One of the most valuable life skills that anyone can have is the ability to be organised, productive, and systematic in how they structure their environments and respond to the challenges that confront them from day to day.
It’s often said that conscientiousness — the personality trait that encompasses things like orderliness, punctuality, and so on — is one of the most highly correlated of all personality traits with later life success. Deferred gratification — or the ability to put off rewards until later — is closely related, and also intimately tied to life success as a whole.
Since the habits we develop in childhood often stay with us throughout our lives, and as it’s harder to break and reform habits once we have the stress of work and taxes to deal with, instilling good organisational habits into your kids at an early age is a fantastic way of contributing towards their later productivity and fulfilment in life.
Here are a few ways you can encourage these positive habits.
Reward them for routinely organizing their own rooms
The tidiness of your child’s room may well be a matter of much contention and conflict within the home. A common dynamic is that the room is allowed to grow substantially messy, on a regular basis, until the parent orders the child to tidy it all up.
The child then resentfully — and maybe after severe tantrums — might tidy the room, but will certainly not have any desire to do it again.
On the other hand, parents will routinely tidy and organise their children’s rooms themselves, meaning that the child lives in a blissful state of never having to pay attention to orderliness, as things just automatically become orderly as if by magic.
The better way to approach this situation, is to encourage and incentivize your child to tidy up their room on a regular basis, never allowing it to become overly messy. One of the best ways of achieving this is by offering your child certain rewards for tidying up their room.
Try and do this on a particular schedule. Perhaps, have your child tidy the room once a week, or every evening. Offer them small rewards for succeeding — either bits of change, small food treats, points on a special points chart, and so on.
This entire process can be smoothed and streamlined by buying your kids storage units, which make the organisation and management of the room that much easier and more aesthetically satisfying.
Work with them to plan their own days, projects, and goals
On quite a fundamental level, children tend to want to be like adults. They’ll play dress up games where they are policemen, firefighters, doctors, cowboys, and so on. They’ll count up any allowance money they’ve received with glee, and feel important and professional when they put the change in their piggy bank.
You can play off this desire to act grown-up and professional, in order to help your child plan out their own days, projects, and goals — and to feel satisfied, positive, and content while doing so.
You can begin to do this by buying your child a stylish planner of sorts — something like a Moleskine notebook or Filofax that they like the look of — and then sitting down with them each day to help them plan out their checklists for the day, their slightly longer-term projects, and goals.
Of course, be patient with them and don’t take the exercise too seriously. Long-term goals are likely to include things like “I’ll be a super-astronaut with a dragon” — that’s just how kids are. Encouraging your child to think sequentially and to enjoy ordering their own life is, however, priceless.
Give them an allowance and oversee their money management
It would be impossible to argue convincingly that money doesn’t hold a special fascination for the vast majority of adults — and children are, by no means, any different in this regard.
At a very young age a child will come to understand that money is an important commodity in society that all the grownups want. They will realise that toys and treats cost money, and that successful people typically have their success measured, at least in part, by their wealth.
While you certainly don’t need to encourage your child to become an aspiring cutthroat tycoon, there are real benefits to giving them an allowance and helping them to practice good money management, from an early age.
One of the chief benefits here is the fact that you’ll encourage your child to develop the skills of deferred gratification and systematic thinking.