Kids are easy.
Ok, not easy, but in decluttering they are the most fun and easy to work with!
Especially if you give them a reason to declutter, for example to benefit someone else.
Kids are very clear on what makes them happy.
Unless heavily influenced by parents, when left to their own devices they follow what draws them, discarding all else by the wayside.
They are incredibly compassionate.
They follow their instinct to alleviate other people's suffering without a second thought.
They're are also naturally curious.
Drawn to participate in activities around them, they want to be a part and to feel included.
To draw on this natural and unfiltered behaviors, here are some strategies you can implement to declutter with your kids:
1. Invite a family member or their good friend, adult or peer, to support them in the process.
Children feel their parents' investment in their stuff. They can see your attachment to their toys and drawings written all over your face. Feeling guilty and not wanting to hurt you, they hold on.
Over the years it's not the kids that I had to explain the benefits of letting go to, it's the parents.
Tip: Allow your kids to get rid of whatever they want to and then, if you want to keep something, keep it, taking full responsibility for making that choice. Don't engage in emotional blackmail by stirring up emotions that will make them doubt their choices: 'But you used to love that bear!" or "Oh, grandma made this just for you". Teach them to listen to their intuition instead and to trust their own inner guidance.
2. Tell them about situations where other children could benefit from their stuff.
Show them a video, take them to the hospital, tell them a story of someone they know.
Kids relate strongly to other children, so helping out a peer or a younger child instinctually feels good and satisfying. Help them direct that feeling by offering several options and letting them choose the one they resonate with the most.
Tip: Keep it going by having a box allocated to that cause, allowing your child continuously filter his or her belongings. And when they have a new cause in mind, let them make that decision, keeping the flame of compassion alive.
3. Make decluttering a whole family adventure.
It can be a game that you learn together. There can be competitions (who gets rid of most stuff), prizes (for least number of items on surfaces), choices of entertainment (for most days without stuff on the floor). When you do it as a family, kids will feel included by participating. And when there's a whole house routine, it becomes the new normal, instead of an outlier.
Tip: Have a round table about what you want for your family. Share your vision and inquire about theirs; write down your family values and frame them; ask each member what they need from others to succeed. Make decluttered and organized home a way to be in your family - you don't have to do it alone!
In my experience, children are truly the easiest to work with on decluttering. They are fun, engaged, involved, and excited. They do tire quicker than adults (60 minutes of focus, then take a break), but the results always blow away the parents and delight the kids.