Organization and routines help all individuals function better in every area of life, especially children who demonstrate many of the following characteristics:
• difficulty with attention and concentration when not on a flat screen
• sloppy and disorganized
• makes a lot of careless errors
• lacks attention to details
• often fails to follow through on instructions, chores, and schoolwork
• constantly misplacing or losing things
• loses track of time
Children who demonstrate many of the above characteristics are usually the most resistant to organization and routines but need it the most. Once a child, teen or adult begins to derive benefits from the new behaviors, they will be less resistant in incorporating these new behaviors in their daily life and will gain pride from their new and more efficient procedures.
Organization and routines help kids:
• cooperate better
• understand what is expected of them
• reduce stress and anxiety for everyone in the household
• look forward and plan ahead
• learn to take charge of their responsibilities and activities
• feel more confident and self-assured
• manage time better
• get things done more effectively and efficiently
• become more productive
• become more consistent in a positive way
• set goals
• do better in school
Start being a role model when your child is very young. There is a lot of research that suggests a child’s organizational behavior patterns are starting to be developed as early as two or three. Kids that come from disorganized homes where belongings aren’t put away and schedules aren’t used, seldom learn that life can run smoother if things are organized and scheduled.
Everyone should have “a place for everything and everything in its place,” so when you need something you can locate it without wasting time searching. The time you save by organizing possessions adds up. This new saved time could be used more for the things you enjoy doing.
It is very important to stress follow through and completing things. If they start doing this when they are young, it will carry over to other more important things when they are older.
A few examples:
• Put clothes away after taking them off or place them into the dirty clothes basket (not leaving
them on their bed or floor).
• Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher after use and wipe the table.
• Close the toilet lid.
• Hang up their towels after use, if they can reach the towel rack.
• Put toys, books etc. away after they are finished using them.
• Complete their chores without being reminded.
All children need to have Daily Schedules and Responsibility (Chores).
The following is just an example of a Daily Schedule. You and your child can develop your own scheduling chart or there are many free templates online to choose from. Always make sure you let your child have as much input as possible.
Breakfast (Important to have protein for breakfast and no sugary foods or fruit juices)
Clears the table
Put PJs away or in dirty clothes
Straighten or make the bed
Leave for school
Come home from school
Some kids do better right after a short break when they arrive home from school and other kids do better after dinner. I would prefer that a child does homework after dinner, so they can have as much unstructured physical play and social interaction as possible. The unstructured physical play does not include video games or TV. Exercise is so important, especially today. Studies estimate that children are as much as 75% less active in their physical play as they were a few decades ago. Decide what works best and stick to a specific time every day.
Set the table for dinner
Complete other chores
Help clear the table
Homework (Have a set place for homework.)
Set out clothes for the next day
Make sure homework assignments are in their backpack
Sleep (Young children need at least 9 -10 hrs. of sleep.)
Encourage as much social interaction and physical play as possible.
Plan fun things to do together.
Plan the next week. Write down any important or fun activities planned for the coming week, so the child has something to look forward to.
The more your child does things for themselves and the least you do for them, the more you help them. Most of the time even toddlers like to be helpful.
They need to know what you expect from them, so work beside them a few times demonstrating the proper way to do things. Most will not do things great at first. Use encouragement more than criticism to get them to do a better job.
You can give a star or sticker for every chore they complete and at the end of the week a reward and a lot of praise. Try to make it fun.
We have found that the erasable magnetic Chore Charts work well. See examples on Amazon.
Ages 4 – 7
Clearing the dishes
Set the table
Clean and organize their bedroom
Fold towels and dish clothes
Sort the clean socks
Ages 8 – 10
Help make a grocery list
Prepare a menu for certain days
Put groceries away
Make own healthy breakfast, lunch or snack
Set the table
Help make dinner
Rinse and load dishes in the dishwasher
Clean and organize their bedroom
Help do laundry and put away
Help with yard work
Take out trash
Fold towels and put away
Consistency and follow through are very important in creating structure in your home. Keep things positive. Reward and praise your child for following the schedule and being organized. This will help them want to continue to follow these new routines into their future and maybe most importantly, to also be a good role model.
Dr. Don Helms