Tips for handling trouble with organization
- Quick tip 1Count to five.Count to five.
If you find that they haven’t cleaned up or they’ve lost something again, say nothing for five seconds. Remind yourself they’re not doing it on purpose.
- Quick tip 2Don’t get personal.Don’t get personal.
Comment on the situation, not on kids personally. Say things like “This desk is messy” instead of “You’re messy.”
- Quick tip 3Break down tasks.Break down tasks.
Kids who struggle with organization often have trouble putting the steps of a task in the right order. Break it down into smaller, sequential chunks. For long-term assignments, make a deadline for each chunk.
- Quick tip 4Make a checklist.Make a checklist.
Make a visual or written checklist of what they need to do and when. Color-coding, like using different colors for different kinds of tasks on a calendar, can also help.
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.