This post is the last in the series of four articles about Taming Kid’s Clutter. Remedy your kids’ clutter by providing the support they need to create more sanity and consistency in your home!
Support! Are you supporting your children’s successes? Are you making it easier for them to do what they need to do to be successful? Here are some great tips to encourage your kids to be more self-monitoring and self-sufficient in taming their own clutter by focusing on the Support dimension.
Set Family Ground Rules
Imagine what life would be like without any rules. Imagine what it would be like to drive down a road with no lines or signs to let you know where you are (or where oncoming traffic might be)? Rules are necessary for all people to maintain a way of doing things. The number one differentiator in families that feel in control and those that feel out of control centers around “Rules of Engagement” within the family boundaries.
Do you have any rules in your household? Do you have boundaries within your walls that help your children to self-monitor? Are your children allowed to do whatever they want when they want to? Ground rules can cover anything from “how we do chores” to when, where, and how your family gathers for mealtime. Many families have let go of rules because parents are “tired of nagging”. But, it’s proven that rules or ways of doing things are a very clear way to create a circle of support – or a support system within your family.
Use Consistent Rewards
The age-old battle between allowance or no allowance is always a hot one. In your home, decide if a monetary reward is appropriate. Some families totally believe in them, others devise elaborate rewards systems that appeal to different children’s interests – they might earn movie tickets, or coupons for computer/gaming time for instance. Some families simply choose to define chores as a part of being a family member! We’ve tried several different motivators, and I’ve noticed that different ideas have worked at different times.
Now that my children are teens they do best with the “collaborative” theory of – “we’re all part of a family and work together toward a whole”. This successful formula goes through ebbs and flows – and some weeks are better than others! Whatever you decide for your family, consider that whatever rewards you create should appeal to both your children’s internal (self-satisfaction and success) as well as external (publicly acknowledging and thanking them for their contributions and jobs well done at dinnertime) needs… and – be as consistent as possible with rewards.
Communicate Regularly & Often
A couple of years ago, my 7-year-old son was “pokey” and often running way behind the family when we’d prepare to go places. Often, we’d raise our voices or put pressure on him to get moving, get ready or get out the door, making him feel self-conscious and upset. After one breakdown, he came out with: “the reason I’m never ready is that you never tell me what is going on until we’re ready to leave!” and – he was right! In our big planning attempt, we didn’t think to include the 7-year-old… he just was expected to go with the flow. This caused us to sit down and start thinking about better ways to be sure he knew what was expected, scheduled and coming up.
We created a family calendar, and a meeting on Sunday nights to accomplish the task. It has worked fabulously. We have a calendar that we update on the refrigerator for each of our evening activities, and it also includes each night’s dinner menu. We take 10 minutes on Sunday nights to collectively talk about the week ahead, we write it onto the calendar, and if changes come up – each family member is responsible for updating the information. Communicating regularly and often is a huge support mechanism for a family to operate more smoothly and consistently over time.
Creating a special time as a family is an important step in a life that feels supportive to your children. Kids look forward to time with family. It makes them feel comforted and secure to know that “this is how we do it in our family”. Whether family time revolves around meals, special activities, weekend routines, or whatever, it is important to design family time and call it that. When we decided to have Family Game Night as Thursday night, our kids held us accountable. When we declared that we would have game night on Thursdays – they now manage it for us. Even if we only have time for a quick game of Uno, we still have Thursday nights as our mid-week time as a family.
Seek To Understand Before Being Understood
When emotions run high for your children, chances are there is a reason. Most kids are agreeable, helpful and want to please you unless provoked by other circumstances. When things go awry, one word of advice that I learned from a wise sage (my mom) long ago was to try to understand first, before working to be understood… and this one is easier said than done! Sometimes kid’s needs are legitimate and may be as pressing to them as yours are to you! If you find yourself in a tight spot with your child, instead of pressing toward your point harder, stop and see if repeating their words back to them, helps. When tension is high, we all want others to validate our feelings and make sure we are heard. Children are no different. To make them feel supported, try to understand their needs first, then move toward the desired result together.
Ask For Help
Kids who help around the house feel more connected to the success of the family as a whole. Chores teach the value of a routine, a structure, and a process. Chores help improve cognitive processing, problem-solving, time management, and self-awareness. They support mastery and behavior transfer into adulthood. Even children who have physical disabilities can be given meaningful chores to help the family.
Divide It Up – Many Hands Make Light Work
My mom was raised on a farm. In her house, the common saying was: “many hands make light work”. This saying has made it’s way to another generation and is a common one around our home. Dividing tasks up by skills and abilities makes them much easier and less daunting. It keeps things fair and teaches kids that they own part of the success of the family. Dividing tasks and chores up appropriate to age is a wonderful way to build consistency and have children feel supported. Here’s a great resource for age-appropriate chores on ListPlanIt.com. Running a household requires many hands. And, as my mom always says… many hands make light work!
Time Outs and Do-Overs
There are so many times when I wish life allowed for Time Outs and Do-Overs. There’s no stopping you from instituting a Time Out or Do Over policy in your family. Use it when you need it – or allow kids to call a time out or do-over when they forget tasks and chores.
A time out focuses on the positive and supports the behaviors you want rather than focusing on failures. Positive reinforcement lightens punishment and makes it much easier for kids to take the risk again in the future because they won’t operate from fear of failure. It will support your kids because it builds responsibility and accountability. It also helps to keep the task in their hands – and allows them to succeed.
Helping kids tame clutter is much easier when positive behavior is supported by consistent positive reinforcement. Rules and systems make families operate more smoothly and help tasks feel managed throughout your home. If you’d like to look at your current level of “organizing health” in your own behaviors, or those of your children, take the “support” quiz to assess how your family is doing now! Or, if you’d like a guide to helping you get organized at home, my ebook and weekly audio course Get Organized To Keep Your Family Sane provides 23 tips and an e-book to keep you on track. To download it, go here.