I work with many families with young children which is a very interesting and rewarding experience for me. Interesting because the interaction between a parent and child when reviewing the items that the child owns is actually very revealing. I will pick up an item and ask the child when he/she last played with this or if he or she likes the item, dislikes the item and would like to let it go for donation. If the child tells me that it’s no longer one he/she wishes to keep, there are times when the parent jumps in to say things like “oh, but that was so expensive and you play with that all the time, you want to keep this don’t you? When the child responds to the negative and continues to express a desire to let it go, the parent may still be persistent in wanting to keep the item. As a result, I generally have a chat with the parent before the editing part of the process to request that their child be allowed to make the decision and that that decision be respected rather than questioned. This helps the child to not only learn to express and understand what things are important to him or her and to distinguish treasured items from non treasured items, but also teaches the child responsibility, respect and how to be charitable. I always encourage families to include the child in the actual trip to the donation centre in order to live the full experience of donating to others. Children really do get this and how it will positively impact the life of another child.
The revealing part of the process is the parents reaction to the generousity of the child. Often it is evident that it is the adult that has difficultly letting go of items. This reluctance to let go and often the need for abundance can stem from previous learned behaviors or psychological reasons. which may ultimately be passed along to the child if not careful. dThe client is often surprises by their own reaction to the editing process with children.
Teaching children how much stuff is too much stuff may be a difficult task. However, as I was organizing the bedroom of a young 8 year old boy I was startled to come across a book he had in his room authored by the great Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko entitled “Too Much Stuff”.
The book is about a young girl named Temina who is going on her first airplane trip and is determined to bring ALL her toys regardless of what her mother says. The ending is wonderful and the book is a great teaching tool for all parents in helping their children to let go of things. I urge you to check out this book and let me know what you think about it. I’d love to hear from you.