33 answers

I Need Advice! My Daughter Will Not Throw Anything Away!

My daughter is 8 and won't throw anything away. She is a great kid, but gets emotionally attached to everything. And when I say attached, I mean really attached. She made a little head out of the wax around cheese, and then gave it a name. Since it has a name it also has feelings, and my daughter has feelings for it, and can't be thrown away. Her room is so cluttered with stuff, it is ridiculous. She has a dead bug in a little box. The box is the dead bugs home, but the bug is DEAD!!!! She collects Alluminum foil, tearing it up in little pieces and calling them tinnies. She can't part with anything, and it is just overwhelming to walk in her room.

I don't know what else to say to her to get her to stop herself from collecting more "Garbage." I want her to realize what is important and what is not, but to her everything is important. I keep her beautiful art and all of her school stuff, but there is a limit on how much our house can hold. Everything is a treasure to her and I don't know how else to encourage her to "throw away junk."

I don't want to mean, but I have gone the nice route, and now I have had it!!
I have told her that she has to clean out, so that she has room for the new Holiday/birthday things coming our way soon.

What do I do? Help!!!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank You so much for all of your responses. We have not made any decisions yet, but it is so helpful to know that there are other people going through the same things. Many of your stories made me laugh, and that is helpful in itself! I am truly blessed to have such a great, creative kid. I just want her to be happy and healthy. I do appreciate all of your help! I will talk to the Pediatrician and get her input. Thanks Again!!!

Featured Answers


Since she is so carrying about everything how about trying to get her to share some of her wealth with needier kids try to explain that there are children that don't have as much and she would be helping them...you can than have her make boxes of stuff to give away...than you can take some of the stuff that can really be given a way to a charity or salvation army and the other stuff you can secretly throw out..once she learns to part with stuff it might be easier to explain that some stuff is okay to keep and other stuff really just needs to be tossed..

A lil about me: mother of 5 (18-26) grandma to 3 (1.5-4)very nice husband

Good Luck

I have no advice --just wanted to say how much I liked reading the posts here. These quirky behaviors are what makes childhood so sweet..the dead bugs are a little creepy but sweet none the less. Enjoy the phase!

More Answers

Maybe she has OCD or maybe she is a little more human than the rest of us. I couldn't disagree more with the mom who said you should trade the dead bug with a toy. I think you are blessed to have a girl who will touch bugs and put a value on life and relationships. Yes, she still is valuing "things" but things she finds or creates. She has an artists soul and I think this should be fostered. Whoever said you should take pictures, have a funeral for the bug and save certain things was right on! My only question would be if she has enough friends? Maybe she spends a little too much time in her own imagination but I still think it's better than having to get the next video game or barbie doll. Plus, if I remember correctly, I spent all my time in a closet when I was 8 pretending it was my home and all my stuffed animals went with me because I didn't want to hurt their feelings. I think this is what 8 year old girls are supposed to do.

1 mom found this helpful

I was that child as a kid, not so much the dead bugs or erasers but every stuffed animal had a name and I had to keep it or shells from every vacation, school notes, post cards, snow globes, books, etc... you name it I had it. It got to the point my room and our playroom was full to the brim. My sister and I had trouble cleaning it up. One weekend my mom and dad said that we had to clean it or they would throw anything that was not put away in the garbage. Monday my dad got home from work and literally went to our basement play are and our rooms with garbage bags, whatever was on the floor he picked up and put in the bags. Needless to say my 9 year old sister and I (7) were screaming and crying no no no. We would pick it up, we ran around trying to pick up what we could before he could get to it. The rest went into the attic. We did not know it at the time but my mom went through it and saved the things she knew were valuble or sentamental to us and the rest went to charity. From then on once a month when the AMVETS or some other charity called we planned the monthy clean out and had to purge things. Now I am 30 and think uh that was kindof drastic and emotional but it worked.
I watch some of those cleaning and organizing shows and know they say if you have bins that are reasonable in size she can only fill those with her items and then has to purge to make room for what new things she wants to put inside. It is so hard to have to know you are hurting their feelings knowing they are so attached, but there has to be limits or you will suffocate in stuff. It is a hard skill to learn.

1 mom found this helpful

I have a 9 year old and we discovered something this month. I need to separate myself from his room while we are cleaning it. I used to go in there and try to help him clean. He would get frantic because I was moving, touching, sorting... his treasures. I would get frustrated because everything I tried to him clean sent him over the edge.
So this time I sent to him his room and we started one shelf at a time. He brought everything off the shelf that didn't belong on it to the kitchen table.
When we got it on the table (out of his room), he was able to disconnect and look at it differently. It made it easier for him to decide in each individual group what was important and what could be tossed or given away. In fact, he was able to do it himself. I basically came to the table when he brought in a new group of stuff as moral support. No more arguing about cleaning!
After he sorted it, he took it to his room and put it where it belonged. We did this in half hour shifts over a couple of days and his room looks great. He feels great because he did it. He didn't feel like he was being forced anymore.

1 mom found this helpful

Oh my gosh, it almost sounds like my daughter. She removes the metal piece that holds the eraser on a pencil and makes little animals by covering in paper.She is very creative but we can only keep so much. She also makes stuff out of the cardboard-type things (the same material that is used for cup holders at fast food places) or styrafoam that comes in boxes of things to protect it in shipping-like vacuum cleaners or the tv. I asked the doc and she said that since she is being creative, she is fine but to watch it since she could become compulsive. Ask your doc just in case. I wish I could offer help. I clean things out when she is at school and if she asks, I have told her the stuff went to visit another child.

1 mom found this helpful

My 10-year-old daughter has been a "collector" since she was little. I am enjoying reading all the responses because they all sound so much like her (dead bug collection, making things out of garbage, worried that I might someday sell my car and get a new one because she "loves" the one we have.) LOL I don't even think this comes close to OCD. I just think some kids are more sensitive and interested in the world around them than others. My older daughter was not like this at all. I have tossed some things while she is at school and she doesn't miss them -- so that is one good tip. We are going to bag up some stuffed animals next week and put them in the basement and see if she misses them. (She will help.) I think she'll forget about them. When I was little I had a good friend who was just like this. Her room was a total disaster -- filled with lots of "stuff." She was very arty and could make something out of nothing. I loved going to her house because her room was like a treasure trove! Today she is a costume designer on Broadway and her home is a lot like her room was. But she is happy, has a beautiful son and that's just the way she is wired, I think. She would be uncomfortable living in a spic-n-span room. I think the same is true for my daughter and others who have kids like this.

1 mom found this helpful

Wish I could help you but My son is 18 years old and still has many of his things stored away. He did not like to get rid of anything either. When we moved to our new house we thought he would get rid of some things but no he wanted to keep everything. Six years later he is now getting ready for college he is putting all his things into rubber made containers and putting them in our loft. His view is I will have children one day and they will have these great toys that were once mine.

Go Figure... I still feel that I should not force him to get rid of anything he truly wants to keep, as long as we have the room.


1 mom found this helpful

I can understand that you must be so frustrated but as an outsider, your story really is so cute. Someday you will be LOL as you hear another mother talking about their child with bugs in a box...I kept finger nails in a box...LOL how gross is that.

I read many suggest OCD and I read the link to Mayo. The big thing I hear you saying though is that she has emotions, feelings and uses great imagination with her things. That seems very different to me. So many children these days are not allow to feel their feelings or their spirits are squashed by what we think is right or what order we need in our lives. I can't imagine how devastating it would be to just have her precious things thrown away and called garbage. For what ever reason they are special to her. So many of us lack imagination and I am sure sometimes it takes great patience to nurture this quality.

Maybe sitting down with her and discussing a win win agreement. Tell her how you feel and ask her to come up with some ideas how to maybe bring some order to her collections. She will feel empowered by coming up with the suggestions, it has to be acceptable to both parties of course.

My opinion is she is a kid with a great imagination. She is in touch with her feelings and cares about others feelings. She can find beauty in the small things and has a gift of creativity. Gosh, don't I wish I were more like that :-)

Win Win is the key...I think the two of you can come up with some great ideas....Good Luck!!

1 mom found this helpful

My 8 yr old was doing all of this as well. At one point, she was "collecting" street salt in her chest of drawers. I have also found dead bugs in her barbie house. Just keeping everything. She seemed very attached to everything and cried each time we cleaned her room. Then I got her evaluated and learned she was OCD and on the road to hoarding.

Since starting treatment and learning about why she "collects" these things, she has stopped collecting this type of stuff. We are encouraging one collection and she gets to choose what it is (ie stickers, pins, pencils,etc). Could just be their way of trying to have a little control. I would suggest talking to her pediatrician or finding someone that specializes in anxiety to talk to at least once. I didn't think we needed to, but once we did, it took a lot of the pressure off and helped me to understand as well.

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