You have a clean, organized home, that is, except for your teen’s bedroom. Why is it so darned hard to get them to keep their rooms clean? It’s like talking to a wall, right? Well, it doesn’t need to be that way so don’t give up hope. Following are some things to try to get your teenager to clean up their domain, and maybe even without a fight.
First, here are three things you should insist on:
1. Keep the floor picked up to prevent accidents
2. No food or dirty dishes in the bedroom because they can attract insects.
3. Dirty clothes and wet towels need to be put in the hamper because mold and mildew can develop and cause a health hazard.
Give them some obvious reasons to keep their room clean. Here are a few examples.
• Your room will feel bigger.
• You’ll actually be able to find what you’re looking for.
• No more wrinkled clothes.
• Keeping your room clean means fewer germs.
• You won’t feel as uncomfortable having friends over.
Getting Them Started
Put a big container in the middle of their bedroom. Pull everything out from under the bed; put a laundry basket in the room for dirty clothes and a box for things that don’t belong in the bedroom. Place a vacuum cleaner and cleaning supplies in their bedroom and leave them to it. Clearly define what you expect from them and how important it is to have a clean room. This may feel like it’s going in one ear and out the other but . . . somebody needs to do it and that’s usually mom.
Set a Day/Time
Telling your teenager that they need to clean their room (and not just shove everything under the bed), 5 minutes before they head out with friends, isn’t realistic and is sure to start a fight. Instead, agree on a set day and time because they’ll be more likely to make a real effort to clean up. We’re talking wiping down surfaces, stripping the bed, sorting clean clothes and putting them away (in the appropriate places). Let them play their music while they clean too. After all, we all know how much more fun it is to do household chores to music. Who knows – maybe they’ll even enjoy it. We can only hope.
Give Them Some Control
It’s their space, but it’s your home. Let your teenager know that you expect them to clean their room to a certain standard, but let them control all other facets. For instance, let them choose the decor, bed sheets, etc., and let them rearrange the furniture. This gives your child responsibility for the space they pulled together and might encourage them to put in more effort to keep it nice.
Respect Their Privacy
Teenagers need, and deserve privacy but, threatening to come into their room while they’re at school to clean may give them the kick in the pants they need to do it themselves. Popping in on them occasionally to make sure they’re staying on task is okay, but apart from that, show a little faith.
Lead by Example
You shouldn’t expect your children to take cleaning their rooms seriously if the rest of the house is a mess. All kids are more responsive to what we do than what we say. You know the old saying “do as I say not as I do”. Well, it doesn’t make sense.
When it comes to getting their teens to clean their room, some parents just keep the door shut. The reasoning here is to let the messy teen learn from their mistakes when it comes to nasty smells and dirty clothes. Unless you suspect your child of doing something that’s bad for their health or illegal, this approach can work. Another extreme measure is to take the door off the hinges. It may be effective, but get ready for an angry scene.
As parents, our job is to provide our children with the skills and opportunities they need to grow. Teenagers will want to make their own choices and they’re going to make the wrong ones at times, which is part of growing up. As long as you provide them with the necessary “tools” to take care of themselves and their space, teach them problem-solving skills, use rewards and consequences for motivation, and hold them accountable, everything is going to work out eventually. In the meantime, you shouldn’t expect their rooms to be perfect, but you should be able to find a happy medium between them.