The bag had been in my car ready to drop off at Goodwill for over 2 weeks and I had carefully chosen each toy based on its non-use, age appropriateness and sheer volume.   I was finally ready to drop them off, when, guess what?   She found them!!

Over the 7 years of Madelyn’s life, I have made a habit of periodically going through her stuff and removing what I think needs to go.   The 20+ stuffed animals, 30+ Barbies and much more spilling out of the closet can literally make me crazy.    Plus, most of the time she doesn’t notice when stuff is gone.  But when she does notice, like today, hysterical crying & screaming that I “threw out her favorite toy” ensues.

Initially, I began to reason with her, like I always do, but this time I really started to listen to her arguments:   “How would you feel if I took your stuff without asking and gave it away?” (Probably not so good…), and “I think it works a lot better when you work with us to get rid of the stuff, like how Grandma did it” (hmmm, let me talk to Grandma…).    I reflected back on my Cooperative Discipline teachings and I realized that she was right!  By randomly throwing out her things, I have been acting disrespectfully towards her.

Some of you are probably saying, “Well, sometimes stuff just needs to go”, and I agree. For those times, here are some things you can do to make it go more smoothly:

  1. Give Choices.  Try something like, “I am willing to allow you to make some of the decisions on what to keep, but what I need is less stuff in the house, so would you like to keep 8 stuffed animals or 10?  Let the top number be something you can live with because you know that they will choose that one (if they know numbers)!
  2. Put firm parameters on what gets kept and get agreement in advance:  “If it is broken we will get rid of it, do you agree with that?”   If later they attempt to keep a broken toy, go back to reminding them of the parameters.  If they do not agree in the first place, you can give choices again, “OK, would you like to keep 1 or 2 broken toys?”  Put in writing if necessary.
  3. Let them choose the charity to which they will donate the extra toys.
  4. Give encouragement throughout the process, “I know it is hard to let go of some things, but you are doing a very nice thing in choosing to give your toys to the Homeless Children.”

Hope this helps!