Motivating your Children to Declutter
A guest post by – Cindy Bogard
On day 261, I shared how I got ready for my decluttering journey and the ways in which I had readied my children. So how did I actually get them involved? You’re going to laugh at the irony of this: stopping and tiny rewards. Yes, quitting and stuff!! How funny is that? Let me explain…
We clean and declutter for a predetermined number of minutes or complete a predetermined drawer or shelf and then stop. Stopping is important. Your children need to know that it’s not going to go on and on and on. Even if it’s going dandy, stop. Tomorrow will get here soon enough, and you can do another shelf or work another 20 minutes then.
Praise throughout. Discuss how much you like their cleaner room. Use positive phrases, not negative ones. (“I love how tidy your books look.” Not, “Thank goodness I can finally walk through here without killing myself.”)
- Prompts to help them declutter include:
- Do you still like this?
- Do you still want this?
- Does it still fit?
- Do we have all the parts?
Who else would enjoy this? Sibling? Cousins? Younger neighbors? Thrift store? Sell on Craigslist or Ebay? (Perhaps the child would get money from the sale, although mine don’t.)
If they don’t want to give something up, don’t fight. Any decluttering is better than no decluttering, and it’s all part of a larger process. Just discussing why they still want it will bring reflection.
Then they get their reward. My kids get an actual reward, although another type of reward system could be set up around privileges or special activities. What I have for my children is small, well chosen, and desirable stuff, not things grabbed willy nilly in the “little plastic junk” aisle; things I might have purchased anyway or an upgrade of something I would have purchased (a snazzier folder for school instead of a plain one, for example). I have given them pretty colored pens (just 2, not the whole pack), sticky notes (my youngest loves them), quarters, Bella Sara collecting cards, a package of gum, and once even a package of cuter-than-normal panties. (Yes, the kid needed underwear, and I managed to turn it into a reward.) If your child has bigger dreams (a Wii game, for example), I’m sure you could work on a points system for earning it a little at a time.
As the summer has progressed, I have stopped giving rewards for every single decluttering and now use them for motivation when interest is low or when they do an additional chore above what I have asked.
When I ask, “Who wants their room worked on today?” I can bet that I’ll hear a duet of “mmmeeee.”
ITEM 262 OF 365 LESS THINGS
Just one more thing that has been hidden away since they kept dropping off the wall.