Hoarding: What to Look For

Hoarders tend to acquire and hold onto objects that for most people would have very little use. Examples might include rocks, toilet paper tubes, paper, Happy Meal boxes, and food. Children might also hoard toy boxes and toys. The objects may or may not have typically sentimental value to the child. Whereas a rock or stamp collector will search out specific items for his collection, a hoarder will acquire items seemingly at random and then struggle when asked to part with them. Adult hoarders are often identified by the clutter they accumulate, which results in complete disorganization and unlivable spaces. Children’s hoarding tends to be more contained—for example, under their bed or in areas of their bedroom—and might not be immediately obvious to an observer because disorganization is common among kids. For children the most notable sign of hoarding is the emotional reaction to their possessions. Children will be constantly worried about them, so much so that it becomes impairing and creates a major source of tension with their parents.