‘Declutter: Making Kids Confident’ by Dr Ash Nayate and published in Great Health Guide (July 2017). Decluttering is normally associated with being organised and removing unwanted effects from our lives. However, the process of decluttering can also bring positive effects to one’s mindset and emotions. In particular, children may benefit greatly from this process as it has been found to increase resilience in children. Neuropsychologist Dr Ash Nayate explains the key benefits of decluttering and how this can increase children’s resilience and confidence.
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MINDSET: Declutter: Making Kids Confident
written by Dr Ash Nayate
Although confidence and decluttering are seemingly unrelated, the process of decluttering can profoundly impact our kids’ confidence, emotional intelligence and resilience. These are abilities that are perhaps some of the most crucial elements of a happy and successful life.
Resilience is the ability to recover from life’s stressors. When life throws us a curveball, it’s our resilience that allows us to manoeuvre around it, cope with it and/or work with it. Thus, we grow and become stronger than we were before. Resilience is a self-perpetuating skill. The stronger we are, the more confident we become and the more likely we are to take on further challenges fuelling further growth.
Resilience is a psychological characteristic that hardly seems relevant to our surroundings. How could a simple change in our environment actually boost our kids’ confidence?
It turns out that resilience isn’t just something we acquire through sheer luck. While some people seem to be more naturally resilient than others, resilience is a skill that can be learned. Since our daily experiences are teaching opportunities which especially holds true for kids, then the activities we undertake and the lessons learned through them, go a long way in shaping resilience.
So here are three key benefits of decluttering that will assist your children.
1. Decluttering isn’t just organising and tidying up.
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Decluttering involves a fundamental shift in the way we think about ourselves, our possessions and our environment. Decluttering requires us to make crucial decisions about what’s important. It requires us to be future-focused and to see beyond our immediate gratification. It requires us to think creatively about what we choose to retain. In times of crisis when our resilience is put to the test, it’s precisely these skills upon which we need to draw.
Stressful times require us to think beyond our immediate knee-jerk reaction and to instead focus on the bigger picture and act accordingly. For example, consider a scenario where a child wishes to be class captain, but is nervous about speaking in public. The knee-jerk reaction is to avoid the fear of public speaking and to avoid giving a speech or perhaps to withdraw from candidacy altogether. However in the bigger picture, this child may have a strong desire to contribute to the classroom with superior leadership. The temporary discomfort of public speaking is well worth the long-term satisfaction of class captaincy and working through the discomfort is what helps boost resilience and confidence.
When we help our kids declutter, we teach them to look at their possessions in new ways. Instead of simply striving to acquire and hoard, we show them how to view belongings with a more critical eye. Are their belongings still serving a vital function in their life? If so, what is that function and is this conducive to the ‘bigger picture’ of their goals and aspirations? If not, then how might this item be better utilised? Perhaps by selling, donating, or re-purposing it.
To change perspective on possessions – or on anything – requires flexibility of thought, which is a key ingredient in resilience and confidence. The more flexible our kids are in their thinking, the easier it is for them to shift their focus from immediate gratification to long term fulfilment.
2. Decluttering also forces us to make tough decisions about our environment.
These decisions can include letting go of items that perhaps have sentimental value but which are not adding something positive to our lives. These days, it’s too easy to hold onto things – even those that add no value or even detract from
our lives – out of habit or fear. And yes, this even includes toxic or negative relationships. Decluttering teaches our kids that memories are not held within our sentimental items and that it’s possible to hold onto a memory without having to hold onto a physical object. Decluttering also teaches kids that it’s OK to let go of things that are no longer in our best interest and to be discerning about what and who, they choose to bring and keep in their lives.
3. Decluttering promotes the ideas of community, empathy and consideration for others.
When we eliminate the extraneous, especially with the intention of passing it along to others who could really use it, we teach our kids that they are not simply islands, independent of everyone else, but that their actions or inactions directly affect others. A vital component of confidence and healthy self-esteem is knowing that WE MATTER. When we promote the idea of community, our children learn the fulfilment that comes from helping others. And, perhaps more importantly, our children learn that it’s OK to reach out for help.
Author of this article:
Dr Ash Nayate is a clinical neuropsychologist specializing in brain function and resulting behaviour. Ash has almost 15 years’ experience working with children and families, supporting them to feel happier, more confident and resilient. To contact Ash please visit her website.
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