How to Train Kids to Clean Up Their Toys: Sample Training Session

Updated: Jan 14, 2020

Note: Be sure to read the blogs The Secret to Good Behavior? Training! and How to Train Your Children with Training Sessions to learn the basics and specifics of training.

Is getting your children to pick up their toys a daily struggle? Train them what you expect them to do with a Training Session! A Training Session is just a time when you instruct, demonstrate, and practice the correct behavior. You also clearly state the consequence for not following the rules. After that, you inspect, review the rules, and enforce any necessary consequences.

In this article, I’ll go through what a sample Clean-up Training Session might look like.

To review the original Training Session blog, the 8 parts of a Training Session are:

  1. Instruct and demonstrate.

  2. Inform of the consequence.

  3. Ask questions.

  4. Praise right behavior.

  5. Practice, practice, practice.

  6. Supervise and inspect.

  7. Give consequence if needed.

  8. Review often.

In this example, let’s say you’re having a problem with your child not cleaning up his or her toys before bedtime. Remember, the first rule of a Training Session is to schedule it at a neutral time, not during the problem. Plan the sessions when you have plenty of time and everyone involved is in good spirits. So if the problem is nighttime clean-up, plan your training session in the morning or afternoon.

To begin, sit down with your child and have a conversation something like this: “Billy, it seems like every night when I ask you to pick up your toys before bedtime, you ignore me and continue to play. From now on, that is not allowed. From now on, when I say ‘Billy, it’s time to clean up,’ you are going to immediately stop playing, look me in the eye, and say, ‘Yes Momma.’ And then you are going to immediately start putting your toys in the basket where they belong.

Because from now on, if you don’t obey me immediately, I’m going to ___________. ” (Fill in your consequence here.)

Then, ask your child questions along the way. Ask, “What are you are going to do when I tell you it’s time to clean up? What’s going to happen if you don’t obey?” Go over the instructions until he understands them clearly. Then practice, practice, practice!

Put two toys on the floor. “Okay Billy, pretend like you’re playing with the toys. When I say Billy, it’s time to clean up, what do you do? That’s right! You stop, look me in the eye, say ‘Yes, Mama,’ and immediately clean up.”

Then do it again with four toys. Walk out of the room this time, and come back in saying “Billy, it’s time to clean up.” Have your child practice the correct behavior several times until he can do it perfectly. Be sure to praise your child each time he does it correctly.

Make the Training Sessions fun. Kids love to role play and pretend. Make the practice sessions into a game, and your child will love it.

You might want to practice again that afternoon. Then, at dinner say, “Billy, tell me exactly what you’re going to do tonight when I ask you to clean up. Tell me exactly what your consequence will be if you don’t.”

Then, that night, have Dad come in to watch the newly trained child. You could say, “Daddy, watch how Billy obeys now. He always cleans up his toys right when I tell him to.” Be sure to give lots of hugs and kisses for the right behavior. Then, for the next two to four weeks, remind your child every evening BEFORE he starts to play with his toys.

One of the most important elements in the Training Session, however, is training your child to know that you will definitely enforce any consequences incurred. Train him or her to know that you mean what you say. You don’t give idle threats. So whatever consequence you said you’d give during the Training Session, by golly, do it if he or she breaks the rules. If you are truly consistent with the consequences, you will actually only have to administer them a few times before your child knows you mean business.

So think about the areas in which you’re having difficulties with your child.  Solve them with Training Sessions. You could train your child in:

  • Bedtime routine

  • Grocery shopping

  • Behaving in the car

  • Behaving at mealtime

  • Waiting patiently while you’re talking to another adult

  • First Time Obedience

To learn more about raising well-behaved children, get my book Proactive Discipline: A Parent’s Guide.

Learn how to get your children to clean their rooms and help around the house with Rubric Rules: A Cleaning System for Kids.A

“ Train up a child in the way he should go, 

and when he is old he will not depart from it."

Proverbs 22:6​

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