Dear Family Coach: My child has terrible organizational skills, as do I. He has trouble keeping track of his work and belongings. Since I struggle as much as he does, how can I help him? — Messy Mom
Dear Messy: It is a challenge to assist children with issues that plague us as well. But there is help out there for both of you.
Being disorganized not only gets in the way of success in school but also parent-child relationships. Needless arguments and endless stress are caused by misplaced items or messy rooms. To avoid these issues and constant disarray in the house, try and create systems to address the most pressing areas. Start by identifying a specific location where you will put everything important, such as backpacks, lunchboxes, uniforms, sports equipment and other vital supplies. Homework should be returned to the backpack as soon as it is complete. Choose a consistent time to review school documents and check folders. It can be helpful to create a checklist for before bed and in the morning to ensure all important tasks get done.
If you find you are still not able to help your son, I recommend enlisting the assistance of an executive coach. These coaches are professionals trained in organization. It may seem frivolous, but a coach can be a vital intervention to affect lifelong change. And you might even learn something, too. That could benefit the whole family.
Dear Family Coach: Our kids have been asking for an allowance, but they're 7 and 9 years old, which seems sort of young. They don't know the value of money yet. When is the best time to start allowance, and should it be given for doing chores? — Not Sure Dad
Dear Dad: Your kids probably don't know the value of a dollar yet because they don't have any money with which to learn. That is the most important purpose of an allowance. Children learn an incredible amount of fiscal responsibility from having to make decisions with their own money. It's easy to spend Mom and Dad's dollars. It's a lot harder to decide to spend one's own money on Madden 17 or a One Direction T-shirt. Allow them to question about whether an item would be worth it. Give them space to figure out how much money would be left after purchasing an item and how long would they have to wait to amass enough money to buy something else. Let them start making those decisions now and have plenty of time to practice before venturing off to college, when the consequences of poor decision-making are much greater.
As for whether allowance should be tied to chores, I give that a firm no. Chores should be required of every member in the family. Community living means everyone contributes. Parents don't get paid for doing the chores, so children shouldn't either. And if kids have the choice of an allowance for chores or no chores and no money, some may choose no money. When that happens, you lose the help in the house and children lose out on learning lessons about saving and spending. That's a double whammy.
Create a list of age-appropriate chores for each child to do. Decide how much money to give each child as an allowance. Start off with a meager amount. Too much money minimizes lessons if the kids can just buy whatever they want.
Dr. Catherine Pearlman, the founder of The Family Coach, LLC, advises parents on all matters of child rearing. To write to Dr. Pearlman, send her an email at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Catherine Pearlman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.