Understanding why kids struggle with organization

By Andrew M.I. Lee, JD

Lots of kids have messy rooms and cluttered backpacks. Most will eventually organize their things because they can’t stand the mess or don’t want to get in trouble. 

Then there are kids who are never neat or organized no matter what the consequence is. Their things are all over the place, and they don’t clean up even when they’re told to. Why does that happen?

Some people see this behavior and assume it’s laziness or defiance. But many kids really do struggle with organization and all the skills that go into it. So do many adults.

Organization isn’t just about keeping track of things. It’s also about organizing your thoughts, managing your time, planning, and knowing how to get things done. It means being able to set goals and do things in the right order.

People struggle with organization for different reasons. A common one is difficulty with a set of skills called executive function. No matter the cause, there are strategies that can help at every age.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Andrew M.I. Lee, JD is an editor and attorney who strives to help people understand complex legal, education, and parenting issues.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Bob Cunningham, EdM serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.