If you’re reading this article in the hope that it will give you 10 techniques to help your child to become more responsible with their belongings, you’ll be sorely mistaken. If, on the other hand, you’re reading this because your kids loses stuff all the time too and you’re looking for some solidarity, read on. I’ve got solidarity up the wazoo.
I have three kids, and between them, they have pretty much lost everything in the entire world. I don’t blame the young ones so much. At six and four, they’re still pretty little to take full responsibility for their possessions. I carefully write their names in permanent marker on everything they own that they intend on taking out of the house. I assume they will lose stuff. It’s practically their job.
But the 12 year old is a different story. It’s not that I expect her to be perfect. We all lose stuff from time to time, but honestly, this kid is pathological in her losingness.
She started high school this year, and before the school year had even started, she had lost her school tie and badge. So we had to schlep up to the uniform shop in the week before school started along with every other bozo that hadn’t been organised enough to buy their uniforms earlier, find a carpark and battle the crowds in order to get a measly tie and badge.
And of course the day before school started, she found her original tie and badge inside her school hat.
Since that day, only two months ago, my daughter has lost her water bottle, her hat, her phone, her sports uniform and one of her shoelaces (!). Miraculously, considering her school requires her to carry an iPad every day, she has yet to lose that. But now that I’ve said that out loud, I have no doubt it will be next.
I’ve tried all manner of techniques to try to teach her responsibility with her things. I’ve made her pay for the replacements. I’ve refused to replace things, or made her wait for a period of time. I’ve tried to maintain a good routine and a place for everything, but honestly, if you can explain to me how that will stop her losing a shoelace, I’m all ears.
I think the fact is, I just have one of those kids who loses stuff. And I’m not surprised. I used to be a kid who lost stuff too. But then I learned to organise myself in such a way that I would know where things were, and where I was supposed to put them. It took me probably until I was in my thirties before I really got a handle on that.
So now we play the waiting game with my daughter. I can only do so much at this stage to help her through this time, so I watch passively as she lives without a phone, gets a detention for not having her hat, and wears one shoe that flaps about all over the place. She’ll learn; eventually, she’ll learn. And until then, I’ll help pick up the pieces, but not too efficiently.