Look around your current space. Is it clean and pristine, slightly sloppy or does it look like a tornado went off?
Now think about your parent’s organization skills. How did they shape your current skills? How do your skills impact your child’s skills? Some might say, “Bah if my skills impacted my child, they would be neat!” Go a little deeper. If your child is a bit of a Tasmanian Devil, how might it feel for them to have a perfectly organized parent?
Why can’t we mold our children into perfectly organized cherubs? Chances are your child a) does not have the tools b) does not know what to do with the tools they have and c) can’t buy into the system you are providing.
My mother would clean my disaster of a room and proudly exclaim, “See doesn’t that feel better?” I would shrug because the honest answer was… I was not bothered by it. I did not have a PERSONAL pain point related to the organization of my room. My parents did, my college roommate did, but I could not see the connection (now I realize that is because of my ADHD...but that is another story).
Let’s get curious about your kid’s organization skills.
· What do they think when they see an organized space?
· What do they feel?
· How does that compare to a disorganized space?
They may reply they don’t care about the mess. As a parent, that answer might drive you bonkers, but science is showing that these executive functions are developing later in kids (as late as 19-25). It’s not that your child wants to be drive you insane- their brains haven’t fully developed the skills to handle organization?
The habit graph I use with my students helps them see the correlation between habits and outcomes. Each week we assess their goals and view the relationship between goal attainment and grades, family and social life. My students see the positive and negative effects of their choices and begin to work towards acquiring more positive choices. The students I work with who struggle with organization, start to realize that there is a direct correlation between organization and a decrease in stress.
Helping students reach this point requires patience, something that comes in short supply as parents. There is not a quick fix, and it requires a process of success and failure from both parent and child.
As a parent I encourage you to try two of the following:
1) Reflect on your childhood experience and how it impacted your organization. Was it a positive or negative experience? Was there a specific incident that shaped the way you are now?
2) Have a non-judgmental conversation with your teen about their organization. Can they connect the dots? How do they feel about it? As they share, do not offer solutions. Your only purpose is to listen.
These exercises may seem futile-but what leads to greater frustration? Thinking your child is lazy or understanding they may be view organization from a different lens?
As a coach, patience is abundant with my students. It gives them time to try new techniques and test how new behaviors alter their lives. I use the falters as further learning experiences to help them grow their skills.
As a parent to two wonderful daughters….my patience is not always perfect. If we are forgiving towards ourselves for our shortcomings it can help our own growth as we parent our children.