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Returning Objects To Their Proper Location When Finished with Them


  • Go with your child to where the toys are kept (playroom, den, basement, bedroom). Take out a variety of toys that you know he likes to play with  (e.g., blocks, cars, puzzles, paper and crayons, etc.).
  • Encourage your child to pick out a toy to play with and allow him to play with it for a specified time (e.g., 10 minutes).
  • When the time is up, tell your child it’s time to put away that toy and then he can choose another toy.
  • Observe your child putting the toys away independently, looking for the following behaviors:
  1. Verbally refuses to put the toys away when asked
  2. Puts the toy away careless or disorganized
  3. Leaves the play area without putting the toys away
  • Remember that forcing your child to pick up and put things away does not make him more organized or neater. Your child needs lots of practice time, verbal encouragement and specific directions that can be easily understood.
  • If your child needs help, say exactly where a toy belongs and then model the action by putting the toy in the correct spot. Encourage your child to imitate you and praise him “a lot” if successful. Children are usually motivated to receive praise!
  • Talk with your child about what consequences will occur if toys are not put back in the correct location (the toy will be put away for a day). Let your child think of consequences as well.
  • Allow your child to experience “natural consequences”. These would be consequences that he creates, not you. For example, if your child does not put the top back on the Playdoh container, the clay will dry up and your child will not be able to play with it next time. If your child leaves the paint brushes dirty, the brushes will not be able to be used for painting.
  • If your child becomes destructive with toys that he has been asked to clean up, make him clean up the mess. For example, if your child throws all the blocks because he does not want to clean them up, make Your child pick up all the blocks.
  • One of the best ways for your child to clean up the toys is for him see mom and dad model organized, responsible behaviors with their things.