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I have 2 academically gifted children. My oldest--13 year old daughter--is self-motivated, sets high standards for herself, and is responsible. My 11 1/2 year old son is brilliant, but disorganized. He makes high marks on tests and work he turns in, but he loses papers and forgets to do things and often seems to be irresponsible and lazy. Fifth grade has been a turning point for him--he never had such problems with his grades till this year.<br><br>
It is so hard not to make comparisons. I think my kids are equally intelligent, but my son frustrates me and his father is much less tolerant than me of my son's issues.<br><br>
I hate having to argue with him about everything, he even resists taking a shower or brushing his teeth, or wearing "decent" clothes to church. He usually doesn't mind doing his homework, but he is constantly losing things and stuff falls out of his backpack because he won't take a few seconds to make sure it is zipped up all the way. He really makes me want to pull my hair out! Getting him to help with chores around the house is a nightmare, too.<br><br>
I really want my son to be happy and to achieve his potential.<br><br>
I need to know how to help him and how to keep my own emotions under control and be a better, more supportive mom.
 

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When you have it figured out PLEASE let me know! I have the same situation. My 13-year-old was born with her ducks in a row. DS (9) is brilliant but SO disorganized it hurts. He's in 4th grade and I admit, I'm totally nervous about middle school coming up in 6th! Through 5th, in our local schools, he's pretty much graded on what he CAN do not what he turns in. In middle school, it's letter grades and straight percentages. He's also argumentative and defensive but not extreme and never with me (though he is only 9.)<br><br>
At the moment, we sort of force the issues by teaching him how to use checklists, to occasionally go through the backpack and get his work in order. To keep to a schedule on practicing, homework ect. He doesn't fight it as he really does get frustrated with what his lack of organization does to him (he hates showing up to school and not having the right papers, ect.) I've just been hoping that if we continue to show him how to organize, maturity will help it stick.<br><br>
I've been trying not to get too angry with him because I recognize that it's not intentional. It may "look" lazy but it's a tremendous frustration to DS. Multi-tasking is a struggle. He lives in the moment, not in the future. In some ways, I see the benefit. He doesn't have the anxiety that DD can have because he doesn't think that far in advance. He can be wildly creative and it occasionally pays off big where sometimes DD sticks too much to safe answers. His successes mean so much more to him and he can relish in them where DD continues to nitpick at herself. As frustrating as it is, there is a bright side.<br><br>
At this point, I'm just hoping it gets better with age.... that or he grows up with the ability to get someone else to organize for him lol.
 

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Hey tnmom! I am with you on this one. I have a son about the same age, about the same profile with regards to lack of organizational skills. We've tried and had no success with: file system (in/out for papers that need to be signed and papers that have been signed), journal, big huge calendar, daily notes, charts, email reminders. He's terribly, terribly absent-minded. He can do complex math equations in his head but he will lose homework, permission slips, etc. I have seen him put things into his bookbag, in the morning, then by afternoon when I see him again, he reports that he lost whatever-it-was.<br><br>
Do you think it's a byproduct of giftedness? I've thought about it, but I really think that's his personality -- he is just NOT an organized kid; and while I can give him tools to help him, if he won't use them, he will have to deal with the consequences. His younger sib, like your dd, is very organized and conscientious about her things.<br><br>
I personally have a high need for order and neatness, and while I want to respect his needs (though for what, I'm not sure? His need to lose things? Or his need to be messy?) it is very hard for me to keep my blood pressure down whenever I go into his room.<br><br>
I've tried reframing how I look at things, but so far, it's not helping a whole lot.<br><br>
Most of the organizational tools I've tried to help him with are visual in nature; I am wondering if another approach would be more beneficial. I realize he is not going to be as organized as I would like, that's fine; but the whole issue of having to redo homework assignments and losing school forms does bother me, and it really irritates him, so we both would like to see some improvement in that area.
 

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There is a version of <i>Organizing from the Inside Out</i> for teenagers. I think 11 1/2 might be close enough (especially a gifted 11 1/2, in terms of schoolwork) for a book like that to be useful.
 

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Oh, I thought of something else-- DH grew up in a very old-fashioned town. Even though his mother was a feminist and his parents shared housework at home, when he was out in the world he got very powerful cultural messages that organizing was in the category of "housework," and therefore, girl stuff. It has taken him a lot of effort to retrain himself not to feel ashamed of doing organizing tasks. Since you live in a big city, I don't know if there might be some neighborhoods that are more old-fashioned than others, but if you think your children might be influenced on gender roles by peer pressure, it could be a factor.
 

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I don't know if the following will help you, but something in your post reminded me of some characteristics of visual spatial learners (aka right brain thinkers.) In any case, VSL's aren't especially famous for their organizational skills or being sensitive to time pressures. They do seem to develop their own organizational techniques for things that are important to them.<br><br><a href="http://www.visualspatial.org/Articles/appendc.pdf" target="_blank">http://www.visualspatial.org/Articles/appendc.pdf</a><br><br>
Our ds is much younger, but it will sometimes take him an entire day to complete tasks that should only take an hour or so. It gets done and is typically done well, but it is completely frustrating *to me* to watch him dawdle and think that he is wasting so much time. I've started to help him implement a system where he can check what needs to be done and when to be fair to the rest of the family members who do what they need to in a more timely manner. DS seems to do better when these things are done first thing, so the rest of his day is free for his mind to concentrate on his priorities.<br><br>
Ultimately, I think your ds will need to bear the consequences of being unorganized. What happens when he doesn't turn assignments in and does it matter to him? What about when he doesn't help out around the home?
 

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My eldest, especially, who is 10 and in 6th grade has huge issues with being disorganized, too. With him starting jr. high next year, we're both a bit concerned about how he's going to manage.<br><br>
At the first parent-teacher meeting this year, his teachers brought up the problem - he just wasn't turning stuff in and was constantly leaving papers in different classrooms. One of the teachers made a suggestion of using a pocket file [URL="<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325&tag=motheringhud-20&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2F13-Pocket-Elastic-Closure-GLW89100-Category%2Fdp%2FB000Q5ZPVS" rel="norewrite" target="_blank">http://www.amazon.com/13-Pocket-Elastic-Closure-GLW89100-Category/dp/B000Q5ZPVS"/URL</a>] to keep his papers in. He had previously had a binder with multiple folders, but just didn't take the time to put papers into the folders. I didn't see how this would be any different, but we gave it a shot. It's actually worked quite well. Rather than all of his papers being shoved into a binder (just inside the cover, mind you - not in the folders) and often falling out and being lost, he's now able to just drop them in the pocket file and there they stay. He's still not the most organized with it, but at least he's not losing papers constantly.<br><br>
My husband is much the same way and one thing that he recently started doing to keep himself organized and to keep from forgetting things is to carry (and use) a small notebook with him at all times. He prefers a tiny moleskin notebook rather than a spiral. He jots random thoughts and "to do" items and whatever else. He feels that writing all this random and basic stuff down clears his mind to work on more meaningful things, rather than always being bogged down trying to keep track of the mundane.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>lolar2</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15443577"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Oh, I thought of something else-- DH grew up in a very old-fashioned town. Even though his mother was a feminist and his parents shared housework at home, when he was out in the world he got very powerful cultural messages that organizing was in the category of "housework," and therefore, girl stuff. It has taken him a lot of effort to retrain himself not to feel ashamed of doing organizing tasks. Since you live in a big city, I don't know if there might be some neighborhoods that are more old-fashioned than others, but if you think your children might be influenced on gender roles by peer pressure, it could be a factor.</div>
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This is a very good point.
 

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I am a disorganized adult. I can tell you some of my coping mechanisms/things that help me.<br><br>
I make checklists and leave them where I can see them (or else I forget I have those lists).<br>
I have a watch with an alarm and timer bulit in that can remind me of things easily/keep me on task.<br>
I have one place where all my stuff gets dumped, so I can always look there for whatever it is I am missing.<br>
A specific place for everything makes a big difference too. And less stuff.<br><br>
For the notebook i like a spiral bound hand-sized one. I write to-do lists, ideas, whatever in there. It really helps.<br><br>
One thing that does NOT help me and makes it nearly impossible for me is when people clean up my stuff. I know where things are in my head, then I go to get it and it has been put away so I get confused about it and have no idea. So please don't organize his papers or piles or move his stuff - I mean even straightening stuff and not totally relocating - that still makes it impossible for me. If he does the moving himself, he will know where things are, if he doesn't do it, it's lost to him (if he's like me).<br><br>
Tjej<br><br>
ETA: I should say too that if you came to my house you might not believe what a scatterbrained disorganized person I am. Getting rid of things and having a husband who values order have caused me to have a very organized and relatively clean home. So there is hope! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1">
 

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Has anybody tried working with an academic coach?<br><br>
This woman, <a href="http://www.gretchenwegner.com" target="_blank">www.gretchenwegner.com</a> is someone whose work I follow because of other things she does and she seems to have a way of working with kids on organization that gets into their heads and works from their perspective and getting them to take responsibility for the follow-through.<br><br>
I am sure that the fact that a coach isn't mom or dad must help. Looking at the chaos in my house now, I expect I'm going to be looking for that sort of resource at some point.
 

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My dd, 11 suffers from this as well. When I am feeling less optimistic, I assume she will obtain some of these skills when her frontal lobe matures in her 20's. LOL<br><br>
We are currently trying to set a few easily obtained goals and help her find ways to remind herself of those goals. We try to fade back our reminding and assistance. We have many long talks about why building organizational skills is of benefit. She seems to have bought into the process but it is still very slow going.<br><br>
Oh, and we are making it a joint effort - I need help too! We started <a href="http://www.habitforge.com" target="_blank">www.habitforge.com</a> to help with the process.
 

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I am not like this, but my very intelligent husband is. He makes major use of his cell phone alarm to remind him of things, and he also frequently calls himself and leaves himself messages!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Lots of great ideas and I'm glad to know there are other moms suffering through the same thing as me.
 

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Moving to Childhood Years...
 

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Accept that your son is disorganised without judgment (because you probably cannot change that), keep giving him organisational tools until something helps but do not expect miracles, let him reap his own consequences for disorganisation, and try not to let his disorganisation affect others (example: his paper spill out of his backpack and all over the table). Value his strong suits.<br><br>
As an aside, Brett Michaels just won Celebrity Apprentice. He certainly came across as somewhat disorganised, but also very hard working, creative and a think on your feet type. Organisation is something but it is not <i>everything.</i>
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>tnmom66</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15442416"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I hate having to argue with him about everything, he even resists taking a shower or brushing his teeth, or wearing "decent" clothes to church. He usually doesn't mind doing his homework, but he is constantly losing things and stuff falls out of his backpack because he won't take a few seconds to make sure it is zipped up all the way. He really makes me want to pull my hair out! Getting him to help with chores around the house is a nightmare, too.</div>
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Your son sounds very like mine. I was at a loss and completely frustrated<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/Cuss.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="cuss"> with him until recently he was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder. You might want to check it out. If it was just the disorganization I would think he needed help training himself to be organized, but coupled with the other issues that you experience at home it sounds like maybe there is a deeper issue. My ds just doesn't see that when his face is dirty it means it needs washed or that if he zips up backpack his supplies won't fall out. For some reason his brain doesn't connect cause and effect on some levels. If this looks like something you might want to investigate my ds's school sent us to an Occupational Therapist for a diagnosis. Feel free to pm me if you want to talk more indepth.
 

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I wonder if you might get some more responses on the preteen/teen list. That would be the right age range for your son and that is typically the age when organizational issues become a big issue.
 
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