Parents: is your home causing your kids to misbehave?

kids at homePlano, Tex.(RUSHPRNEWS)September 26, 2008 — Visit the home of just about any parent and you’ll probably find a house overflowing with toys, puzzles, books, games, and gadgets. For parents who’ve set aside a separate playroom for their kids, you’ll probably find more of the same — a room bursting with playthings. But what most parents don’t understand is that this may well be doing more harm to their children than good.

According to Tonia Tomlin, a professional organizer and author of the newly-released Chaos 2 Calm: The Moms-of-Multiples’ Guide to an Organized Family, “Too often, well-intentioned parents can unknowingly cause behavior problems for their kids by giving them free run in the playroom and in the rest of the house. This is what I call ‘free-for-all’ parenting.”

The problem with this free-for-all style, says Tomlin, is that children need order: “By giving children too many toys, too many decisions, and too many options, kids can quickly become overwhelmed, overstimulated, and over-cranky. Ask any parent and they’ll likely tell you that the post-playtime meltdown is an all-too-common occurrence. The good news is that it’s an easy situation to remedy.”

Tomlin offers the following tips for parents:

Follow the two-toy rule: children should have no more than two toys available at any one time. Give your child the opportunity to pick which two of their toys they would most like to play with at any one time.

Pick it up! Keep floors and play areas clear of clutter. Use shelving, bins, baskets, and containers to store extra toys.

Help your children take ownership of their toys, and their play space. Teach your children to take care of their toys by remembering to pick them up and put them back in their proper storage place when playtime is over. Reward children with a special outing, treat, or praise when they remember to put their toys back in the proper storage place. This can also help alleviate the panic of not being able to find a child’s favorite toy.

Transition from chaos to calm by using the ZONE method. Divide play areas into zones – such as a puzzle zone, a book zone, a game zone, a doll zone, a stuffed animal zone, a parking zone for toy cars, trucks, and rides, etc. Not only does the ZONE method make organizing easier, but it also gives children a structured play environment.

Set boundaries. Encourage your children to play with zone-specific toys within each of the zones. This keeps the overstimulation at bay, and makes it easier for children to put the toys back when play time is over.

Routine is key. Commit to a routine – whether a playtime routine or a daily routine – and stick to it. Children benefit from having structure and find tremendous comfort in knowing what’s next versus living a life full of daily surprises.

Tomlin adds, “A lack of routine will be chaotic both for your children and for parents. And if parents are exhausted and frustrated, children tend to respond in a similar way. Parents want to give their kids everything they possibly can, and structure is one of the best gifts you can give your kids.”
Tonia Tomlin serves as district reporter for the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs (NMOTC), and is active within her local Mothers of Multiples Group. A sought-after media guest, Tomlin has been featured in numerous local, regional, and national media print and broadcast media outlets, including HGTV’s “Mission Organization” program. Tomlin lives in Plano, Texas, with her husband, Rob, and their identical twin girls, Peyton and Sydney. Chaos 2 Calm: The Moms-of-Multiples’ Guide to an Organized Family is available where better books are sold.

Members of the news media wishing to request additional information are asked to contact Maryglenn McCombs by phone – (615) 297-9875, or by email –

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