Saturday Jan 07, 2023
19 - Handling Messy Rooms and Too Many Toys
Saturday Jan 07, 2023
Saturday Jan 07, 2023
I'm Bill Corbett, the author of the book LOVE, LIMITS & LESSONS: A PARENT'S GUIDE TO RAISING COOPERATIVE KIDS and I've spent over 25 years working with parents and teachers with children with challenging behaviors. One of those challenging behaviors really drove ME crazy until I figured it out what to do about it. So how would you like some solutions to help you deal with your kids messy room and too many toys?
In order for this to happen, I first need to get you to consider the fact that children don't naturally understand the importance of being organized and structured. They have to learn this over time, some of it from the adults caring for them and a whole lot more organically on their own. It takes time for them to develop this skill and it takes lots of patience on the part of the adults caring for them.
One day I had had it with my daughter's messy room. I couldn't stand walking by the doorway to her room every day and seeing all the chaos. As I did, I remembered how my parents forced me to clean my room and I hated that they did that. I was punished for the messy room and all I thought about was how much I hated my parents. I felt like the condition of my room was more important than our relationship. So I knew I didn't want to become my parents and start yelling at her. One family member use to go into their child's room when she was at school and box up all of her things, leaving her with an empty room. She would then get them all back after a 2-week span of time. I didn't think very much about that technique and didn't want to do that either.
So, I waited for a moment when I felt like I could remain calm and when my daughter seemed like she was open to learning or at least open to hear me. I got her to sit at the table with me and I used the old I FEEL _________ WHEN _________ communications technique that we used at the office. I said, "Honey, I feel really stressed out whenever I have to look into your room and see all of the mess. What could you do to help me with this problem." I was totally amazed when she said, "I'll keep my door closed." Now, that didn't solve the messy room problem, but it did solve my feeling stress problem, so I accepted it.
The solution she offered wasn't ideal, but I was OK with it. It was a good start because I was a firm believer that her room belonged to HER and not to me. Some parents demand that all their kid's bedroom doors remain open so they can monitor what's going on, but I never had to worry about that. We had already established house rules that no food or entertainment electronics were allowed in bedrooms, including cell phones, tablets and laptops.
After we implemented the new, THE DOOR IS KEPT CLOSED WHEN IT'S MESSY rule, there were obviously times when I saw that it was open, and the room wasn't cleaned up. So, I would use the ONE WORD REMINDER rule when I saw it... I would say "DOOR." She would huff and puff and growl, and sometimes even blurt out, "Oh my gosh Dad, this is so stupid!" She would then go close her door. While we're on this reminder technique, I urge all parents to talk less when the need to remind arises. Instead of saying, "Jason, how many times do I have to tell you to go hang your jacket up. There are children in foreign countries who would love to have a jacket as nice as yours and look how you abuse yours and leave it laying around for others to step on." I had to add that KIDS IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES thing as a reminder of how we tend to guilt our kids into doing some things.
Anyway, instead of yelling at Jason to hang his Jacket up, I tell parents to say use one word.... JACKET. If they've left their book bag laying in the middle of room, calmly say, "Jason, BOOK BAG." When I started using this one-word technique, my kids would mimic me and repeat what I had said, but in a sassy tone. I ignored it and they put the book bag away. But if you make an issue of the sassiness, they are going to love it because it affected you and it made them feel powerful over you in that moment. If your kids do it to you, just ignore it, don't give their response any value.
If you listened to episode 15, I featured an excerpt from a live workshop with a room full of parents and teachers, eager to learn how to manage challenging behaviors. I was delivering my 10 IRREFULTABLE FACTS ABOUT KIDS workshop and in that episode segment, the topic was the challenge of transitioning children quicker and easier. That kids have NO time management skills. In this episode I offer the 2nd excerpt from that recording and the 2nd irrefutable fact. It's that kids are messy and disorganized, and forcing them or punishing them will not help them develop that skill any quicker. It will only destroy your relationship with them.
Let's go over a few helpful tips related to disorganized habits with our kids and how to help them transition:
- Their bedroom belongs to them, not to you. Allow them to have that place they can go to for privacy and safety
- Allow them to set that bedroom up to their liking. Set up boundaries as far as what can be in there and home much money can be spent to set it up
- Spend time controlling what goes IN that bedroom, not the organization of that room
- Use one word to remind your kids of rules or agreements, instead of talking too much, which will get you ignored
- Consider creating a playroom where all toys will go and where playtime occurs. If you don't have a separate room, partition off a section of the living room, dining room or basement for toys and for playtime. Avoid using the bedroom.
- If it's important to you to have an area cleaned up and organized, make a game out of it. I used to bring on my TV announcer voice and challenge my kids to a race to see who can pick up more toys than me
- Hire a personal organizer to help you establish better organization with their toys
- Look for organization ideas on Pinterest or ask other parents what they have found works for them
- If your kids have too many toys, put some away out of their reach. It'll be like Christmas all over again when you take some down from the attic or storage in the garage after a few weeks without those toys.
- Tell them that you only have space for 2 or 3 toys and the rest have to be put away out of reach or donated.
- Put ALL of their toys out of their reach and make a rule that only one toy can be out at a time. If they want to change toys, then all of the parts/pieces of the current toy had to be picked up stored to get the next toy
If you have questions that I can answer for you, I hope you will consider joining my RAISING AN INDEPENDENT CHILD Facebook page. I'd love to hear from you and help you implement some of these ideas. But let me caution you. Don't try to implement everything you learn in this podcast, all at once. It could overwhelm you. Pick just one or two tips at a time and do them over and over. Then replay the episodes at a later time to learn more. Thanks again for listening and please consider sharing or subscribing to this podcast. All information in this podcast is the property of Bill Corbett and Cooperative Kids Publishing. Copyright 2023. All rights reserved.
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