Teach Your Children Good Decluttering Habits

Teach Your Children Good Decluttering Habits

by Crystal Nerpel

As you send your children off to school remember that their most important and influential teacher is you, and home is their first learning environment. Expecting children to be involved in the care of their home and belongings teaches them valuable life lessons: responsibility, a sense of pride, feeling accomplished, and practicing problem-solving skills. These lessons will serve them well in school and beyond.

How do you help your children develop good decluttering habits? I’m glad you asked!


Clear and Developmentally Appropriate Expectations 

Never assume.  Your children won’t always instinctively know what you expect of them. You have to tell them. Sometimes, you have to tell them over and over. That’s parenting. Don’t give up. Creating good habits takes time. Hearing the expectations is helpful, but hearing and seeing the expectations is better. Use visual reinforcement. A chore chart, check list, and modeling are examples of visual reinforcement.

Avoid frustration.  It’s crucial to keep expectations developmentally appropriate. Don’t set the bar too high or too low. Assigning tasks that are too difficult will create frustration for both of you. Frustration creates more chaos. We want to reduce chaos not create it. On the flip side, setting expectations too low doesn’t allow for growth. Being slightly challenged from time to time is good!


Set Them Up For Success

Be consistent.  This is so important. Children thrive on routine and consistency. For instance, maybe you spend 10 minutes each night picking up the playroom. The key is to do it every night – not every so often, not when you aren’t too tired to supervise, and not when they feel like doing it. Do it every single night. Stick to it. It will eventually become a habit.

Teach by example.  Children are very observant. They are taking it all in even when you don’t realize it. If you expect your children to pick up after themselves, make sure you are doing the same. Trust me, they notice!

Practice and patience.  This is a learning process for everyone involved. At first, show your kids how to pick up after themselves by working alongside them. Do this with them many times. Gradually, give them more and more of the workload. Eventually, they will be able to do it all on their own. You might not even have to remind them.
Fingers crossed!

Praise.  Make sure your children are aware that you notice their effort. Look for progress, not perfection. When they put in the effort say, “Thank you for doing a good job.” or “I can tell you put a lot of effort into that.” Hugs and high-fives work too. Praise creates positive action and gives them the confidence and motivation to do it again.

Helping children develop good decluttering habits doesn’t happen in one day, one week, or even one month. Be patient as you go through this process and never expect perfection. Remember to be consistent, set good examples, and practice with them. Eventually, you’ll start to see a shift in habits.

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