Teaching our children self-control is one of the most important components of raising them to become independent . It is important to teach self-control in all areas, including the area of “stuff.” We especially set the example as the Mom. We show our boys how we value things by what we collect and how we care for it. Do we hang on to things of no value? Do we live with clutter? 

Here are some ways you can help teach your boys to control the clutter that comes in:

  • Have your son go through his stuff on a regular basis — at least pick through it every few months.

  • Set limits (i.e., my kids have trinket boxes and can keep no more than 20 items—same for stuffed animals, but they only get to keep five because other toys hold higher value in our house).

  • Start them young — I have been doing this with my kids since they were about 2 years old, making them go through their things with the intention of getting rid of some of them.

  • Don’t let them get distracted: stay close by and get them on to the next thing. It’s easy for them to start playing with the stuff they forgot they had.

  • If they choose to get rid of something, don’t discourage them, even if you think it’s valuable or if it’s something that surprises you.  It’s their stuff, and if they want to give it away (perhaps you can make a family heirloom exception)—for goodness’ sake, let them!

  • One in, one out! If they have a big birthday party with 20 gifts, then make them give away 20 toys of similar size! Or, have smaller parties.

  • I have one kid who gets very sentimental and attached to so much. But we’re working on realizing that when you have 30 very important things, you only get to keep five that are the most important and the rest get tossed or donated.

  • Schedule for a charity truck to pick up the kids’ stuff a few days after you plan on going through it.

  • Label, label, label—if they can’t read, make labels with pictures of what is inside their toy storage. This will teach them to read the word and know what it’s inside—no excuses!  I take pictures of the contents, then print on paper and cover with clear tape.

It’s not hard. Set a good example. Go through your own things and really get rid of the stuff you just don’t need. You’re not sure how to do that? Go here to get some help. Don’t know where to start? Head here to get some help with that, too. I have a full resource of help on my blog.

Do your kids struggle with self control in this area of clutter and stuff?
f so, what steps are you going to take today to help them?