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Help! My Kid Is a Hoarder

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We installed a Ring camera in our home to catch potential burglars, but to our surprise, instead, we caught our son looking through the trash. When we asked him about it, he admitted he was making sure we didn’t throw away anything that belonged to him. (OK, so maybe I’ve done this a couple of times and maybe there are some trust issues now.) But I feel like I could be on an episode of a bizarre reality show about children hoarding.

It’s taken some time, but we’ve gotten to the root of his hoarding issue: memories. No joke, he once convinced our server to let him keep the restaurant menu because he didn’t want to forget the dinner. This is a battle he may fight for the rest of his life. It may even require professional help down the road. If you have a child who hoards or just has a tough time parting with things, these 4 tricks will help him or her learn to let go.

1. Take a picture! It’ll last longer.

Kids draw a lot! At my house, most of their art ends up in the trash. I keep some masterpieces, but for most, I just snap a photo and save them on my phone. I do this for outings as well. When I can tell my son is starting to worry about capturing a memory, I make sure I show him some photos I’ve taken of special moments and items he wants to remember.

2. Try the “buy one, give one” rule.

I will rip out my hair if my kids bring another stuffed animal into our house. But my son can’t get enough of them! To compromise, we have enacted a “buy one, give one” rule. My son knows how much it hurts to give one away, so he usually decides not to buy one. Crisis averted. You’re welcome.

3. Or try to “toss one, give one.”

Broken wheel on a car? Missing arm on an action figure? Not a problem for my son. He will keep it tucked away in a safe place. We don’t donate broken toys, but that doesn’t stop him from trying! Since we want to encourage him to be generous with his best, we offer to buy a new toy for someone in need if he throws out his broken ones.

4. Organize his room, but don’t toss anything.

If children hoarding is an issue in your house, you’ll find this trick useful. When I help organize his room, my son is a little paranoid that I throw his stuff away without telling him. To try to repair his broken trust, I now throw all the things I couldn’t find a place for in a box and let him go through it. Most of the time, he doesn’t want to spend his time finding a place for those things and he knows that putting them back in his room will only lead to clutter again.

Do you have a problem with children hoarding in your family? What do you do to help them part with things?


What would be the first thing and the last thing you’d want to give away?

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