Helping Kids Learn to be Organized | From Overwhelmed to Organized: Helping Kids Learn to be Organized

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Helping Kids Learn to be Organized

Some kids are naturally organized, but most aren't.  But they can learn to be organized!  And it's an important life skill that you can teach them.  It will help them in school as well as in their future career, home, and family.

It's easiest if you can start them when they're young, before they form bad habits and grow attached to their belongings.

But don't worry if your kids are messy and unorganized!  There's still hope :)  Help them learn to be organized.  It's worth the investment in time and energy.

1.  Model Organizing Skills for your Kids

It's best if you can model organizing to your children.  Set a good example of decluttering regularly to maintain an organized home.  Keep the common areas of your home organized so your kids can see the value in being organized.  It's hard to expect your kids to be organized if you aren't setting a good example yourself.

If your home is currently cluttered and unorganized, work away at the areas you have domain over before trying to tackle your kids' rooms or the playroom.  Ensure the kitchen, your bedroom, the bathrooms, etc. are organized and clutter-free.  Make it easy for your kids to put things away in these rooms so these areas can stay organized.  Then you can work with them on organizing their things.

2.  Explain Why Organizing Is Important

Most kids thrive in a structured environment.  Just like when you're overwhelmed because of clutter and disorganization around you, they are too.

Help them see that knowing where to find things makes their lives easier.  Demonstrate how much easier tidying their room is, when everything has a home.

Show them that choosing outfits to wear is simpler when they can see what they have and their drawers aren't overflowing.  Help them understand that they will be able to play with their toys more when they can see them, rather than having a lot of them get buried behind or underneath other toy.

3.  Help Your Kids Learn To Let Go

One of my favourite expressions from Peter Walsh is this:

"When everything is special, nothing is special."

To kids, everything can seem special.  They want to hold onto everything.  But then they don't really enjoy their belongings.  Whether it's toys or games or artwork or projects or clothing or stuffed animals or gifts... it can't all be appreciated and valued and played with and used when there's too much of it.  Help them learn to choose the most important things to keep and to let go of the things that are less valuable.

{Again... modeling this is really important!  If you're hanging on to lots of their baby, toddler, or childhood things, then they aren't going to be motivated to give any of them away either.}

Some children don't have any problems giving their toys away.  But others do.  If you've got a sentimental child, there are some great strategies in this post to help them let go of some of their belongings.

4.  Establish Simple Guidelines

Don't make things complicated.  Kids like simple.  And they'll be far more likely to follow through on the skills you're teaching them if they can remember a few simple "rules".

Here are a few examples:

  • Help them understand the one-in-one-out rule to set boundaries for their toys, books, and artwork  
  • Teach them to follow the saying "a place for everything and everything in its place"

5.  Be Consistent

Habits are hard to break.  If your kids are used to leaving their toys out after they finish playing, it will take time for them to develop the new habit of putting them away where they belong.  If they bring their books or activities from one floor to another and then leave them where they used them, it will take time to learn to return them to the floor where they belong.

But new habits can be established.  Pick one thing at a time and focus on that.  Teach your children what you expect them to do.  Give gentle reminders as they are learning this new habit (don't nag or punish).  You can use reward charts or another behaviour modification system to help them become more independent.  Once one habit has been established you can start developing another one.  Keep enforcing the previous one so it remains ingrained.  Over time, these new habits will become more natural and your children won't need as many reminders.

Resources to Help Kids and Teens Learn to be Organized

There are some great kids' books available to speak to your children in a fun and lighthearted way.  This is a great way to introduce the topic of decluttering or organizing without them feeling pressured or threatened.

Here are a few of my favourites (these are affiliate links which means I get a small commission if you buy through these links, at no extra cost to you):

For more tips and strategies you can check out my Helping Kids/Teens Organize board on Pinterest!

So, if your children aren't naturally organized, try these 5 tips and you'll see a difference!  It won't happen over night, but over time, you'll see your kids develop this important life skill!

How do you help your kids get organized? 

Happy organizing!

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