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education.com asks:
Q:

Do your kids 'hoard' or keep more stuff than they need?

"I'm raising hoarders," says Education.com's Kat Eden in her most recent blog post, "When Things Disappear in the Dark of Night." http://www.education.com/blog/kat_eden/2010/04/... .

She wonders how other parents handle this challenge with their own children:

"How do you keep your kids hoarding behavior in check?  How do you get them to part with the “treasures” they no longer need or use?  Or have you somehow embraced their hoarding in a way that works for all of you?"

Thanks for sharing your experiences and tips, by answering below or posting a comment on the blog post!
In Topics: My child's growth and development, Parenting / Our Family
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Dr.Susan
Apr 24, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

I hear this question from many parents! Hoarding and collecting are developmental for many kids. You may think your child no longer needs or uses the 'treasures' they are keeping, but actually they still are using them--emotionally. As kids pass through the different stages and aspects of childhood, it's painful for them to let go of previous ones. One of the ways they are able to move forward and grow up is to keep reminders of each prior stage (year in school, friendship, summer, moment in time) around them, so that the loss of that time doesn't feel so painful to  them. To adults, whose bodies and emotions have typically reached a fairly stable place (barring normal changes of aging) these items may seem trivial, but to your child, they are a stable reflection of the precious moments of their life as they change and grow so rapidly in a way that almost doesn't make sense to them.

For these reasons, it is important to respect your child's desire to collect items that are important to him or her. At the same time you can help keep your child's space from becoming overwhelmed by developing a system of packing away items that become less necessary as the distance of time makes them less relevant to your child--but NEVER throw or give anything away without permission. For some children outgrown clothing falls into this category too, it doesn't fit them anymore, but they don't want to part with it, because it is so strongly associated with important memories.

So make 'keeping boxes' and store them for your child. Your respect for their treasures is much more important than space--they will thank you for it in the future!
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Additional Answers (2)

dgraab
dgraab , Parent writes:
Great questions! This is something we too struggle with, both personally and in parenting our daughter. My grandmother and mother are both hoarders, and my father and brother are on the opposite extreme (minimalists who don't keep much at all). I'm trying to find a happy middle ground in which I can keep the truly sentimental items, while not going overboard and collecting/keeping too much. Easier said than done, but I realize I have to set the best example for our daughter, who (like Kat's sons) is also unfortunately already on the hoarder path.

One thing we recently tried that worked well when her closet and clothing bins were overflowing was to take all of the clothes out of her room and put them in the living room in piles. We then went through them in batches. In reviewing each and every pair of pants (having her try on each of them), we immediately eliminated anything that didn't fit or had holes/stains. We put everything that did still fit into piles: jeans, slacks (casual vs. dressy), tights. We allowed her to keep a certain # in each category, and helped her make difficult decisions (for instance, pointing out that she rarely wore those pants, or encouraging her to give to her low-income cousins in Indonesia one of the 5 identical pairs of jeans she had). Ultimately, within the quantitative limits, the decision of what stayed and what went was hers, and that helped tremendously in her being able to part with the items, vs. me sneaking in and discarding items on her behalf (which nearly always led to "what happened to X item?" and then tears). After the paring down of pants, we moved on to short-sleeve shirts, long-sleeve shirts, dresses, and shorts. We had 3 large bags for donation/discard after that session, and we were all happy with the results (especially her because her closet was then neatly organized and it was easier for her to get dressed for school). We also instituted a rule that if she got a new pair of pants (or shirt, etc.), she had to discard an old one (to avoid the huge project of the all-clothing clean-out).

After clothing, we also applied this methodology to the overflowing bins of stuffed animals (only a certain # could be kept in each category: stuffed dogs vs. cats vs. bears vs. jungle animals vs. snow animals, etc.). Next up: organizing and clearing out art projects and old school papers; and getting the dolls slimmed down as well.

I'm looking forward to reading what other parents are doing too. Thanks for asking!
> 60 days ago

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Daniel_Guillot
Daniel_Guil... , Parent writes:
Dr. Susan's answer above is right on target.  Your child should decide for themself when it is OK to let go of something.  Once I had problems turning off the TV at night.  My daughter would throw a fit when I turned the TV off, but would go to bed peacefully if I let her turn the TV off.  Consequently, we encourage and praise her for giving old toys, clothes, etc to smaller children after she has outgrown its use.  We also encourage outdoor activities that remove her focus from the items that she collects in her room.  The less time they spend looking at the items they collect, the easier it is to let go.
> 60 days ago

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