How Do You Get Your Child to Clean Up?

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I get this question a lot. I know everyone wants their toddler to be able to clean up after themselves, but that is honestly an unfair ask. That doesn't mean that they don't know how to clean up, but they need guidance and modeling.

When you transition and say it is time to clean up, you are stopping your child in the middle of their play which can often feel jolting for a little one especially since they don't understand the concept of time. That being said, using an object along with a catchy tune where you model cleaning up, can help achieve your goal of tidying.

For example, I start with a simple stick and a string tied to a little wool bee (see picture). I sing, “busy, busy bee come and clean my home with me.” I take the bee, and I fly it around the room, and I ask my kids to open up their hands so that they may touch the bee. This helps transition your child from play to clean up without the startle or the sudden stop.

Some people use a timer to signal the transition to the next activity. I find that timers don't always work for kids and this is more of a gentle way of signifying a change.

After you put busy bee down, you as the parent need to start cleaning with your child. You don't need to do it all, but you can go at a slow pace and show them with an exaggerated movement where things are going and how they are being put away.