by Rachelle Tannenbaum
“Why can’t my child remember anything?” “Why is his room such a disaster area?” If you’re like most parents, such complaints are probably quite familiar to you. In this issue of the e-zine, we’ll focus on ways to instill the organization habit in your children.
The emphasis here is mainly on organizing physical things, such as toys and clothing. But what if you also want to help your child be more organized when it comes to school? Fortunately for you, we’ve got a class to address that very question. “Helping Disorganized Kids Succeed in School” (FON 343) will be offered this fall, meeting on September 28 and October 5 from 7-9 p.m. at the Arnold campus. Watch our Web site for details! And remember, we can also bring courses to your school or organization, tailored to your group's particular needs.
HELPING YOUR CHILD GET ORGANIZED
by Rachelle Tannenbaum
The goal should be to teach children to organize themselves, not to do it for them. In the short term, this may take more work than less on your part. It may be tempting, for example, to just put away your child’s toys yourself than to wait for a young child to do it slowly. But in the long term, it will all be worth it. For one thing, this will reduce your own stress load. More importantly, however, you’ll be teaching your children skills that will last a lifetime: organization, discipline, self-reliance, and preparedness.
Get your children to realize how organization can work for them. Organization shouldn’t be something imposed “because Mommy said so.” Instead, emphasize the personal benefits. Does your daughter always cry when she can’t find her teddy bear? You can make a suggestion: “Why don’t we make a special place just for Teddy? That way every night you’ll know just where to find him.”
Remember that neatness and organization are not always the same thing. Organization means knowing what needs to be done and where things are. An unmade bed looks messy, but it doesn’t interfere with organization. On the flip side, a room could look very neat (nothing on the floors), but it’s still disorganized if nobody knows what got shoved into which drawer. This isn’t to say that you should expect children to make their beds, but it does mean that you should examine your priorities and pick your battles.
Make it easy for them. People of all ages are more likely to stay organized if it’s easy to do without much effort. This is doubly true for children, who are easily frustrated. Make sure to put toys and other materials in locations that are easily accessible. For example, if your child has difficulty getting the lids off of storage containers, try leaving the lids off. Put things at low heights, or provide a small stepstool. Install a lower closet rod if necessary, and consider taking the closet door away altogether (especially if it’s the folding kind, which are difficult for young hands). For young children, consider putting books in a box or dishpan so that they can flip through the books, rather than having to take each book off the shelf in order to see the cover.
Make sure everything has a home. One reason things don’t get put away is that they don’t have a specified place to go. Make liberal use of containers, shelves, and other organizing systems. (If you can’t find a place for everything, then see “reducing the amount of stuff.”) Many stores sell storage accessories which can be used for a variety of purposes. Clear plastic containers store everything from toys to clothes; the same is true of hanging shoe bags, which work for much more than shoes. Definitely go to these stores (or their Web sites) to get ideas. But don’t feel that you necessarily have to buy expensive storage accessories. You can just as easily use cardboard boxes (get your kids to help decorate them), gallon-size Ziploc bags, and dollar-store wastebaskets to hold your child’s things.
Use small containers, and label them clearly. Large toy boxes and drawers mean that children have to dig around to find what they are looking for. Instead, use smaller containers. Label them so that it is obvious what goes where. For young children, the labels should include pictures and words. This way they don’t have to rely on others for help, and they’ll learn what words go with which pictures.
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