It is a great question. When I asked for more clarification, I realized the parent was exhausted from packing her son’s school bag, hockey bag before each game or practice, and vacation bags.
Why is she exhausted?
Because her son is 14.
That is a lot of years for this mom to take full responsibility for her son’s stuff.
Does this sound extreme to you or are you in the same situation as this mom?
As I told this parent, there is no magic age when children can pack for themselves.
But… the sooner you help your children to manage their own stuff the easier it will be on you and the more your child will be learning responsibility.
Here are a few ideas about where to begin:
Pre-school to early elementary
- Have a snack drawer so your child can have easy access to learn how to pack his own snack.
- Have a set “go out” bag that your child knows is his to pack.
- Have a check list of the items needed in the school bag and show him how to check the list.
- For sports bags, have a laminated list attached to the bag to double check before leaving home.
Middle and High School
- Have the kids pack their school bags the night before and lay out clothes for the next day. This is much easier than the “mad dash” in the morning when items often get forgotten.
- Help your child with creating check list for packing items before a trip and camp – let them pack the items and simply check off the list.
As with all tools, it is a process for your children to learn how to take responsibility. Remember, you want your child to have “a tool, not you” to be successful. Gentle reminders such as “Check your list” or “How I can help?” are great ways to help without enabling your child.
Sooner or later your children will need to be responsible for their own items and lives. If they do not get a chance to practice taking responsibility and being accountable they will not magically have these skills when they move out of the house.
Start teaching the skills as soon as possible. You will be surprised at the pride and confidence your children will gain through being responsible and accountable for themselves.
But let each one test his own work,
and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.
For each will have to bear his own load.
By Megan Stone, M.Ed.
Wife to Rick, Mom of two
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Founder of Stone Foundations of Learning, Inc.
Author of Own Your Education! A Student’s Guide to Greater Success in School (And Life)
And for more about these organizational concepts from Megan, read Own Your Education: A Student’s Guide to Greater Success in School (and Life).