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How to Get Your Children to Pick Up Their Things

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Close up of a circular red clock with a white face, showing the time of about 5 seconds before noon (or midnight)
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Encouraging children to pick up their belongings and stow them away properly may be easier than you think.

Where there are kids, there are messes. Fortunately, children can be trained to pick up their possessions and put them away. Here is how some parents have taught their kids to pick up their things:

Team Up to Clean Up

When I realized my family’s cleaning routine was not working, I
asked my kids to pair up. I gave each pair responsibility for one area of the house. This taught my
younger children how to clean and my older children about leadership and responsibility. I was
surprised at how well it worked. I no longer nag my children to clean because they take initiative
and ownership for their assigned areas.

—Evie
Palmer

Clutter-Free in 15

Prior to a family outing, I set the timer
for 15 minutes and call for a “quick clean.” Children scramble to
straighten up assigned rooms while I gather belongings scattered around
the rest of the house. When the timer goes off, they put away my pile,
and we head out the door of our clutter-free home! (Fifteen minutes also
works well for yard work.)

—Kristen Erickson

The Pick-Up Game

I used a game to teach my kids to pick up their toys, books and personal items. First, they had to collect all the belongings they found scattered throughout the house. I counted the totals. Then they earned a dime for each item once it was put away. To make a contest of it, I timed them or added a bonus for the child who found the most items. This game gave my kids an incentive to clean, and I was able to praise them instead of nagging them to pick up their things.

—Hally Franz

Pick It Up or Pay

Our household had our own lost and found — but with a twist. Instead of just returning the things my kids left lying around the house, I wanted them to learn to be responsible for keeping track of their belongings. Each night after bedtime, I put any toys, clothes, books, papers, food or other items that were not in their proper place into a large box. If the kids wanted their things back, they had to pay 25 cents for each item. It didn’t take many quarters for them to learn that keeping track of their stuff was worthwhile!

—Cindi Ferrini

Pick-a-Stick Cleanup

My tweens were old enough to help clean up after meals, but dividing the chores and keeping track overwhelmed me. So I came up with an easy-to-follow system. Now when the last person finishes eating, I call everyone to the kitchen. We all clear the table, then I hold craft sticks, with additional cleanup jobs written on the ends, and let each child choose a stick. (The job names are hidden from view.)

I have four children, so each night I offer four jobs that are needed that evening, such as sweeping the floor, wiping down the table, loading the dishwasher or taking out the trash. I’ve also added one rule: Everyone stays in the kitchen until the kitchen is clean. That encourages the kids to pitch in as a team to help each other finish quicker.

—Rachel Schmoyer

Pick up toys

Children enjoy blending music and work. While you show them how to do developmentally appropriate chores, use a well-known tune and make up lyrics to fit the melody. For example, if you choose “The Farmer in the Dell,” you can sing words similar to the following:

We’re picking up the blocks.
We’re picking up the blocks.
Hi-ho, the derry-o.
We’re picking up the blocks.

You also can add a child’s name to the song.

Josh picked up a toy.
He’s such a wonderful boy.
Hi-ho, the derry-o.
Cleaning is a joy.

— Sharon Wilkins

 

 

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Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
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Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

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