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How To Teach Your Child To Organize Their Toys

It can be great fun to pull out lots of toys in a playroom or living room and get lost in creative play. Before long, there are building blocks strewn across the floor, stuffed toys on adventures in the back yard, and all kinds of other items everywhere. Eventually, playtime has to end so kids can have dinner, get ready to go out, or get ready for bed.

The problem here is that some kids disconnect from the situation and leave the mess behind. That is why it is important to teach kids how to organize their toys from an early age. The sooner kids understand the benefits of putting everything away in the right place, the sooner you can stop clearing up after them and finding random toys in strange places. Here are some tips on how to help your child be more organized.

  1. You need to make sure that all storage and organizing tools are child-friendly.

    It is too easy to focus on solutions for keeping toys organized that seem practical and attractive to us, without having too much consideration for the viewpoint of a child. We mean this both figuratively and literally. Kids need something understandable and easy to use.

    You can’t expect them to deal with complex processes too early on, or to distinguish between containers that look too similar. You also can’t start using solutions that are out of reach or out of the eye-line of your child. They need to be able to see exactly where the appropriate home is for their toy and see it when they place it into that position. This allows for a direct understanding of actions and the effect that they caused when a toddler organizes toys. They see that they placed the item in the right place, and can use that visual for further learning and to guide them next time. This means using storage bins that aren’t too high for them to see or to reach into. Also, you don’t want to use shelves that are too high.

  2. It is better to have a larger number of smaller bins and containers than a couple of massive ones.

    The added benefit here is that children can pick up smaller containers themselves and move them to the right part of the room, or another room in the home. Therefore, if a child plays with all their doll furniture and figure in the living room, they can pick everything up, place it in the container they brought into the room, and then carry that container into the playroom or bedroom.

    It is all about reinforcing that idea of cause and effect and letting children complete the process from start to finish. This makes it a lot easier for them to understand, and more likely for them to repeat the behavior again the following day.

  3. Think about color and labeling when creating the best toy organization system for kids.

    When choosing those child-appropriate storage containers, it is a good idea to use different colors for color-coded organization. Kids that are visual learners may be better able to associate the color with a certain type of toy. Maybe their dolls are in the red box, their building blocks in a blue box, stuffed toys in the green box, and so on. Or, you could find a way to customize the bins with other visual cues.

  4. With time, you can adapt this system with input from your children.

    Kids develop mental schemas from an early age where they group items together based on common themes. These may not be the same as your own, and may even seem nonsensical to an adult mind. But, it is important to encourage this cognitive development and use these patterns when organizing toys. They may have their own ideas on themes, or they might start organizing independently via shape or color. Discuss this with your child, listen to their reasoning, and work with them. When you show that you are receptive like this, it can give your child the confidence to keep going.

  5. When teaching your child this skill, it helps to be as consistent and frequent with those lessons as possible.

    If you expect your child to tidy up after themselves when playing, you need to reinforce this by ensuring that it does happen every time. Otherwise, you might find that there are mixed messages and kids are unsure when this is expected of them. It may also help to set aside time each day, perhaps when a parent is making dinner, to go around the house and into the playroom to make sure everything is where it should be. Before long, your child will pick up this habit of tidying up after themselves and you won’t have to ask them to do it.

  6. Make sure to give your child praise and positive reinforcement for their efforts, even when it becomes the norm.

    At first, this sort of incentivization for keeping toys organized will help them to repeat the behavior in the future. They see that the act of organizing their toys pleases their parents and they may get other privileges for it. Perhaps children that prove themselves to be tidy with their toys for a whole week will earn the right to pick out a new one from the My Heart Teddy™ plush animal collection at the weekend? Also, don’t forget to offer this praise when you see kids do this behavior without prompting. Tell them how smart and responsible they are for doing it all by themselves.

    While it is important to highlight this idea of responsibility and that big boys and girls do this for their parents, the task doesn’t have to be a chore. You can make it fun as you carefully put all the toys to bed for the day. You can make up a song to sing while you do so. Or, if you have two young children with their own bins, see who can tidy up the fastest.

  7. Work on different ideas until something clicks.

    You might not find the perfect approach on how to help your child be more organized the first time. Some kids might struggle with your current set-up or fail to see the incentive in doing as they are told. Be patient with them and make modifications where necessary, especially when you can include your child’s input. Eventually, it will all fall into place.

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