As part of my series on decluttering with kids, why not get them to take ownership?
I worked with a family and they’ve got three kids and the girls were five and seven and a little boy. When I arrived they’d got toys everywhere, there was loads and loads of stuff, and they were saying things like “I’m bored”. They couldn’t really see the woods for the trees. So we needed to thin out with the items, we needed to get rid of some of this stuff, because they were just too overwhelmed with everything that was there.
One of the tricks that we used was getting the children to take real ownership of the actual items, and where they were gonna live as well. We’d got some storage units and what we did was we got them to make the labels for those storage units.
Now if I had labeled them, it probably would have been superheroes or trains or whatever as that category. But one of the important things about people and how they think about things is trying to get them to put on that label, the closest thing that they think about when they think about that item.
So it might be superheroes and it might be a picture of a unicorn, or it might be a rainbow and that might mean something to them. It’s the thing that gets them to that category the fastest.
That’s not necessarily a logical thing.
It’s a really important part of it because if they then see that, they identify straight away with that. It’s not that it’s necessarily got the right name on it or anything like that. But it means something to them.
In these days of people communicating in all sorts of different ways and people struggling with communication, maybe struggling with words, with dyslexia things like that then pictures can be really really useful.
So getting the kids to get creative and draw the pictures for what was going to go into that box, was not only a great thing to get them involved in it, but also when they’re putting it away they know exactly where it’s going to go because they’ve made the decision about what is on the outside of that box.
Getting them to do it might be a different matter, but it gives you a way for them to kind of own what they’re doing and get involved in it as well. And it is their choice really – “okay what are you gonna put on the box where we have your dolls?” They might draw a big pink heart, and that might be the thing that means something to them.
So getting them to take that ownership, getting them to hang their clothes where they want them. “Okay, where do you want that in your wardrobe?” And they might have all their fairy costumes in the middle and everything else squished to the outside, but then it’s them getting involved, it’s them taking ownership.
Really get them to think about how they want to do it and not just do it the way we want to.