Kids Keeping Track of Their Things

Featured Picture Book

PLAIDYPUS by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel

(Available at your local public library or bookstores, including online stores.)

Plaidypus is Granddaughter’s favorite stuffed animal – handmade by Grandma out of Grandpa’s old plaid shirt. Granddaughter takes Plaidypus everywhere she goes – on the slide, in the sand, at the lake, and for rides in the car. What a sight – Plaidypus being held out the car window “flying” through the air. But Granddaughter can’t keep track of Plaidypus. She loses him over and over again. She looks for him high and low time after time. Every time she finds him, she promises, “…I’ll never, ever lose you again.” But, she does lose him – over and over again. One time he is lost for days and days. He is found, but he is ripped and scraggly. Grandma’s needle and thread come to the rescue, but readers are left wondering if Granddaughter’s promise, “And I promise I‘ll never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever lose you again.” finally means she will keep track of Plaidypus once and for all.

Parenting Thoughts 
When a Child Loses Something Special

Dr. Mom’s Do’s and Don’ts:

  1. Don’t talk your child out of his feelings. – “Never mind that old raggedy bear; you have several pretty new ones.”
  2. Don’t distract him from his feelings. – “Let’s go have an ice cream cone.”
  3. Don’t overindulge him with too much stuff. – “I’ll buy you a new one.”

Darling Daughter:  That’s a hard one! I have to admit I had a “stunt double” hidden away at our house for MANY years just in case “Guy” (Ezzy’s little pink teddy) ever went MIA. Luckily we didn’t need the backup because of a loss, but when she was about 8 I wrapped the backup bear up and gave it to E to have and love while she was still at that age to get some use out of him. He became “Guy 2.” J

I remember like it was yesterday when Darling Daughter’s first 10-speed bicycle was stolen from our driveway. We were all sad (and mad) beyond words.

Darling Daughter was somewhat responsible in that she had not put it completely away in the garage – although that is no reason for someone coming up our driveway and helping himself (or herself) to DD’s bike!

I was completely bewildered. They had to come up the hill of a driveway, walk past the house, and back to the garage to get to the bike (and then repeat to make a “getaway”). It didn’t seem fair – or even possible. But, it happened, and I had to deal with it.

I so wanted to buy Darling Daughter another bike. After all, she was a victim of someone else’s terrible (and criminal) behavior. But, reminding myself of the lesson available, I did not. And, to her credit, she did not ask or expect me to.

Now that you have said that, I realize that I indeed didn’t expect you to buy another bike. That thought never crossed my mind. Interesting.

After getting past our sadness and anger, we together made a plan for her to earn money to replace the bike herself. She did – and she developed some moneymaking skills along the way.

And cooking skills! I started a neighborhood catering business offering everything from a dozen chocolate chip cookies to whole dinners – including homemade bread!

In fact, many years later her self-run little business that summer was one of her most interesting profile pieces on her college applications. College admission folks are looking for young adults who have turned bad situations into better ones.

 Back to the do’s and don’ts for when a child loses something special …

  1. Do talk with your child about his feelings. Tell him you are sorry he is sad (or mad or scared). Let him rant. Let him cry. Show him you are sorry he is hurting. Sit close by him. Hug him. Pat him.38 Sidebar 1
  2. Do help your child search for the lost item, if that is possible.

E came home from a camp-in at the local zoo this past summer and had forgotten a pair of socks. Due to the anxiety of sleeping over at the zoo and the lack of sleep associated with the overnight, we had a major melt down when she realized her socks did not come home with her.

 We did the cuddle and sit in our feelings part. We did the search the suitcase bit. I even offered (and did) call and email the zoo trying to track down the socks. I even started surfing ebay to look for a replacement pair (I know, not the best parenting choice – I’m human). I found a similar pair in a different color and bigger size, but didn’t give in to the “easy” way out. Eventually, E settled with the fact that the socks were gone and moved on. She’s never brought up buying the other pair.

Dr. Mom:  When we are buying our kids things they haven’t even asked for or shown they really want – these are the times to carefully ask ourselves if we are overindulging.

Sesame Street used to tell kids, “Walk backwards through your mind.” Think where you were last and then before that, etc., etc. Go back and retrace those steps, if possible.

I remember that. I think I missed the “in your mind” part at first and tried to retrace my steps . . . while really walking backwards – very hard to do, bump into a lot of things. Maybe that’s the idea. When you’re not really looking, you might bump into the thing you lost. LOL

  1. Do turn the bad experience into a lesson for the future.

Talk about how the item that was lost. Did the child set it down and go off to do something else? Give it to a friend for a while? Forget to put it away in its carrying case or to close up the case it was in?

Talk about what he can do to keep this from happening again. He could always give it to an adult when done playing with it. Have a special case for the item that is safe and that he can open and latch easily. He could choose not to take it to places where he knows things will be hectic and hard to keep track of.

Talk about what would make him feel better. Does he just need to give himself some time to look for the item? To be sad? Does he have something that can take the place of the item? Can he replace the item?

Something Bad’s Going to Happen

Sometimes you will see your child doing things with something special that you know is going to lead to an accident or a loss. Here is one way to tell the child to be careful.

  1. Don’t do that with your (item)
  2. Because (the danger) might happen to it.
  3. Do this (the safer activity) with your (item) instead.

If the child doesn’t listen, you have a choice:

  • Intervene and remove the item from him.
  • Let him experience the natural consequences of losing or hurting his special item.

When you make that decision whether to intervene or not, consider what will be the best learning experience for your child rather than what is easiest for you to handle.

That’s a hard one. My “knee-jerk” reaction is always the path that will be easiest for me. J I have to take a step back and quickly remind myself to think carefully about what is best for E and not easiest for me.

Taking the easiest path is what we all naturally want to do. Just keep letting your brain kick in and help you with the decision. This is why you read this blog – to make sure your brain is armed with lots of information about kids and ways to parent that can help with these decisions.

Sometimes removing the special item from the child is the best lesson – because losing or letting the item be destroyed would be too big a disaster. Other times, experiencing the sadness and trying to problem-solve the loss or damage might be an important and effective lesson.

“The Devil Made Me Do It” – Talking (and Taking) Responsibility

When a child loses something, this is a good opportunity to teach them how to think and talk about responsibility. Many people tend to talk about losses as though they are something that “happen” to them, rather than something they have made happen. They will say, “My key is lost.” Not, “I lost my key.” Likewise, when we find a lost item, we tend to say, ”It’s found.” Instead of, “I found it.”

When you hear your child talking like this (or yourself for that matter), correct him (or yourself). The words he uses can remind him who is responsible – that people are responsible, not things. The words will remind him that there are things he can do to prevent losses, and things he can do to find things that are lost.38 Sidebar 2

It’s easy to correct his language. Just have him use the letter “I” in his sentence. “I dropped it.” “I forgot it.” “I looked for it and found it.” “I called and asked at lost and found.”

OMG! This has been the story of my LIFE! When I was in middle and high school it seemed like everything that came out of my mouth was wrong. It got to the point where Mom would just say, “Buzz” (like she had a buzzer for incorrect answers on a game show). In fact, I swear at one point in my life, she even got her hands on a real buzzer from some board game and would just buzz it when I opened up my mouth and spoke. J It’s amazing I survived with my sanity . . no comments, Mom 😉

Read All About It

GROWING UP AGAIN, Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? Jean Illsley Clarke, Connie Dawson, and David Bredehoft


 Surf the Internet:
  • kids losing things
  • kids getting organized
  • self-esteem
  • kids keeping track of things
  • overindulgence
  • kids’ feelings
  • feeling faces
  • walking backwards through your mind
  • kids making excuses

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