Minimalist is something one cannot teach a three years old.

Problem is our 3 yrs old gets stuff everywhere, every room is messy and when it come to tidy up he is tired (his excuse) and every room of the house looks messy and sometimes we hurt ourselves by stepping on small cars etc.

How can I teach our kid to get rid of old toys and play with what he need and keep the rest in a box?

  • We just told our kids there was too much stuff. pick out some things you think other kids would like to play with to make room for new things. We did that from very young so it's sort of routine now. 3 Years is still a good age to implant this concept.
    – Kai Qing
    Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 16:16
  • 3
    Possible duplicate of How can I motivate my almost-3 year old son to put away his toys? Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 16:22
  • 2
    Please be patient when trying to teach adult concepts to children. They will fake getting more than actually get it. I think you are FAR OFF on this being a topic to teach.
    – Adam Heeg
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 17:18

3 Answers 3


At 3 that is a very tricky demand. He almost certainly will be tired after playing, so that won't be just an excuse. So you may find that until he is older you just need to tidy yourself - this is part of parenting responsibilities until the child is old enough (Even at 16 it can be an issue...)

One of the ways that seems to get most success around that age is to use tidying away as a game you play with them. When they get older you can describe the need for chores and use motivation techniques such as sticker charts, pocket money etc. - but they need to be mature enough to understand how their responsibilities line up against parental responsibilities.

My personal opinion - minimalism is not really a good approach with children. Instead, exposing them to a wide range of sensory input is considered much better. So having toys out, pictures everywhere etc can give greater sensory stimulation. So it's worth thinking about changing your expectations until the child is older.

  • 4
    I agree with the differences of minimalism for adults and children. Adults have reasons for minimalism (an aesthetic, to simplify, to de-stress, etc.) that a child can't understand. A child wants stimulation. We (and countless other US parents) sang the "Clean Up" song at the end of a play session. That worked for my kids. Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 1:03

How can I teach our kid to get rid of old toys and play with what he need and keep the rest in a box?

In regard to the first question: The easiest way to do this is probably to buy an "old toys" box and sort through the playthings together with the child. The kid decides what goes in the box to fill it; you decide how big the box is. Then move the box to the basement/attic/garage/other-out-of-sight-place. This way, the toys aren't gone yet; there is still a chance they can be reclaimed when the kid needs them again.

Once the "old toys" box has been sitting in the basement for a few months, it might be easier to go through it (again, with the child) and decide together what is really no longer needed. But be prepared for a lot of disagreement in that regard.

As to your second question (how to keep the "active toys" neatly in a box): I wish I knew the answer to that. This is one of our greatest sources of disagreement and conflict in our family.

Our current solution is to have the kids clean up whatever they played with in the living room (and the rest of the rooms that we share) before they go to bed, because "the grown-ups live there too and want to use it in the evening". When they were younger, we did it together with them; now that they're school-age, they do it by themselves (but, unfortunately, never without us first requesting they do it, and almost never without bickering among themselves about who is doing less than his/her fair share). We don't care as much about the kids' rooms; they have to clean them up so they can be vacuumed etc, but that doesn't have to be every day. I really dislike living in a mess, and I'm having trouble with the state of chaos that my kid's rooms are usually in, but then again, it's their rooms.

In fact, I think your sense of how much order is "right" may change as you get older: I used to never understand my parents when they forced me to clean up my room, but now the disorder in my kids' rooms (which probably isn't much worse than what I had in my room) is really bothering me.

So my current position on the question of a neat and tidy house is that the price of having kids is to live in surroundings that sometimes look as if a bomb had exploded in them. I'm hoping that this state of affairs will gradually change as the children get older and toys and picture books lose their attraction, but I've mostly lost the will to enforce a state of order in which I would feel comfortable. The energy and the arguing required to achieve this goal, along with all the bad feelings created in the process, are simply not worth it to me any more.


It is bit difficult to teach minimalism in kids. But if you see the problem in broad sense, you can solve it by these concepts: Reuse, Recycle and Re-purpose then by the course of time you will automatically reach to Reduce(minimize). For eg. make some DIY toy with the pieces of the broken one, use the used toy, share the used toys etc.

In this case we can develop kids to 'make things' and not depriving them from wide range of sensory inputs. You are minimizing the stuffs withing like minded families.

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