Helping your child to get organised

May 15, 2018

Helping your child to get organised

Do you find you spend too much time nagging your children to get organised? Whether it’s getting their homework done, gathering their things together for school, keeping their room tidy or being able to find what they’re looking for, kids can be particularly bad at organisation.  Why can’t they just get on with it?


If we understand how their brains work, we can get a better understanding of why organisation may be more difficult for them than for us.  The bit of their brain responsible for this – the pre-frontal cortex- isn’t fully formed in children and that’s the bit that governs organisation, decision making and self-control.  Children just need a bit more direction and repetition than we might before they get the hang of things.

Here are a few strategies you can try to encourage your children to get organised.


  1. Model the behaviour. Get organised yourself! Let them see how you keep things organised, how you put things away where they should be, how you get ready the night before for the next day. Tell them how good it is that you know where to find everything and that you don’t have to worry in the morning about not being able to find something. Children copy our behaviour more than they listen to the words we say so don’t underestimate this one.  It might also be just the thing you need to add a bit more organisation into your life too!
  2. Make sure they’ve got what they need. If their room being untidy is the issue, do they have enough space to hang their clothes, enough drawers for their toys? Do they need to have a bit of a clear out and get rid of clothes that no longer fit, toys they no longer play with? If waking up on time is the problem, do they have an alarm clock? Another consideration is do they actually know what’s expected? When you tell them to tidy their room, do they actually know all the individual jobs this entails or would it help to have a checklist, or perhaps a photo of how it should look when they are finished? Often, it’s the small things that make a big difference.
  3. Let them come up with the best way to do it. When children feel they have been part of the decision making they are more likely to take action.  Ask them how they suggest solving the problem rather than nagging them to do what you propose.  State what you believe the issue to be, ask what they think and ask how they would suggest solving the problem.  Sometimes this can result in more creative problem solving and fixes that are easy to implement. In any case, it involves asking their opinion and including them in the process instead of simply telling them what to do.
  4. Praise the small steps in the right direction. Progress can be slow. Children often won’t make big changes straight away and we know that their priorities are very different to ours.  When we see any improvement in their behaviour – perhaps they have put their dirty laundry in the basket, or got their PE kit ready the night before – praise the effort they have made and tell them how much you appreciate what they have done. This positive attention will make it more likely that they will repeat the behaviour. It’s important to notice these positive steps rather than just the times they forget to do what’s required.

I hope you find these tips useful.  I’d love to hear how you get on implementing them.  If you would like help with any parenting issues you are facing, I offer a FREE 15-minute phone consultation and also run a parenting programme called ‘Parent Powers’.  See here for further information

You may also be interested in my FREE podcast “Kids! Who’d ‘ave ‘em?!” full of useful parenting related tips and advice.!-whod-have-em-!/id1084081491



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This post was written by Beth Parmar