“You can’t tidy if you’ve never learned how,” says Marie Kondo. In fact, that is how Marie launches into The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
I agree with Marie wholeheartedly. If you’ve followed my journey along, you know I live with ADHD. My attention tends to follow a starburst pattern. Not only is it difficult to find focus, it’s hard to sustain it. Organization, as a matter of course, has become the bedrock of my gift in my quest to love others. So… How does one become organized?
There are many paths, of course, but the KonMari Method is the one that resonates with me the most because it reveals the structure behind organization. It makes the mechanics of tidying plain so that anyone, even children as young as three years-old, can learn it.
Below are my top three reasons why kids should learn to tidy plus 10 accompanying teachable moments adults can highlight during the process.
1. Tidying Is a Life Skill
Children crave structure because it boosts their sense of independence and autonomy.
Remember when we were kids? We had to ask for permission for most things. We had to follow house rules. We had to live up to certain expectations for behavior and school. Childhood comes with its own burdens. We can help lighten the load for kids by teaching them how to tidy.
The act of tidying establishes kids’ control over their environment. The subsequent upkeep of their spaces boosts their sense of independence. By contrast, kids who don’t tidy spend time and energy struggling with a disorganized environment and carrying the invisible burden of sifting through items that no longer serve their lives today, which only makes the heavy aspects of being child heavier.
- Tidying shows kids appropriate ways to make independent choices about what they wear, read, play with, and even eat
- An organized environment is the springboard for successfully managing daily tasks and routines
- Kids who develop a tidying mindset and apply tidying skills consistently from a young age have the head and physical space to take on new challenges and responsibilities with confidence
2. Tidying Builds Self-Esteem
Ask a child to show you their favorite shirt or stuffie and they leap to the task. Children have an innate and unspoiled connection to joy.
When kids learn to tidy, they strengthen their connection to their true identity, unique definition of joy, and values. In addition, they see the point of taking care of their possessions when all they have left are the items they truly cherish.
(A word on restraint: It’s important to remain neutral during the discarding process and respect the child’s preferences without judgement; be mindful of your body language as well as your words.)
- Your sense of joy is unique to you, and it cannot be compared to others’
- Joy checking is a skill that helps you stay true to your values
- Joy can be enhanced by things, but doesn’t come from things
- We naturally want to take care of items that spark joy to extend their longevity
3. Tidying Expands their Perspective
Tidying involves the process of discarding. Some children might be reluctant to let go of their belongings at first. This is a natural reaction that stems from the fact that their personal belongings are the few things they can truly call their own at home.
Once the child has identified a few items that bring joy, ask them to pick out the ones whose spark are pale in comparison. You’ll see that it becomes easy for kids to let them go. Kids who tidy learn to let go of lukewarm items without guilt.
(As before, respect the child’s preferences, even if the item discarded was a gift or was expensive, for instance.)
- Items discarded with gratitude are free to delight another child/household
- Joy checking is a fundamental skill in shopping responsibly to avoid waste
- The discarding process fosters a healthy, empowering sense of detachment to things