Behaviorally Speaking

Let’s Get Organized! A Lesson in Executive Functioning

December 02, 2020 Season 1 Episode 9
Behaviorally Speaking
Let’s Get Organized! A Lesson in Executive Functioning
Show Notes Transcript

Angela Nelson, MS, BCBA, and Kristin Bandi, MA, BCBA, are Board Certified Behavior Analysts with Rethink Benefits. They spend their days working with parents and caregivers of children with learning, social or behavioral challenges, or developmental disabilities. In this episode, Angela and Kristin focus on organization, one of the executive functioning skills we often learn as children.

Their clinically backed tips and tricks will provide insights into helping you assist your child with tasks like being able to clean up after playtime, starting and finishing homework and completing other to-do tasks and lists.

This podcast is brought to you by Rethink Benefits. If you need support as a parent or caregiver of a child, we encourage you to visit rethinkbenefits.com to learn more about the program. Not sure if you have access to Rethink? Ask your Human Resources team if the program is part of your employer-provided benefits. Rethink reaches millions of lives globally through partnerships with top organizations and Fortune 1,000 companies.


Reed Dunn:

Welcome to episode nine of Behaviorally Speaking, a podcast featuring Board Certified Behavior Analysts Angela Nelson and Kristin Bandi. On this episode, Angela and Kristin share helpful information on getting organized, one of the key lessons from executive functioning. Their experience and practical advice will lead you through examples like completing homework from start to finish and maintaining systems for tracking important items, including calendars and checklists. Behaviorally Speaking is brought to you by Rethink Benefits, an employer provided resource to support parents and caregivers of children with learning, social and behavioral challenges. Learn more at www.rethinkbenefits.com. And now, here are your hosts, Angela Nelson, and Kristin Bandi.

Angela Nelson:

Hello, and welcome back for our ninth episode of Behaviorally Speaking. Already nine episodes, I can't believe it! I'm one of your hosts, Angela Nelson. I'm a BCBA, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and mother of two.

Kristin Bandi:

And I'm Kristin Bandi, also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and mother of two. Hey there, Angie.

Angela Nelson:

Hey, how's it going?

Kristin Bandi:

Oh, it's going pretty good. How about you?

Angela Nelson:

It's going okay. I think since we last did our podcast, big news, my kids are somewhat back in school! They are on remote, no, hybrid, as they call it. So every day,

they go from 12:

30 in the afternoon to 3:00 and then they do all their asynchronous work that I have to try to somehow oversee and work at the same time. So it's going okay. You know, different struggles. Now we have to pick them up again and drop them off and do all that stuff. But at least they're in the classroom. They're actually seeing people-- masks and social distancing, but it's pretty good.

Kristin Bandi:

That's good. I guess I got a little lucky. My son goes to preschool as you know, and as you all know, but funny story on that before we dive in today. So, a few episodes ago, I was talking about how Parker sneezed in his masks. So, funny story. Last week, he had really bad allergies. Our weather has been up and down here. I got a call from the school that said, "Hey, so Parker sneezed through all of his masks. Is there any way you can just come get him?" So, I got him and he's just like, I just, I can't get I can't get the mask off fast enough. So I thought, "here we go again!" So, I'm just waiting for allergy season to be over and then we can move on. But yeah, it's the the environment we're in right now, I guess.

Angela Nelson:

You know, it's interesting, though. You would want them to keep their mask on so you can contain the sneeze and all the the stuff. I mean, for adults, I can hold in a sneeze if I need to, but kids can't do that. You don't want to teach them to do that, so that's a tough one. Like, what do you do with your sneeze? You know?

Kristin Bandi:

Well, I was saying the same thing to my husband. If I had a mask on and I knew a sneeze was coming, I can remove the mask real quick and then put a tissue or my elbow. For him, he's four so he's just like, "I'm sneezing. I've sneezed." There's no warning for them. So yeah, it's been quite interesting. I have around 15 masks in his backpack. So good organization today. Right? So, nice segue into our topic today. So, I'm really excited about our next two episodes, actually. So we are going to be talking about some really important skills that relate to executive function. For those of you who don't know what executive function is, I won't get too technical, but I will give you a little bit about it.It's a set of mental skills that include working memory, flexible thinking and self control. We use these skills all the time. We use them to learn, work and manage our lives. I did a deep dive last month, which is why we didn't have a podcast on this exact topic. So, if you're a Rethink participant and you want to listen to the webinar that I hosted on this topic, you can certainly check that out. We broke down those skills, and then we gave some strategies to teach those skills to your child. So that's live on the site if you want to check that out. So, for this episode though, we are going to be talking specifically about organization. By definition, it means it's the ability to establish and maintain systems for arranging or keeping track of those really important items. So if you think about it, organization is really important. Most things start with organization. If you are planning, let's say, a holiday dinner party, you might need to organize yourself. What am I making? What is my grocery list? We organize ourselves all the time with things like that. If there's a big project you have for for work, you're going to organize yourself. How am I going to get this done? So for our kids, things like being able to find their belongings, locating their backpack, their phone. Really important. Can they put their things away? Can they clean up their toys? For our middle schoolers and high schoolers-- are they doing their homework from start to finish? Are they doing it and also turning it in, which is a big one, and then of course, are they able to use checklists and calendars and to do lists to really get things done? A lot of these skills come naturally to us by now, I will say maybe some more than others, like Angie, the executive functioning queen, because she keeps us on track. But for our kids, we really have to teach them those skills. It's not just going to come naturally. We have to make sure that we're teaching them all of the skills for organization. That is what we're going to be talking about today. Last but not least, if your child has a hard time staying focused or completing those tasks, stay tuned for our next episode. Next month, we're going to be diving a little deeper into that. We're going to be talking about staying on task and paying attention. Two great episodes

Angela Nelson:

So important. I think, probably some of the most coming up. talked about topics that we hear from parents, especially right now during the COVID time, but really, all the time, right? These are just kind of evergreen topics, essentially. And Kristin and I kind of nerd out on these topics, because I don't know, it's just I love talking about it. I think you're a resident executive function or executive functioning, whichever you prefer, kind of Guru, right? You host our webinar, you really did a deep dive into that topic. You're my go to person for for all things executive function. Let's start diving into it. What we have for you today-- we've got our groups of age ranges. So, we've got our preschool or elementary, we've got our middle school, we've got our high schoolers, and we've got tips for supervising and maintaining, so we're gonna dive into that. I think one of the things that's important, and Kristin, you and I talked about this last time we spoke, is there are really two main points when you need to get your kid organized. One of them is to put a system in place and the other one is to supervise that system. Right? Sometimes that second one falls off or just gets missed somehow. I think we talked to parents a lot of times where they'll say, "Yeah, well, I did the folders. And we have little trays for different things, but it's not working". Sometimes we miss some of those important steps in there. We can't just give a checklist and then walk away, right? You can create some great systems, but you have to teach your kids to use them, and you have to supervise and monitor it. So, there's a sneak peek at what we're going to talk about. I will say a lot of what we have for you today came from one of our favorite books, which is called "Smart But Scattered," so we have to give kudos and credit to Dr Guare and Dr. Dawson because we love them. We don't know them. I want to know them. They are amazing. And the best thing about those books too, because there are "Smart But Scattered," "Smart But Scattered For Teens," is that you don't actually have to read it cover to cover. You can just read the little segments that pertain to the executive function topic that is peeking your interest or is a need for you and your family. So anyways, shout out to Dr. Guare and Dawson. You don't know us, but we love you. And we're big fans.

Kristin Bandi:

Yeah, exactly. And they have an adult one too. So if you're listening to this and you're thinking "I might need to do a deep dive into my own executive function," they have a couple of new books now. So they definitely were really in the know in this topic. So before we dive into the examples or really getting into preschool and elementary school, earlier, I was thinking of a really great example for you saying, you know, you can't just give a checklist and walk away. I was thinking, well, this is similar to if someone gave you a model airplane, they gave you no instructions, and they said here, build it. It made me think of a story. A couple Christmases ago, someone had suggested a toy for us to get our son who was two at the time. It's a little airplane, it's so cute. It has a little screwdriver with it, or a drill, I guess it's called a drill. It has a drill to go with it. Anyhow, it comes built, and it comes with instructions on how to disassemble it and put it back together. One day, my son took it apart and completely lost the instructions. I have no idea where they went, we have never found them. We have had this airplane now in 15 different pieces, and we've never put it back together in two years. We still have all the pieces, but we haven't put it together. It's a perfect example that if you just give your kid a checklist and you say here, here's your checklist, just go do it but you don't teach them how to implement the checklist. If you're not supervising, it's probably not going to get done. I just thought that was a really good example.

Angela Nelson:

Mm hmm. No, that's perfect. I'm one of those parents that throw away that all of those pieces. You haven't played with it and we don't have the instructions. It's going in the trash secretly.

Kristin Bandi:

Well, if my husband had his way, it would definitely have been trashed by now. No! We're going to play with that again.Those instructions will turn up. Sometime they are they're going to turn up. So, let's dive into our content for today. First, we're going to start out with preschool and elementary school. So, what does organization look like for that age group? For kids of that age, we're looking for things like can they hang up their coats or their backpack when they come home from school? Can they put their shoes away? Where do those belong? Can they put their toys away in the proper spot? So they know my balls go here, my cars go here. Can they clean those things up? Of course, can they clean up their plate after eating? And then as our kids get a little bit older, are they able to keep track of their homework? So you've completed it? Did you bring it back to school? Did you bring that worksheet home. So things like that, we're looking for with this age group with organization. So some systems that you can use, or you can put in place to really foster these skills. First and foremost, probably one of my favorites, and I'm pretty sure it's one of yours, Angie, is labeling things. Let's label the bins, label the drawers, either with words or pictures, but letting kids know, this is where these things go. One of my favorites, I talked about it on the webinar last month, but one of my favorites is to say, "Let's take a picture of that clean room. What does your clean room look like? Here's your picture of it." Now, when you tell your child, "let's go clean your room," we're giving them a picture of that clean room. You're giving them an example right there. You can use that and say, "this is how you clean your room."

Angela Nelson:

I used that the other day actually with a family and it just makes sense. It's like you tell a three year old or four year old go clean your room, what does that mean? Then you walk in and I don't know about you, but if I've ever walked into something that's really overwhelming,I don't even know where to start, and I might just lay down. So along with that, I think when we're thinking about our younger ones, we think "Okay, they're probably not going to want to just clean up all the time. I mean, some kids, they do, but for the most part, a lot of kids, you have to kind of nudge them to clean things up." So having a designated cleanup time can be really, really helpful. And of course, maybe placing it strategically in the evening, where they're going to have something that's really motivating after. So clean up the playroom, you can have your TV time. That's what we do. Then, writing out a checklist or routine using pictures if you need to. So we talked about it earlier, similar to what we just mentioned, you can't just give a checklist to clean your room, but maybe writing out that checklist and saying, okay, here are the steps that are involved in cleaning that room and then of course, we'll talk about it next but supervising your child, when you say go clean your room. Let's go through that checklist together. One of my favorites, I can't remember where I read this, probably in Smart But Scattered honestly, but establish a home base for your things. Where is a central location where you can put your backpack. Maybe you pack your lunch the night before, if it's nothing perishable. You could put it there for the next day, or your homework always goes there. If you have a gym bag or whatever it might be, but we're keeping everything in one central location.So then for the next day, for school, you're all set. You've got everything there. Your child knows where they can find all of those belongings. I know another adult in my family that needs this! One who loses cell phones and keys and always asks me. I'm like, I don't know, get home base, I have a home base.

Kristin Bandi:

You know what's really funny about that? This is going way back, but I had a supervisor at one point. She was saying her husband just lost his keys all the time. So they make a little late key fob, like a little clicker that you can put on the back of your keys or the back in your cell phone or your wallet. She bought those for her husband for Christmas. She was like, "you're not losing these things anymore. I can click this button and we can find your wallet."

Angela Nelson:

You can save money and not need those that have a good organizational system.

Kristin Bandi:

Exactly the little man box by the door, perfect. Alright, so now we talked a little bit about some systems that we can use. As we mentioned earlier, and we'll talk about this through all age groups, but it's really, really important to make sure you're supervising and maintaining those skills. One example I like to give is we give our kids organizational structures, for instance a dresser, we might give them those bins, we give them ways to organize themselves, but that doesn't mean that they're going to do it. We have to show them how to be organized. For example, your pants go in this drawer or your shirts go in this drawer or your books go on this shelf. We can show them how they can keep themselves organized. It's the same thing with cleaning the room. I mentioned it earlier. So okay, clean your room. Let's go through it. What is the clean room look like? How can we do that? How do we use this checklist?

Angela Nelson:

It almost sounds like what you're saying is don't take these things for granted. Don't make assumptions that your kids just know how to do these things. We have to think about them from like a developmental standpoint. Clean your room or go put these things away; they just may not know or they're they're not doing it the same way you would. So yeah, you have to model it.

Kristin Bandi:

Right. Yes, exactly. :Last but not least, I think with our little ones, and actually probably with all age groups, we might need to add in some motivation. So adding in some sort of reward, maybe a token board for little ones, we call it a sticker chart, or some sort of point system, where maybe they're earning points or stickers for cleaning their room or putting away their laundry that day. Then of course, we can fade that over time as they become more independent.

Angela Nelson:

Mm hmm. Absolutely. Yeah, that's something that we've used for a long time. I've never seen my kids move so fast. If I tell them that they can watch their show, right after they clean, they will definitely get in gear.

Kristin Bandi:

Yes. Yep. Absolutely.

Angela Nelson:

Cool. Awesome. When we were prepping for this, there are some themes that are kind of woven through all of the age ranges. You'll see that going forward, there are going to be some some repeat. Some of those really, really important ones, but some that are unique to the specific age group. We're going to get into middle school now. Whoo hoo. Whereas before, Kristin focused a lot more on toys and home type things, now we're going to talk about school organization a little bit more. It's a good idea to start again, just like Kristin did, start with how organized is your child? Right? So maybe your child is this age. Can they put back things like their sports equipment? Where's my baseball mitt? I can't find the pump for my basketball. Where's this? Where's that? Mom? Dad? Right? So can they put back their equipment and know where to go? Do they have specific locations for the things that they have? Whether it's sports equipment is in a specific tub in the garage or different places for things in their room, can they keep track of assignment? You talked about this a little bit, Kristin. This comes into play even more. I can't say how many times I've talked with parents where they say, okay, we did the homework, but then the actual last step of the execution of actually getting to school and turning it in, we don't know where it goes. It just disappears! Or, there's a locker and you probably remember with my locker and backpack. And then you see lockers were there, they closed the door. And there's peaking out of the corners, an avalanche. There are a whole whole bunch of different types of systems out there. So can they keep track of those assignments? Can they keep their study area tidy? Do they have a workstation. We talk a lot about workstations, especially this year, because of COVID people needing workstations at home. So does your child have a nice area boards tidy, where they know where things are? And last but not least, are they able to to locate their belongings? Are they not able to lose them? So, so important because that does impact us as the parents, right? We're oftentimes being summoned to be the item locators as well.

Kristin Bandi:

Yeah, exactly.

Angela Nelson:

So let's get into some of the tips for our systems here for middle school. Having color coded folders and bins for schoolwork. I just spoke with a family earlier today, and we were talking about this very topic. So sit down and think about it with them. Have colors for things like your enrichment work is done, okay, this needs to be uploaded into your online management tool, or maybe you just need to keep it for the week and maybe there's some sort of turn in system. Maybe one color is for enrichment work that's completed. Another color or another folder,or in offices, you have those little kind of hard plastic stackers, you can get one of those little stackers. One shelf is for things to be completed. So for my younger child, Rosie, we get something on Monday, it comes home, and it's the packet to do for the whole week. My kids are just lovers of art projects and things, and we always have papers and all sorts of things, so we have to make sure that we don't lose that really important packet, so that goes in a specific place. Then you have to separate it and put the completed ones in another space. For us, we we happen to just stick it back in her folder in the backpack. You're supposed to just turn it in on Friday. This is what I did with Lily, too. I just stuck it in there. As soon as we were done, just stuck it back in the backpack. So it was separated out from everything else, and at least we knew it was already in there. We didn't have to get ready. So, have a place for certain things. So the completed, the to be completed, reports, nightly assignments, graded work that sent home, that's another one too, having a different section for that. Don't underestimate the power of color coding. It's just with your brain, the way it works. It just helps you to segment things out and have everything all in one spot. So it's easily found. You mentioned this top, so important. If you're coming home, and I see this sometimes with my kids too, they'll come home. Sometimes they'll make it further in the house, and they'll just drop their backpack somewhere. Sometimes it's where they're supposed to put it, sometimes someone gets distracted with Tristan the hamster and then the papers just get set down next to the hamster cage. We want to try to avoid that, right? That's how things get easily misplaced. So have a single spot for everything so you can find it. Have your visual reminders, like a sign on the door when you're coming in home from school or those checklists again, but you have to show them how to do it, to do things like chores, right? So did you do all your chores for the week? Did you remember to do these things in order to get your allowance? So if you have a checklist, you have something that's objective that they can look at and reference, it will be helpful. Things like unpacking your backpack, so what needs to be unpacked there, putting away your lunch, just different steps. This is good for promoting independence too, so having these visuals. I have something funny to share that I just thought of. Of course my kid is so small, so he doesn't unpack his own backpack yet, although I think he should start because of this. So, his school, they'll send home food that he didn't finish eating. I didn't know that. I just assumed that they didn't. Well they put some, I cut up some, he loves bell peppers. So I cut up bell peppers and I had them in a bag. I don't know what it is about them. They're like super healthy. So I had some bell peppers in there, and he's been going to school there for a couple months, so no food ever came home so I just thought okay, no foods coming home. Well, in a different part of his backpack, acutally where we keep his mask, there was a baggie of really old bell pepper. I was like, oh, these are so mushy. Okay, it was so bad! Of course, the whole front of the backpack smelled like peppers. So I had to clean it, but I was thinking, it's really important for middle schoolers to unpack their their lunch box . You know, you can't leave that in there for maybe a couple of days. That's such a good point, though, too. Make that part of the routine. So unpacking, you don't know what sort of things are lurking at the bottom of the backpack! One other tip here, this came from you, actually, Kristin, is having a backpack luggage tag. So have items on there. Maybe whether they... you could get creative. They can, you know, check it off each day or just have it on there. So it's a reminder of what goes to school, so they quickly look on the luggage tag. It could be one of those things that you slide in and it has their name on it can be pretty covert, so no one else sees it. What goes to school is quick reminders, bullet points. What comes home from school. So, so important. I'm sure there are a lot of parents that are nodding right now. Oh, yes, I came home without such and such. I mean, that's hard. I remember my parents having to drive me back to school sometimes because I forgot something. They were not happy. I used to always have bad dreams about the sort of things.

Kristin Bandi:

That does not at all surprised me about you. Your nightmares are like, I didn't show up on time for my presentation. I actually have those too. I have dreams like my internet went out or something like that right before I was going to start something. I'm sure kids have those too. The backpack luggage tags, so that's on understood.org and they actually have samples on there, so you can just print them out. They already have them made, which is really nice. Yeah, visit that site and you can find those.

Angela Nelson:

Yeah, that's another really amazing site that we love. A couple things here before we segue back to you-- tips for supervising and maintaining. So again, step two, in that process, you've got some great tips, but you do need to supervise, model/show how to implement, and work on maintenance of those things so that they don't just fall off and disappear.There are a couple of things you could do. Here's

one idea for a middle school:

put together a point system for things to make it back to and from school. For example, you get two points for bringing your backpack home, two points for bringing your math book, two points for bringing your organizer your agenda book. I know a lot of middle schools do that, so having some sort of system, do it with your kids too, I think that's important. You need to get their buy in. We'll talk a bit more about that in a minute. Get them involved in some sort of system, where there's some positive reinforcement, there's some sort of kind of contingency with motivation rolled in there, so that there's a little bit more of an incentive to remember. These things are, as you know, from previous podcasts, meant to be temporary, and then faded out over time. We might need to put a little extra programming in place for a while to get your kids to remember those things if there's a tight reinforcer. Last couple of things-- use age appropriate expectations. Explain what you are expecting for them to adhere to. That's important. We know we work with some families that have children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, so we do need to look at the whole picture.We need to look at their ability levels, we need to look at how they are acting at home and what you've seen them be able to do and their behavior in other organizational settings. If you know that they're capable of doing these things, push them a little bit, tell them what you expect. Be reasonable. Obviously, we're not going to be expecting a three year old to be able to remember all of these things automatically to and from school. One big one, model. This is something that we hear a lot from families-- "Oh, yeah, I'm not, I'm not organized either." It is important! If you don't have a lot of organizational systems that you're using at home and you have scattered things just kind of everywhere, it might be a little bit harder for your child to pick up good, healthy habits. It is important if you're trying to instill some of these good habits for your child to try as best you can to implement them for yourself as well and model that appropriate behavior, which kind of goes for really everything that we teach. It really goes back to our very first episode where we talked about consistency. Be consistent with your expectation. If you're organized with your expectations for your child, then they know this is always required. If you're wanting to require a child to let's say, unpack their backpack, let's have them do it every day, or at least every other day so they know mom's not going to do this for me. I have to unpack my backpack, or I have to clean this up in my room or, or those things. I think just being consistent with that can be really helpful.

Kristin Bandi:

All right, let's move on to our teenagers and our young adults. This is where we start to move into things like preparing for adulthood. So, learning how to plan and prioritize. A lot of what we see with our teens is going to be what we probably do as adults. When we move into the teenage years, we have to learn how to be more responsible. So really, what you could do first is assess again, how organized is your team? Can they keep track of their notebooks, their backpack? Do they keep those things organized? That's always really important. Are they putting things away when they're finished with them? It's really similar to the things we're seeing in middle school as well. Are they keeping the areas clean? When our kids get a little bit older, they have more responsibilities. So not only can they keep track of those important belongings, but do they keep track of their schedule? hat's where things get a little more tricky for teenagers. We don't always have mom and dad or your caregiver to say, 'Hey, you've got to get to soccer practice." Can they keep track of that? Those important events, those practices, meetings with the teachers, deadlines for maybe applying for college, those really big things that teens have to do? So, for our tips for our systems, really, for teenagers, it's going to be much of everything that we've just talked about. All of those strategies that we mentioned before, yes, those are going to be applicable to teens. As I mentioned, for teenagers, we have an added layer of challenge here. Can they manage their schedule or their calendar. Thinking of some tips or strategies for that for your teenager. They could use their phone, they could use their apps, but is there some way that they can write down I have practice on this day, this is when I have games, here's when I have a report due or a test. Here's a big event. Angie, you and I were talking about this, but a lot of times and maybe we do this as adults, too, we want to rely on our brain. We're like, "no, no. I'll remember all of that. It's all up there somewhere!" But,distractions happen, and especially for a teenager, there are a lot of moving parts, social interactions, tons of distractions for a teenager. So he or she just simply cannot rely on their brain. They might think they can, but we need to give them some systems and so that they can have something to fall back on if in fact they do get distracted.

Angela Nelson:

It's actually brings up a good point, too. We need to help instill these good practices now, because it's much harder when you're an adult and you're working, let's say, to start developing organizational systems, right? It's these sorts of things are much more effective and successful when you can start younger. I will say, I have had so many calls over the last month or so with families who, because of COVID, kids have had to learn how to manage a Google calendar or some other form of calendar on their computer or on their apps. They've had to learn how to manage this all on their own, and a lot of times I'm talking with families and saying, well, it's given to them, but we have to help them through that. We have to help them manage it. Can we cross check the assignments in their portal, whatever that portal might be for their homework? Did they put it into their calendar? Things like that. Another little tip within that tip for that family in particular, I said let's do this. He wanted to be super independent,16, he was like, I want to do this on my own. So we said okay, let's do this. How about you, for tomorrow and the next day, transfer over your work that you need to do from your school portal into your calendar, and let's check for accuracy. Let's see if you get 8 out of 10. This is your reward if you get 9 out of 10 this is your reward. Let's see how many assignments you can transfer over onto your calendar yourself. They get really excited about that. I haven't followed back up with them yet, but I'm imagining that their teen will probably be excited about that too, because he's then getting the independence that he's looking for. That's kind of like a supported way to teach that skill. You're motivated, you're going through this practice so that you can start doing it on your own.

Kristin Bandi:

Right, exactly. And then last, but not least, of course, what we've talked about with all ages is continuing with those visual reminders. I think a lot of people might think, "Oh, , he's kind of outgrown that or she's outgrown that." But I use visual reminders all the time, and I'm looking at it to do list right now. I know you do too, Angie.

Angela Nelson:

Oh, yeah. My dry erase board. Yeah, I always have a giant dry erase board. That's right. Our projects.

Kristin Bandi:

Every time I'm on a work call with Angie, I'll just see she'll be looking up to the right and I know she is looking at her dry erase board right now. I can see it.

Angela Nelson:

I can't forget! I don't want to forget anything.

Kristin Bandi:

Right. I think we have to instill that into our teens. You don't want to forget these things. They are important. So,make sure that you have a way that you can still give yourself these visual reminders for your routine or some sort of structure to make sure that you're getting all of these things done. And then moving into some tips for supervising. Here's where things get tricky. I'm sure everybody, teens sitting there thinking, yeah, this is where it gets tricky. I have had, and you probably have too, Angie, so many calls over the last month, two months, that have said,"Look, my teen still needs support, but they don't want it. They don't want any support from me. So when I go in and I try, it's just a struggle. It's a fight. I think really starting here is let's talk with your teen about it. Let's get their buy in. Let's say, "all right, you don't want me to be giving you these reminders all the time. Maybe you don't want me to say did you get your keys? Did you get your cell phone? Do you have your backpack?" Your teen may have expressed to you "I don't want you to say that to me anymore." You could say something like, "Okay, how about I remind you every other day, then let's give you some some ability to do it on your own. Show me that you can do it and I can I can stop with those reminders. But if I have to keep driving your backpack to school, then I'm going to have to keep giving you reminders." So we think putting it on them a little bit for teens can be really helpful.

Angela Nelson:

Yeah, I actually like that strategy of not doing it all the time, too, because it's kind of a natural consequence. You have to give them opportunities to, to do it on their own. If they forget their backpack, you know, well, they might be without a book for first period, you know, and if you're nice enough to drive it over, you know? Yeah, exactly. The last one is really just coming up with that collaborative approach. I think that it goes with that first one. I've had so many families say to me, and in fact, it's in the Smart But Scattered Teens book, that the teens in general, are like "stop nagging me!" It's the term that they like to use, and they feel nagged by parents, even though as parents, we're saying, "no, actually, we're just supporting you." I think coming up with a way that they feel like, "Okay, this is how I can be successful with organizing, or this is how my routine is going to work and then you as the parent could say, "what did you come up with? How can I support you?"

Kristin Bandi:

Really important. Another one, you you can't pressure them. I think that this one comes up a lot too, during my consultations, but a teen.... their their characteristics and how they are, that's kind of built in. Let's say you have a child who's particularly messy, but they get in all of their assignments, their room just might be kind of messy, but they know where everything is, then that's okay, let's let that be. This is also in the in the Smart But Scattered book, but you have to respect their privacy as teens. And I think if you could do that, and you could say, hey, look, I respect your privacy. As long as you're taking care of the space, you're not like drawing on the walls or anything, then I'm going to let you have that freedom. And as long as you are still getting your homework turned in, you're getting your assignments done. So there's not food all over the floor. We'll let it go. We'll let you we'll let you be more in control here. Because ultimately, that's what teens want. They want to feel like they are independent, and they're in control.

Angela Nelson:

Mm hmm. So it sounds like what you're saying is to demonstrate that they have the organizational systems enough so that they can meet those end goals. If they're getting good grades, and things are moving smoothly, then you can kind of fade out.

Kristin Bandi:

Last, but not least, maybe most importantly, for teens modeling appropriate organizational skills. If you make a to do list, start pointing that out to your child. If you're making a grocery list, show them how that works. A very old example would be if you're balancing your checkbook, but that's definitely not something we're doing anymore. I actually still balance my checkbook. No, I'm just kidding.

Angela Nelson:

I do remember watching my mom do that.

Kristin Bandi:

All the time balancing-- very diligent about that. Those things that we might do now as parents, not balancing a checkbook, but other things we might do to keep ourselves organized, point those things out to your team.

Angela Nelson:

Absolutely. I like a lot of these, too. And I think, specifically for the older kids, we read a lot, and you hear a lot about parenting these days, we're very involved. It's, it's good to be involved, but I know that one of the criticisms of our generation of parents is that we're so involved, and we are afraid to let our kids fail. It's actually good to give kids opportunities to try things out, and maybe they will fail. Maybe there's a safety net, so they're not getting severely hurt. I'm not advocating letting your kids, get hurt or fail in a devastating way. It sounds like, what you're saying is help support them, put practices in place, and then you want to be able to monitor and start fading out. Sometimes natural consequences will occur, which is actually part of the learning process, but you're doing these things to help them get more independent so you can fade out so you're not constantly nagging and constantly helicoptering around.

Kristin Bandi:

Yeah, exactly. You said it best earlier, you're pointing out these skills now that they need, we're learning them as teenagers, but it's a rude awakening if you have to learn this at a job. If you need to learn all of a sudden, wow, what is this! I'm getting 17 emails at once. What do I do? How do I prioritize those? So learning these things while you're younger is going to be really beneficial when they are older. We can start teaching that now.

Angela Nelson:

Definitely.

Kristin Bandi:

All right. So let's move on to closing that door for our content for today--real talk with real moms. So I actually had a great idea. This came to me a few weekends ago. We were visiting my my dad and my niece. It was my niece's birthday party. I'd actually never been to their house. We showed up and they have two kids and one is a baby. They have a four year old the baby and I walked in and was like, how is your house so clean? How? That was my fist thought. How is your house so clean? You have a newborn basically...and you have a toddler! How is this possible? I'm not really talking about surface area clean, because I would consider my house to be clean, but the clutter at my house... there is stuff everywhere! Of course after that trip, I came home and I'm looking at my kitchen-- there's a pile of mail, and then there's a cat comb on top of the mail, like, what is that doing there? It doesn't belong there. I'm just looking around, so I texted her later and asked "can you tell me how you keep your house so clean?" That made me think, wow, this is a really good topic to bring up today brecause I'm sure that a lot of our listeners are thinking "yes, my house is clean on the surface, I wipe it down,but the clutter, there's just piles of things." So I thought of a couple and I've these have always been in my head, I obviously don't implement them. There are a couple of strategies that I've heard that are really good. I am going to start implementing both of these. One in particular is called the one touch rule. I think this is so cool. For instance, if you pick up something in your house, you're only touching it one time, which means the time that it's in your hand, it is not leaving your hand until it's in its appropriate spot. So that cat comb, if I brush my cat, instead of sitting it down on the counter, I'm going to finish with the cat comb and then I'm going to put it where it's supposed to go.

Angela Nelson:

Ah, so you're not sitting it down and then you have to go through another opportunity to move it again. It's a time saver.

Kristin Bandi:

Exactly. Now that I think about it, that's something we could start teaching our kids, you know, oh, you're playing with that toy?Where does it go? The other one, which I thought was pretty neat and I'm sure a lot of you have heard of, but basically you pick one month and you just call it like a clean out system month. Every day of that month, you are getting rid of something. You're either throwing it away if it's trash, or you're donating it, but you're picking one thing that day that you're gonna say, "we don't play with this. Maybe it's that airplane. Get rid of it. Just write things like that you could you could get rid of. Those were the two and I figured you can probably relate to this a bit. I thought it was pretty interesting topic for today.

Angela Nelson:

Those are good. Those are good ways to close out our list of tips. I do something similar and it's funny that you mentioned the, the dirty versus cutter. That's one of my biggest pet peeves and I had to recalibrate my expectations a little bit when I became a mom. When I was living on my own, I could just get the cleanest, most pristine, place ever. And then.... you have to have different expectations. It's not going to be spotless all the time. My husband always jokes, because the clutter does not bother him at all. I'm kind of the odd person out. He says "I'm not dirty, I'm just, I just don't mind the clutter, you know, so differentiate." Yes, there's a difference between dirty and cluttered. We do something similar. It does help when I remind my kids that we are going to have this monthly cleanup system. We don't do it at that frequency. Call me old school, but I'm definitely a fan of the spring cleaning and the fall cleaning. Maybe quarterly, I'd say. We'll segment things out like. Are we going to keep this? Are we going to donate it? We have some younger cousins, so we give a lot of our clothes and old toys to the younger cousins, so we'll segment it out. The thing that they don't like is that when I start, when I uncover something, I'm going to go all in and I'm going to do it and then I'm going to go through every room. They have so many bins. Lily loves inventing things, so there's just tape and construction paper and old springs and random stuff everywhere. Then there's the random Barbie shoe with five Magnatiles and a little thing of Playdoh, and then some pens and markers just in random tubs everywhere. I know, it happens fast. I don't know how! It happens so fast that it gets disorganized. So I remind them, hey, we're gonna have to do this clean out, so you might as well just put it back. To your point about the one touch rule, that makes a lot of sense, because you wouldn't really have to do these periodic cleanouts, but I make them do it with me and they don't like it, but that's a natural consequence, right? If you're going to be disorganized, and you're going to just set things down wherever, things get mixed up and game pieces, you know, get mixed with other game pieces. Well, we're gonna have to sit down and the more disorganized you are, the longer you're going to have to do these cleanouts with me. So yes, we definitely do that. Certainly my house is by no means as organized as I want it to be, but I have be realistic.

Kristin Bandi:

Yeah, exactly. I think you've nailed it with having kids. Sometimes with our younger kids, mine are little bit younger, of course, but they really don't have the skills yet, especially a two year old. They think "Oh, this toy's great! Dump it out everywhere." Then you're cleaning it up and they're just throwing everything all together. I remember a couple of months ago, I was going through our playroom. I pulled out all these bins, and I have my bins all labeled---cars go in here, balls go in here, Legos go here-- and everything's just all mixed up. I'm sitting there organizing it and I think everything has a home! There was a home for this piece. You see this little guy? He goes there. I think at any age, you can bring them in to help you out with that. We've tried to migrate everything to our basement. We finished our basement in August, so we've been trying to migrate everything there, but there's still stuff that's upstairs in the living room. My four year old was really excited when I said "okay, see this pile of toys?" I needed to bring them down into the basement and he was so excited. I think it's great to bring in all of your kids at that age. They don't want to do it, but at ages two, three and four, they can be a little bit excited about it.

Angela Nelson:

That's awesome. It's definitely like more of an East Coast thing. I don't know any Californians that have a basement. I have never been in a basement. I don't even know what

Kristin Bandi:

So I'm actually from Pennsylvania, but I grew up they look like. mostly in Florida, and there are no basements in Florida. So you're right, it's more an East Coast thing. There are no basements in Florida either. Now that we've lived here, we've had

Angela Nelson:

I was gonna say the water table is too high or a basement. It's so great that I want to move back to Florida at some point but I wonder if I can build a basement? Is that a thing? But it's not a thing. You can't. You can't have a basement. something. Right?

Kristin Bandi:

Right. Yeah, there was a reason and obviously over by you that there's a reason there's no basements. I wish there were!

Angela Nelson:

We've got to find other solutions for playspaces. Everything has a home.

Kristin Bandi:

Exactly. Everything has a home. In Florida, there are bonus rooms. That's what we had in all the houses. There's usually an extra room upstairs that is your bonus space, and it usually had a vaulted ceiling. That's what most of the houses had.

Angela Nelson:

That's so interesting. Your learn something new every day.

Kristin Bandi:

Now, if you ever visit Florida, you'll have to go see all the vaulted ceilings.

Angela Nelson:

Alright, I think I think that does it for us today, huh?

Kristin Bandi:

Yes, absolutely. All right. Well, thank you, everyone, for joining us on our ninth episode of Behaviorally Speaking. Join us next month for another hot topic: Let's Pay Attention. I know it's goin to be a good one. Until then, d n't forget to subscribe to t is podcast on your favorite p atform so you never miss an e isode.

Reed Dunn:

You've been listening to Behaviorally Speaking with Angela Nelson and Kristin Bandi, brought to you by Rethink. Find out more about Rethink at www.rethinkbenefits.com, where you can find past podcast episodes under the Resources tab. We also invite you to subscribe, follow, like and leave us feedback wherever you listen to podcasts. Your feedback helps us prepare topics and content for future episodes. Until next time, be well.