This post is Part 3 in the series of 4. Remedy your kids’ behaviors to create more sanity and consistency in your home!
Sure… Go ahead… Try to change my kids’ behaviors! I’ve tried for years! Me too! But, here are a few pointers that have actually worked with mine!
A system is a way of doing things. For kids – it’s easily described as a routine, approach, or common way of working inside a home or family. Here are some great tips to support consistent behaviors by creating your systems to really work for your kids.
Make It Intuitive
I have no mudroom in my home, and the entrance we use most often is through the garage. In order to help support consistent desired behaviors, I designed the garage entry area exactly how I wanted it to be used. There is a space for the essentials: backpacks, shoes, coats, gloves etc. and everything is easy and accessible. These pictures demonstrate the intuitiveness of the “landing pad” at our house. Because it is easy, accessible, and labeled, even visitors intuitively know what to do with their stuff when they walk in. It’s intuitive because it’s designed functionally around the behaviors we want to support.
Keep It Simple…
When working with kids, the easiest solution is always the best. Using hooks instead of hangers, for instance, will be easier for kids to use, and will help children in the long run. Open tubs are more simple to use than drawers, categorized drawers work better than smaller, more finite spaces. Kids are most likely to do the easiest thing, so creating your space to be easy to use will help support consistent behaviors.
Give Items An Address
Create a home for your items everywhere. Giving items, collections, toys, tools, etc. an “address” is a great way to help kid’s behaviors to be consistent. They’ll know where items live and can return them when they are done with them. If they forget and leave things out, you can always ask: Where does this item live? And children will automatically return items to their homes without any questions asked.
Match Storage Solutions To How Items Are Used
For a family of four, we seem to have A LOT of shoes! Since we’re a shoes-off house, we would end up having piles of shoes to stumble over as we entered the house. This was frustrating – to say the least! After trying SEVERAL different shoe organizing solutions, and constantly being overwhelmed by the number of shoes there, I decided the best way was to give each person their own “container”. (A container is defined as anything that contains or can contain something, such as a carton, box, crate, or can.) These buckets (once homes to the bushes in our garden) were just the solution we needed. They are heavy-duty plastic and once I scrubbed them out, labeled them – they work wonderfully to contain shoes to a capacity we can handle. When the container is full – the overflow shoes need to find their way back into each person’s closet. For summer, shoes are dropped right in the corresponding bucket. In winter, the boot trays catch the overflow of wintery, wet, or dirty shoes. Labels keep things easy to assign and find… especially when shoes go “walking” on their own!
Manage Incoming Papers
One of the prevailing systems affecting most families is how they handle paper. I recommend setting up paper systems supporting how you use and retrieve information. For phone lists, take out menus, school schedules etc. We use this “Flip File” (left of the text). This tool is traditionally used in call centers to allow quick information access for customer service reps. We find it works excellently on our refrigerator for all our “Quick” Info needs. Each plastic tab holds different lists to ensure we can find what we need in a moment’s notice. All the lists are updated regularly as new lists arrive.
Routines, Chores, Maintenance
One of the best things that support successful and lasting behaviors in your home is routine. Children come to rely on family routines as “the way we do it”. Although it may seem too controlling to some parents, a routine has quite the opposite effect. According to psychology experts, family routines work to create and define an “empathic envelope” where kids intuitively understand family boundaries. These boundaries actually help children feel in control and comfort. And once introduced, and supported consistently, the children rely on routines as base notes or anchors in the home. Most families have common routines for bedtime, weekends, homework, maintenance, (chores)… Creating routines from scratch requires identifying chores and ways kids can help, assigning tasks according to kid’s abilities, likes and dislikes, and then being consistent in applying and rewarding their efforts.
Create An Information Center For Kid’s Activities
Your information center should contain any vital information your family needs on an ongoing basis. Any information that is held temporarily (school folders, weekly agendas, sports or activity schedules), should be easy to locate and update when the new information comes in. In our home, we have a home for activities information center, as well as an information center. If you’ve set up an information center that’s easily accessible for your kids, as they mature, they will begin to manage the information themselves. Starting right will help support behaviors that will keep them organized throughout their lives!
Design A Reasonable Rewards System
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. Some families simply choose to define chores as a part of being a family member! Whatever you decide for your family, consider that rewards for kids should appeal to both 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 again – be consistent with these rewards.
One of the best ways to create lasting behavior changes for kids is to make it easy for them to do what you’d like them to do. Designing your spaces around how you wish them to be used, gives kids intuitive behavioral cues… and their behaviors are likely to fall in place automatically.
Helping kids tame clutter is much easier when their behaviors are supported by consistent, easy systems 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 quizzes to assess your breakdowns!