Use A Safety Deposit Box to Get Kids to Put Their Stuff Away

by ParentCo. November 17, 2015

Messes are a part of life with kids. Here is a simple and effective strategy for clearing the clutter and bringing order back into your life: the Safety Deposit box.

The Safety Deposit box is a large cardboard box or any other container that you place in a central location to hold all the “junk” that is left out after a designated and agreed upon time of day. This box which can be moved to a garage or basement will hold all the “junk” that was left out. The “junk” will remain in the safety deposit box until an agreed upon time when everyone is allowed to remove anything that belongs to them from the box.

Here's How It Works

Gather the kids together and let them know you are tired of nagging, reminding, and threatening them to pick up their stuff so you are not going to do it any longer. You have an idea for a solution you would like to run by them and if they agree it might work, you will try it for a week. Ask the kids what time of day you should ALL do a “cleaning blitz” and explain that at that time you will all have 5 minutes to pick anything of yours up and put it away or it will go into the Safety Deposit Box until Sunday at 10:00 am (or whenever you decide. ). Decide that you will use a creative way to let everyone know the blitz has started, like special music.

Anything left out after 5 minutes goes into the Safety Box.

You may want to wait until the kids go to bed before you grab everything they left behind and store it in the box. Depending on what’s left out you may have kids who could care less that some of their stuff is missing, you may have kids who are annoyed that a favorite toy is missing or you will have a child who is completely distraught that their shoes or backpack ended up in the safety deposit box, “wiithh myyyyy homewooooork thaaaat issss duuuee toooodaaaay!”. One missed homework assignment will not be the undoing of your child, but it could be a powerful reminder of the importance of picking up at the end of the day. This strategy is powerful in that no one is in trouble for leaving stuff out, it applies to everyone in the family, it is fair, you set things up from the beginning, you are consistent, there are no exceptions and the time limit is short.

Instituting new strategies takes courage and confidence.

Give it a try and give it time to work. Instituting new strategies takes courage and confidence. So muster them both up, dive in and watch the magic happen.

This is part of a series of our favorite advice, tips, and behavioral insights from Vicki Hoefle. For more useful parenting advice, visit VickiHofle.com and sign up for her newsletter.




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