Use Toy Jail to Teach Your Kids Responsibility

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Tired of toys and the mess your kids leave? Use Toy Jail to Teach responsibility to your kids!!! It is a simple system that works -- because it involves things that matter to your kids.


Take a look around your house.  If it is anything like mine use to be, it might be cluttered.  You may see toys, electronics, stuffed animals….the list goes on and on!

It is not that my kids don’t know they need to pick up after themselves.  They just don’t do it.  They choose to just drop things and leave them were they end up.  The only time they pick up is when I finally have to tell them to do so.

Well, at least, that use to be the case.  One snowy afternoon, I’d had it. I hit my breaking point.  After having had told them to pick up items more than once, I threatened them that if they did not pick up their things, then they would all be headed off to toy jail.  Funny thing is that they didn’t think I was serious.   Imagine their surprise when all of their toys were suddenly gone.

While they were playing in the snow, all of their items were “arrested.”  They noticed that everything was picked up.  On the kitchen table was a note that explained what happened. I told them that I was tired of picking things up and that if they wanted the items back, they would have to bail them out.

The instantly asked me how they could get the toys back. I told them that if they wanted to bail something out of jail, they would need to do something good for me in return (or use some of their hard earned tickets — see my Ticket Reward System).  

The thing is that the chores were not regular ones. They did not include pick up their room.  These had to be chores which they may do only once a week or it could be something totally random.

When they finished, we sat down and had a talk. We discussed how we needed to respect the home where we live.  Leaving items where they felt like that was not the way to do that.  I told them that I would give one warning about reminding the to pick up (I mean, they are kids after all and will forget).  However, that is it.  After that, it is off to toy jail.  

I chuckled to myself the first time I did this, as I had one of those “I’m just like my mother” moments.  I can recall my mom saying she was going to throw away our shoes if we did not pick them up.  It only took it happening to my sister one time for us both to know that she was serious (as I recall my sister digging through the trash to look for them — when mom had set them on her closet shelf).  She taught me well and I now get the pleasure of passing this along to my own kids.

Am I being tough?  Some may think so.  But with 3 kids leaving a tornado in their wake, something had to be done.   Since we implemented this system, only a handful of items have landed in jail.   They learned their lesson quickly and they know that I am not bluffing.  I have no problems with toy tail.

I love my kids more than life itself, and I want them to have respect for not only their belongings, but our home and me as their mom.

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  1. Erica says

    You’re not being too hard on them. You are doing what a mother is supposed to do. Good for you.

  2. Aleshia Klaus says

    This is absolutely brilliant I am going to try this with the minefield of Legos that end up all over the house.

  3. says

    Not mean! My daughter was the worst! I used to have an “Emily bag”. All toys that weren’t picked up were put in that bag. At the end of the week, Britt could prove she was responsible and get her toys back. If she couldn’t, the toys went to “Emily down the street”. Britt picked her toys up. Emily got nothing. Britt is now 21 and living on her own. In a darling little bungalow. With clothes strewn all over the place. Giving toys to little kids. It works!