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Dad Uses a Super Simple Strategy to Get His Tot to Put Away His Toys
  • Children are like walking tornadoes — they leave a mess wherever they go! Cleaning up after them is one of the daily struggles of parenthood. But one dad may have just found the secret to getting his toddlers to pick up their toys themselves. It’s called the “Toy Drop” game, and all you need is a big box and a sprinkling of enthusiasm to replicate it at home. 

    “‘Toy Drop’ is a game I inadvertently discovered when my twin toddlers saw me picking up their toys and dropping them in a box — and then volunteered to help out,” said dad Tyler Lund in an article for Fatherly.

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    The “Toy Drop game” strategy is as simple as it sounds. Once your kiddo has lost interest in playtime and his toys are littered everywhere, grab a big box or container. (The container can't be too big that your child can't reach the rim. Have more than one if needed.) Then, show your kids what to do. Put effort into being enthusiastic about picking up toys and dropping them in the box.

    Tyler’s kids are too young to pick up toys on their own, said the dad, but he took advantage of his kids’ eagerness to copy whatever dad or mom is doing. “Their natural impulse to mimic kicked in and before I knew it, they started grabbing and dropping everything in sight.”

    “Once they get to collecting and dropping you can usually step out of the action and supervise (or read a magazine, do the dishes, really depends on how focused your kids get),” said Tyler. But, make sure to keep an eye out still for frustrations, like getting a toy stuck or not being able to fit all the toys in the box, he added. 

    Having just one or a few catch-all containers to keep toys makes it easy for a young child to put playthings back where they belong. It keeps cleanup simple. Display shelves, heavy cabinets, or tall bookshelves can discourage a child from putting back his toys on his own. 

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    You can add more fun rules to the “Toy Drop” game. Here are a few ideas suggested by Susan Stiffelman, a licensed marriage, family and child counselor, in a column for The Huffington Post

    1. “All the small toys first!” 
    If there’s a big mess to clean up, divide the task into smaller portions to make it more manageable for your child. Start from smallest to the biggest, for example, or pick up toys according to color (“Let’s put all the red toys in the box! Now, all the blue ones.”). “This will help them learn that, little by little, they can get a big job done,” said Stiffelman.

    2. “Can we/you put all the toys in the box before the song ends?”
    Put on your child’s favorite song, and challenge her to clean up before the song ends. “By injecting a little fun and silliness into the cleanup routine, you’ll help your children overcome their resistance to dive into what might otherwise appear to be a boring task,” said Stiffelman. Dance and sing along too! 

    3. Make it a race
    “With multiple children and containers, this can simultaneously become a combination race and game,” said Tyler. See which child can pick up 10 toys faster, for example, or who can clean up the most in 2 minutes. 

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    Giving chores, even simple ones like picking up toys, starting at a young age is a good idea, according to experts. It helps children build a lasting sense of mastery, responsibility, and self-reliance. It forms good habits and helps ensure your child will grow up to be a capable adult. 

    “While it may be easier in the short term to just clean up after your daughter, it’s very important that she develop the sense of responsibility that comes from knowing she can sort out her own messes,” said Stiffelman. The effort of teaching your child how to do chores and supervising her doing them pays off, we promise!

    Find a guide how to get your little one started on chores and a list of age-appropriate tasks around the house (age 2 to 7) here. 

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