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While some children need no help in this area, other children tend to be very disorganized.  This is hard on the child and the parent because it can lead to frustration, misplacing important papers, and losing personal items.  Clutter can even increase anxiety and can bring about signs of depression. 

Today we are sharing some strategies for helping the disorganized child be more organized.   Typically, when a child is disorganized, it impacts their bedroom,  their desk/workspace, and their closet the most.  Toys, clothes, and school papers often cover every surface and fill every nook and cranny.

Tips for helping the disorganized child be more organized

So what can we do about the problem?  We don’t want to continue to nag our children, but we also don’t want them to forget important things or lose important things because of being disorganized.   The main key to organization is having fewer things and having a place for everything.

Tips for helping the disorganized child be more organized

I know that a messy desk is often a sign of genius (read that story here!), but I also want to help when I see a child that is struggling to keep himself or herself on task because of disorganization.

1. Keep Needed Items

Parents can assist their child by determining which items are needed. One way to decide which items are really needed is to look at what is used on a regular basis.

Careful consideration should be given to the items in each of the following categories:

Toys, Games, and Books.
Perhaps the child struggles with reading. It is commendable to encourage the child to read. Bookstores are on every corner, and the child’s room can soon look like a library. Consider whether or not the books are actually read. A less-cluttered option could be to make a weekly trip to the local library.

Let the child choose a few interesting books. The library books will take up less space and will assist the child is keeping his room clean.

School Supplies.
Stores are filled with endless items to assist with organization. However, if the items are distractions, or if they are not used they are really in the way. They cause more of a problem than a help. One example of this is highlighters. Used effectively, highlighters are a wonderful tool for focused study.

However, many students choose to use them to highlight every line in a text or to simply color pictures. If the child is in middle school and does not use highlighters effectively, they are more of a distraction than a help. Highlighters could be removed from the mass of school supplies to assist the child with the organization.

The greatest pair of jeans in the world is only cluttered if the child never wears them. The jeans become a time-clutter item as well if they are cause for discussion on a school morning.   Helping children to stay organized by trimming his closet, so that it only holds the items that are needed or worn, will really help.  So many times outgrown or disliked clothes stay in the closet, just to avoid the task of going through the clothes and making choices.   In the long run, too many things just lead to more mess.

Personal Care Items and Accessories.
These items can range from a collection of hair bows to a large array of books or building blocks. Again, these items are wonderful gifts, and they encourage self-care and build self-esteem. It is helpful, however, to periodically clean them out and to keep only the regularly used items.

Tips for helping the disorganized child be more organized

2. Have a Place for Each Item

Help the child determine a place for each item. If the items have a specific home, they will be much easier to pick up and maintained in an organized fashion.

Many children and adults struggle organization. Taking care of fewer items leaves more time for fun.  This helps because it reduces the risk of distraction & increases the possibility of more focus, which offers a sense of accomplishment.

3. Create Visual Reminders

For very important tasks, children may do well with reminder sticky notes placed prominently. For instance, if a child has to turn in a textbook on a certain day, a written reminder (as long as it is very visible) may help jog their memory to take it to school.

4. Show Kids What is Expected of Them (Pictures work!)

Another strategy is for the parent to clearly define what is expected of the child before assigning them a task. Like all children, ADD children to learn by different methods. Some kids may be verbal learners (although almost all children with ADD are not good at remembering lists, so parents may have to tell them something they want to be done, wait for them to complete it and then assign them the next task), although the majority of ADD children tend to be visual learners.

For these children, parents will want to show the children exactly what they want to be done – for instance, take a photograph of their room when it is cleaned the way it should be done and then tack this to a bulletin board in their room or tape it to the back of their bedroom door, so they can look at it and see what needs to be done to make the photo “match” the room.

5. Empower Them

Parents can inspire their child with words of praise when some of these strategies are successfully employed. Helping a child see that he or she can figure out ways to work with their condition is empowering.   Parental pride goes a long way toward a successful continuation of these good habits.  Let your child know that you are proud of the way that they are taking care of their space and their things.

These strategies will help to give your child calm, organized home atmosphere.  They are worth the time and effort to work to help your child understand and implement them.

For more tips, check out this tip on how to teach a child to clean their room without nagging them. 

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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1 Comment

  1. Very useful advice, the most important thing is to get rid of unused items. I think it’s a good time to declutter your flat for spring.