
    – Stephie
    Nov 2, 2015 at 8:29

1 Answer 1


From toddlerhood onwards.

Do it together - initially you'll be doing almost all of it and the balance should gradually shift over the years as they get older.

At first, give out copious praise even for small acts of tidying up.

Make it a race.

Have something desirable / positive to do next, once tidying up is done. Don't let them do the fun thing until they've helped with tidying up, even if it's just one symbolic thing that they tidy eg car into box.

Sing the "Tidy Up Time" song together while you're doing it (or your local equivalent that they might get to know from nursery / kindergarten/ etc).

To the tune of Frere Jacques:
Tidy up time, tidy up time
Toys away, toys away
Everybody helping, everybody helping
Toys away, toys away

(Repeat until tidy).

  • 1
    +1 for "race". We use that to make many boring tasks more fun.
    – JPhi1618
    Nov 2, 2015 at 19:19
  • 1
    Yes, making it a race or a game makes it easier. We often have toys put away in bins or baskets and make a tossing game out of clean up.
    – user11394
    Nov 2, 2015 at 20:46
  • 1
    @CreationEdge a note about tossing - my nieces picked up a bad habit of throwing things at people after seeing their mother toss some toys into the bin. Nov 3, 2015 at 17:11
  • @DanHenderson My boy picked that up after being old enough to throw things. It's hard to avoid seeing people throw stuff, as it's a basic human skill and game. (Throwing rocks, throwing spears, throwing balls, throwing discs). I'd rather show them how to toss things productively, and discipline otherwise.
    – user11394
    Nov 3, 2015 at 17:24
  • 1
    @DanHenderson We had the same issue. We taught our guy hard vs. soft (or squishie) very early on, just to keep him from throwing the wrong kinds of things!
    – user11394
    Nov 3, 2015 at 17:31

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