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How Parents Can Help Their Children Get Organized and Learn to Be Productive

The first day of school is a universal time of change for all parents of school-age children. And though much has suddenly changed in our children’s lives, much has stayed the same in some: disorganized bedrooms, poor time management, lack of discipline, and stress. As parents, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of settling our children into the new school year and making sure they’re comfortable that we forget about the ongoing struggles our children endure the rest of the year.

According to John Stamm, Ph.D., and Bill Stockton (Psych Savvy: Children and Organizational Skills), “School failure and unhappiness in the school setting can be often traced to poor organizational skills.” Evidence shows that children having trouble “dramatically improved their school performance because of assistance in becoming better organized.” There are several important areas where you can help your children get organized and keep their home and school lives running smoothly, setting them up for success later in life:

1. Handling transitions

My boys Johnny and James are six and five years old, respectively. Since the time they were young, I’ve encouraged them to be self-sufficient and “help daddy” or “help mommy” get themselves dressed, wash themselves, put their dirty clothes in the hamper, and so on. Now that they’re able to put on their pajamas at night and brush their own teeth, I can get other things done while they’re busy, and then we can all spend more rest or play time together.

Transitions are the most difficult times of the day for them: from nighttime to morning time; from workday to evening; and from evening to bedtime. These transition periods are called “witching hours,” and they are fraught with stress and chaos. Every person, every household, has a witching hour (sometimes more). Even though transition times are only a small portion of the day, they can pack enough punch to spill over into the rest of it. However, with proper planning, you can flow through these high-stress periods more easily.

From workday to evening. We have affectionately dubbed ours “the 5:00 melt-down hour.” We’ve been working hard all day. The kids have been stimulated at school. When we pick them up, they have a million things to talk about. Dinner needs to be made and the table set. The kids start to fight. Meagan talks to me a mile-a-minute, as ten-year-old girls do. I can feel my blood pressure rising. Before long, I’m shorttempered and hungry. My ears are ringing from the sudden rise in decibels. “Will you kids just be quiet?” I shout, which makes things worse. Sensing my stress, James starts teasing Johnny, and Johnny begins whining, to which John responds by sending everyone to his or her room. What a great way for the night to begin!

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