It's Never Too EarlyHere's how to encourage children to adopt an organized approach to their bedrooms - without using those awful four words
The four most dreaded words in a parent's vocabulary: "Clean up your room."
The answer to this angst, organizing experts say, is to remember they are children, with all the feelings and motivations that come with the job.
"The key thing to remember when working with children is they feel things differently than adults which is why they cry more openly, laugh more deeply, feel fear more dramatically and play with more vigor than most adults," says Wenndi Freer, owner of Engage The Flow, a space-clearing service in Encinitas, Calif. "When a parent takes the time to recognize that the room feels good when it's clean, kids get it. If you can start early and work with your child at this level, the feeling level, they will quickly recognize that a clean room just feels better than a messy one."
The most effective way to teach this skill, says Freer, is to be in the room with your child and break each task down into mini steps.
"By gently guiding them through the process rather than doing it for them, children learn to feel a sense of accomplishment," says Freer.
"Explain to them that everything has a 'home,' just like they do," says Jan Hayner, professional organizer in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. "So at night, everything goes back 'home' until the next time they need it."
Make sure that there is a hamper for dirty clothes, says Hayner. Add clothes rods that kids can reach. They will hang things up if they can reach a rod without using a chair.
For small items, use a hanging shoe bag (the pockets are great), labeled check boxes wrapped in contact paper to match the room or muffin tins-painted to match the room.
"Designate a specific place for backpacks, lunch boxes and books," says Freer. Homework needs to go back into the backpack as soon as it's completed. By having folders in the backpack, children can use their backpacks like adults filing cabinets, says Freer.
Toys, toys, toys
Select appropriate shelving and storage containers that will work for toys, labeling containers with letters or pictures of the item so the child will know where they go, says Barry J. Izsak, a professional organizer in Austin, Texas. When your child gets a new toy, ask them which toy they would like to give away, adds Izsak. When a child is finished playing with a toy, he or she must put it back before playing with another toy. All toys must be put away before dinner, bedtime and other appropriate times.
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