Taking Care of Her Belongings
Your daughter's belongings and her room matter greatly to her, so encourage her to take good care of them. Teach her how to hang up her clothes, store her shoes and purses, organize her dresser drawers so she can quickly locate what she needs, and designate a place for her toys, games, books, and keepsakes. Show your daughter how you stay organized and pass on your tips.
Make Organizing Fun
Many girls want to keep everything, from the tests they made a 100 on to the ticket stub of a movie they loved, to a snapshot of themselves and their BFFs. Teaching your daughter how to sort through the piles of papers, programs, and pictures on her desk will help her to toss some and treasure others.
Scrapbook-making kits for kids are available in many stores, and many of them are suitable for kindergarten age and up. They contain everything your girl needs for this useful process. The numerous stencils, stickers, and design ideas in the kits can be a starting point she learns to manage the avalanche of papers and pictures in her life. Also show her how to text you a picture she took and how to burn a CD of her favorite photos.
The easiest filing system to buy is some attractive boxes in which your daughter can place items she wants to keep. She can trim the boxes, embellish them with markers, and decoupage them. There she can also keep swatches of her favorite but out-grown pajamas or T-shirts, newspaper clippings and cartoons that interest her, and postcards from her globe-trotting aunts.
Another way to get your daughter interested in looking after her stuff is to let her fix up her room. She can scout through magazines for hot ideas, and then roll up her sleeves and get started. She may settle on just changing the paper to line her dresser drawers, or she may ask for new sheets and a new bedspread. Or she may go “crazy” and paint her bedroom furniture, if the pieces are worn but not antiques. She may redo one wall or apply a border, or with your help, paint a favorite motif all over the room.
What fun for both of you to visit a home-improvement or department store, stroll up and down the aisles to see what she likes, and steer her toward what makes sense in terms of suitability and price. Even if you do not like the ruffles and valances she opts for, appreciate the fact that she is experimenting with her decorating flair. How can she learn to look after her room and belongings if she is not allowed to feel ownership of them? That may include making a mistake now and then but so what?
Mine by Design
One disadvantage of letting your daughter have complete freedom in redoing her space is that it may turn out to be all the pinks and purples, floral, and heart designs she is so crazy about. Or worse — she may crave animal prints to plaster her room with or hang collages of “teen hunks” torn from magazines from her ceiling. Or she will go for subdued light and posters of skulls and bones. Oh well, as long as her “style” is not too offensive, let her express herself. It is her room, so withhold any comments unless she asks for them.
If a preteen girl goes radically “super-Goth,” meaning that she develops a fondness for images of torture and death, check on what sites she has been surfing on the web or with whom she has been e-mailing, texting, or messaging. While there is a vast harmless Goth subculture, any time a very young girl is into nothing but “dark” images, you need to investigate what's really going on.
You can also help her with installing the new shelves or show her how to make her own picture frames. Every few months help her sort through her clothes and toss what she has outgrown. If she tends to misplace things, teach her to label certain segments in her closet, or sections of drawers or shelves, and then put her items where they belong.
Once a week, schedule a clutter-freeing night when you and she wade through everything that has accumulated in the nooks and crannies of your home. Combine it with thirty minutes of speed-cleaning, then go out for pizza — all of you — and enjoy staying on top of your housework.