Saturday, September 12, 2009

Is It Possible for a 5-Year-Old to Clean Up These Legos?

I need honest opinions here because my five-year-old son is pretty sure I'm an ogre. And, with the way he's carrying on, I'm starting to wonder. Today, he made this mess in the hallway:

While he was playing with a bucket of Legos, he found a piece to an Indiana Jones Lego mini-figure. Now he's focused on that mini-fig and wants to find the rest of it. Apparently, when you're five, the easiest way to look for Legos is to dump the entire thing on the floor and spread it around. I suppose it IS easier to see everything you've got this way. Unfortunately, the piece he wants isn't there. He's sure that means it's in one of the boxes of Legos I've stashed away in his brother's closet. I told him I'd be happy to get one of those boxes out as soon as he picked these up.

That's when the begging and pleading started. He's called me unfair, an idiot and a poopy head. Then he started to cry. Somehow, I've kept my cool, though I have remained firm. I do understand that he's tired. His first week of kindergarten was last week. And, I admit, that many times in the past when I've asked him to clean up, I've usually helped. But, he's been five for a few months now and I'm starting to think that he can handle things like this on his own.

So, I need some outside perspective. Can a five year old clean up a mess like that on his own? Or is it still too much for him? Am I an ogre? Or just a mom who is tired of cleaning up Legos?

Update: I'm happy to report that, after an hour or so, my son decided he really wanted that other box of toys to rumage through, so he picked up everything in the hallway. Once he made the decision, he was even cheerful about it! Thanks to everyone who encourged me to hold the line. I was firm, but calm and kind, and it payed off. He's been pretty good about cleaning up when I ask since then. :-)


  1. Yes, a five year old can clean up a mess like that on his own. No, you're not an ogre. Stay strong.

  2. Sure he can, give him a mini broom & dustpan and have him sweep them up :) Works for my boys!

  3. Sure he can...but if I'm tired, sometimes I leave my mess for a while before I get to it.

    I would let him get in a better mood or help him out. I would then engage in a conversation about helping each other, pitching in, not making the mess so big it's too big for one person etc.

    Then I would let it go. I think he could do it at 5, if all the pieces of the universe were perfectly in place. But it sounds like there have been a big change in his life recently and he probably doesn't need more stress right now. This might not be the time to force this on him. So yeah, I'd give him a hand.

    But I would let him know that I expected him to do better in the future.

    Give a kid a break. And a hug. And grab one from him for you.

    Take care.


  4. He can clean it up. My 4 year old has to put away whatever he's playing with before he can play with something else. He's been doing that for so long that he hardly ever needs to be reminded. If it's something with a lot of pieces, like your legosplosion, I usually offer to help.

    I assure you, you are NOT a poopy head ;)

  5. Yes and start now so you don't end up with a 30 something kid still living at home expecting mommy to do everything for him. Cut the cord now before you have to get a shrink involved.