Do you wonder if your teen will ever be organised or worry they’re destined to forever live in chaos? Do you avoid walking past their room or close the door to avoid the stress their mess causes you? Dirty socks on the floor, school work piling up on the desk and dirty dishes stranded and forgotten.
Is there hope? Or do you just need to wait it out? If you didn’t train them when they were young in the ways of being organised is it too late to start now? These are all great questions, and were asked of me last night when I was speaking at a parenting workshop. I will answer to the best of my ability…
The way you get teens to keep their rooms in order is very different to how you’d get a 6 year old to clean their room. While you may be able to motivate a small child to tidy their room with their favourite TV show, the same doesn’t work with teens.
With a teen I suggest sitting down and talking with them about the expectations you have as a family and the state of your home. Set out the expectations clearly, maybe even in writing. It may be too much to expect your teen to have a perfectly tidy room, but there still needs to be standards. Perhaps your rules are simple: dirty clothes needs to be washed; clean clothes need to be put away properly; no food left out; dirty dishes returned to the dishwasher etc. These are issues of hygiene and cleanliness so fair enough expectations.
I don’t suggest handing out punishments for teenagers who don’t keep their rooms to your standard. Instead working with them for mutual benefit is often more helpful. For instance rather than saying, “If you don’t tidy your room I won’t take you to the party tonight”, you could say, “Once your room is tidy let me know and I’ll take you to the party.” This applies well to small children too, and helps them develop intrinsic motivation which is critical for healthy adult development.
It may also help your teen for you to offer to help them get their room organised to start off with. I don’t suggest tidying their room without their knowledge, instead build trust and work together with your teen. While their room may not ever appear in a home styling magazine, it is possible to have a room you can enter without tripping on clothes all over the floor.
Enjoy the Freedom!