Recently, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Diane Boden from the Minimalist Moms podcast. We discussed a topic that is incredibly important for families: teaching self-regulation (and managing kids’ stuff). In order to address this issue, we started by discussing what is important: what matters to your family, and how do you prioritize that?
Minimize extra-curricular activities
One of the things we talked about on the Minimalist Moms Podcast was the idea that extra-curricular activities aren’t really “extra” at all. In fact, they often come at the expense of something else. When we’re constantly shuttling our kids from one activity to another, we’re taking away from valuable family time, time for free play, and even time for rest and relaxation.
Minimal options, minimal stress
Sometimes, more choices isn’t better. This idea is supported by research, including the 2000 Jam experiment. In this study, researchers set up a display of jams in a grocery store. On some days, they offered 6 types of jam for customers to sample, and on other days, they offered 24 types. What they found was that while more people stopped to sample the 24 types of jam, they were actually less likely to make a purchase. The abundance of choices left them feeling overwhelmed and unsatisfied.
Similarly, this idea applies to children and the choices we offer them. Michal Maimaran, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management, has conducted research showing that offering children too many choices can actually make them less likely to engage with their final selection. That means kids spend too much time choosing something, then have little energy left to play with it. As a Minimalist Mom, I’d rather see my child engage with a few toys consistently than have them always looking to acquire more.
This can lead to frustration and indecision, and can ultimately make it harder for kids to learn important executive function skills.
Focus on executive function skills
So, what are executive function skills, and how can we teach them to our children? Executive function refers to a set of mental processes that allow us to plan, organize, prioritize, and carry out tasks. These skills are incredibly important for success in school and in life. Here are some tips for teaching executive function skills to your children:
Make and follow a plan: Encourage your child to make a plan for completing a task, and then follow through on that plan.
Adapt: Help your child learn to adapt when things don’t go according to plan. Teach them to be flexible and resilient in the face of challenges.
Categorize: Teach your child to categorize information and ideas. This can help them with organizing and prioritizing tasks.
Delay gratification: Help your child learn to delay gratification by setting goals and working towards them over time.
Reflect: Encourage your child to reflect on their actions and decisions. This can help them learn from their mistakes and make better choices in the future.
Ultimately, what matters most to your family is up to you. But by prioritizing family time, limiting extracurricular activities, and teaching important executive function skills, you can help your children develop the skills they need to succeed in school and in life. I’m so happy to have the opportunity to speak with Diane and the Minimalist Moms podcast. It was a great time, and I hope you tune in!