Ask Amma

My 2 year old son does not pick up his toys.

In When on 17 October 2010 at 4:13 am

My 2 year old son does not pick up his toys. Should we discipline him by taking away the toys?

I’d like to step back and find out more about these toys. Why are they there? Often we find that children are burdened with too many toys. They might take them out more to see them arrayed on the floor than to play with each one – in fact, for them, that is the play.

While it is fine to limit the toys that are available, I would not communicate to the child that this is a consequence of leaving them on the floor. When there are only a few toys, it matters less who picks them up. And when there is no stress associated with putting toys away, it is easier for children to pick up that practice.

Secondly, at that age, many children hunger for wide open spaces to run, climb trees / jungle gyms, chase frogs, play ball, dig in the sand, stomp in puddles or watch the cars go by. When they can run and climb and throw and use their outside voice to their hearts content, being inside is less frustrating. Toys are often used to “entertain” kids inside because there is no one to accompany them outside – but not all kids will accept this substitute for long.

  1. I have an almost 2 yr old and it is indeed so much less stress and so much more fun when we are indeed in open spaces and out doors. She loves the park and even taking her to her makeshift
    “tent” in our backyard cheers her up! On the original q of encouraging picking up toys i try to make up a clean up song and instead of asking her to clean up, pick up stuff while humming and put them away and ask her if she would like to join me. When she refuses i simply go on and finish up and lately i have noticed she herself gets excited and joins in as part of the play.


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