Kids can organize too, and it starts at home...
The start of the school year always reminds me how amazing children are! They can surprise us with how quickly they learn and how much they can accomplish. My own children and former students have taught me to never underestimate a child's potential and willingness to learn. So, when you're cleaning and organizing your children's belongings get them involved because kids can organize too.
It can be tempting to do things for our little ones instead of allowing them to fend for themselves. We do it out of love, but allowing them to learn and grow by doing for themselves is a very loving gesture. Children want to learn and become more independent.
Even though we send them off to school to learn, parents are their first teachers, and home is their first learning environment. Teaching children early on how to take care of their home and be responsible for their belongings sets them up for success later in life.
Help kids conquer clutter by teaching them a few things...
- Expectations should be clear and attainable. Tell your children what is expected of them. It's not fair to them if you start complaining about the toys that are scattered everywhere if you have never shown them how to put them away. Also make sue you don't set the bar too high. Assigning tasks that are too difficult will only create frustration for both of you. Click here to get a list of age-appropriate decluttering tasks. Praising kids for completing age-appropriate tasks gives them confidence and motivation to do it again.
- Practice makes perfect. Be patient. It's a learning process (for both of you) and won't happen overnight. In the beginning, show your children how to pick up after themselves. Model it. Do it with them (many times). Eventually, they will be able to do it on their own, but you still may need to remind them. That's parenting, right? Make a game of it to motivate them. Have some fun. Who knows, they may surprise you and do it without being told.
- Label toy boxes and containers. Even if you have labels, you will still need to physically show your children exactly where each toy, piece of clothing, sports equipments and craft time belongs. Don't assume they will put things away "in the right place" simply because you labeled bins and boxes for them. Children who are nonreaders can still "read" labels with words and pictures. After they get into the habit, the labels will remind them where everything belongs. It becomes a habit. Added bonus of labeling: reinforces reading skills!
- Sorting. The organizing process involves a lot of sorting. Make sure you children get involved in this part of the process. They can sort their belongings into categories and come up with rules/ideas on how things should be sorted...bonus early-math skills being practiced here. Organizing is good for the brain!
Be patient and consistent
Praise children for their efforts. It isn't always easy to keep kid's clutter under control, but it does make it more bearable when you start to see how they become more responsible and capable of taking care of their own belongings. It doesn't have to be perfect, you just have to allow them to do their best. Let them surprise you!
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