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How to Teach Children to Pick up Their Clothes

Updated on October 31, 2012

Every time you walk into your kid's room, you nearly trip over all the clothes on the floor. Why is it that kids never pick up their clothes? Why do they leave them everywhere when the closet is so close?

The answer is simple. Picking up clothes and putting them away just isn't FUN! After all, how many people do you know who enjoy doing laundry? Not many! To kids, putting clothes away is essentially the same as doing laundry. The clothes end up strewn everywhere!

So, how can you teach children to pick up their clothes?

Clean up Games

Picking up clothes doesn't have to be a chore. It can be fun if you make it into a game!

For dirty clothes that need to be picked up, try using a laundry sorter instead of a hamper. The kids can shoot baskets with the clothes, trying to get them into the right compartment. Whether you use a hamper or a sorter, consider a point score for each basket made. If you have more than one child, start a competition! You can score based on accuracy or speed. Either way, the clothes are picked up and the kids enjoy doing it.

Get Kids Involved in Organization

One of the best ways to get kids to pick up their clothes is to involve them in how their clothes are stored. Let them organize their own dresser drawers, even if what they come up with doesn't seem like a good system to you. If they are invested in it, they are more likely to keep it going.

Let the kids organize their closets also. They can decide which clothes are hung where, and where their shoes will go. Allowing them the freedom and power to make choices helps them become more invested in the organization of their clothes and, ultimately, of their entire room.

Beyond just the organization, let kids pick out the products that are used in their closet and dresser. Let them pick out hangers in their favorite colors, and choose hampers that are fun and colorful. They can even make signs that show what goes where, such as a "shirts" sign where shirts should go in their closet, and a "socks" sign for the sock drawer. Even if their organization isn't exactly as you would choose, it will definitely look better and cause fewer headaches if the clothes are off the floor!

Kids Get Organized
Kids Get Organized | Source

Top Tip: Hang a Sign!

For an in-your-face way of making sure kids pick up their clothes, hang a sign in their doorway that says "Have you picked up your clothes?" At the bottom of the sign, have tear-off tabs that say "Yes!" They must turn in a "Yes!" tab to come down to breakfast!

Kids Responsibility Charts and Rewards

You can also use rewards to encourage kids to pick up clothes. Using a sticker chart, or even a jar of pennies (put a penny in each time the clothes are picked up). No matter what the chart uses, you need a way to track the kids' progress.

The really fun part is the rewards! Establish a reward program that is fun for everyone. Here are some examples:

  • Stay up one hour past bedtime on a weekend
  • Choose the movie for family movie night
  • Pick an activity for the weekend
  • Skip a chore this week

The rewards don't have to be expensive. In fact, experiences and choices are even better! To make the rewards work, involve the kids in deciding what kind of rewards are available for picking up their clothes.

No matter what their ages, kids are more likely to pick up their clothes if they are involved in the process and its rewards.

Just for Fun - Sing this Song while picking up clothes!


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    • Amy Gillie profile image

      Amy Gillie 5 years ago from Indiana

      Glimmer Twin Fan - thanks for reading! The sign is pretty could even provide rewards if they use all the tabs!

    • Amy Gillie profile image

      Amy Gillie 5 years ago from Indiana

      Kittyjj - my kids are not quite old enough to have that much mess, but I'm doing my best to curb it now. I hope it works for you!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      I love love love the hang a sign tip. I am so doing this today! I think I'm going to do it with other things too. Great hub and tips! Had to share this too.

    • kittyjj profile image

      Ann Leung 5 years ago from San Jose, California

      The closet in your first picture is very much like my kids' rooms. I will definitely give your suggestions a try because whatever I am enforcing in my house now doesn't work. Thank you for sharing!

    • Amy Gillie profile image

      Amy Gillie 5 years ago from Indiana

      Nettlemere - They do help with my kids, at least so far! I hope rewards now will mean it becomes a habit into the future. They are 5 and 2 now, but so far it's working!

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      I wish I had someone to reward me for picking up my own cloths! I'd be the worst person to try and instill this habit into a child. Great tips though Amy and I should imagine they would help a lot.

    • Amy Gillie profile image

      Amy Gillie 5 years ago from Indiana

      Thanks summerberrie! It's not easy, but I'm really trying with my two kids.

    • profile image

      summerberrie 5 years ago

      What great tips. As a mom of three boys (all in the span of three years) I was a complete failure at this. I'm now sorry I did not make having them pick up their cloths and toys more of a priority. The song in the video is simply adorable. Nice hub. Voted up and useful!