Remember the first time you said it and then thought “That’s my mother!” And then the first time your child did something and you thought, “Oh! That was me at that age!”
A role model in ways we hadn’t predicted or noticed ’til now.
That’s the first suggestion for helping kids help themselves to get more organized. Because it has to start with us, the adults, the role models.
Ask yourself, a family member or a friend : “What do I role model to my child?”
That means with your own belongings and in how you manage your time.
I can’t tell you how many people don’t realize the power of our own actions. We give ourselves far less credit than the kids do.
A sense of time: As boring as we may find routines sometimes, these practices and structures form an anchor for our days. They help us learn a sense of time and how long things take.
Morning routines, with multiple things to do, form a block of time. That’s one way to begin to help your child to understand “how long” 15 minutes is, or an hour. Just think what an important organizing concept this is for a growing child. An accurate sense of how much time has passed is innate for some but not for all of us.
Two questions to ask yourself:
- Who is the adult who has a good sense of time and management of it;
- Who is the best teacher for this particular child?
So it could be one person who meets both criteria.
ut it also may be two people: parents, other family member or other child.
The routines: Work with your child to set up his or her routines for morning and evening. Teach as you go. Design a system of reminders which will work for both of you. Some people use whiteboards. Some use chore charts they make themselves. Some use online systems.
Involve your child in deciding which system to use. When your mom told you not to do something because it would be a mistake, did you do it anyway? And when you did it, how much better did that lesson stick with you than simply heeding advice?
Not sure which chores to give out? Try this article: What chores can different aged children handle?
Incentives: These are all from moms:
- doing a dance in front of an audience of family members;
- giving computer time;
- giving dedicated time with mom, dad;
- taking away something important – TV time, game time or asking for more chore time on a different chore;
- positive comments at weekly family meeting;
- if it’s in the stair basket at the end of the week, mom/dad gets to decide what happens to it.
Teaching: Think of this organizing as teaching life skills. When you teach, what do you need to do to get your message across?
- Be specific in your expectations or goal: “Clean your room” becomes “I want the bed made, the floor picked up, the books on the shelves.” and so forth. “Do your homework” requires discussion on what needs to get done, by when, in what smaller steps and maybe in how it gets done (more below).
- Show and tell: Together, make the bed or clear the floor or *most important* break down the 2 week project into smaller, interim steps/deadlines/goals.
- Doing this several times gives you a sense of what’s taking and what’s not.
- Bring in the older kids, especially when you have an organizer personality. Everyone organizes differently because we’re wired so differently – so watch the balance of doing something one person’s way versus how it will really work for a particular child.
- Start small. We learn in bits and pieces, so if you have multiple issues to address, pick a small issue. Use success there to motivate onto bigger projects. Starting with something too big or too many issues at once will overwhelm a child.
- Show, show, show as you tell, then let the child do it with you alongside (let go), and then back off even more when you know it’s taking and monitor. If you’re a manager in your career, this sounds familiar.
- Enforce. As frustrated as you become, if you back away, eventually you lose clout and in small ways, you don’t get listened to.
- Organizing the puzzle pieces of demands on their time;
- If your child needs a crisis to spring into action and this drives you crazy;
- Playing music really can improve focus for some kids and for certain types of tasks;
- The attention issue ` how long can they last doing homework anyway?