In a previous blog, I discussed why teens have a messy room and why it is important that they be allowed some independence in this area. For as Dr. Michelle Aycock reminds parents a teen’s room “is an expression of their personality. It is their sanctuary and it is not your responsibility to clean it.” But you can establish certain rules that govern the untidiness of their bedroom and expect them to abide by these rules.
Here are some simple bedroom rules that you can establish:
1. There have to be clear paths in the room where a person can walk safely. One parent referred to it is preventing a “fire hazard”.
2. Anything that attracts bugs has to go. That means there can be no food or food wrappers left in the room.
3. Clothing that is not in the hamper will not be washed.
4. Any property that is damaged in the room because of neglect, stepped on, ripped etc. will not be replaced.
You will notice that the rules do not require your child to keep things spotless, just livable.
When combating your child’s messy room try some of these techniques:
Make sure that everything has a place. If your child has no place to put their toys buy bins or boxes and label them. Buy low bins that can be placed under your child’s bed for extra storage space.
Remove toys or items that are not being played with or used. Donate them or store them and use a rotating system.
Clothes are a big problem. Remove clothing that is out of season or too small from your child’s drawers. Each spring and fall I go through my kids clothing and take out those items that aren’t needed. This prevents clothes from piling up in drawers and closets.
Provide a clothes hamper in your child’s room. Remind them that the only clothes that will be cleaned are those that are in the hamper.
Ask your child what they need to help stay better organized. If they are constantly losing schoolwork buy a bin that is for their schoolbooks and papers.
Allow your child to accept responsibility for their room. Once they realize that clothes will not be cleaned unless they are in the hamper they will most likely put their clothes in the hamper.
Have a box that your child can place important papers and notes. Once a year require them to go through the box and throw away the things that aren’t important anymore.
If you have children that share a room consider this:
Growing up I shared a room with my younger sister. As teenagers most of our arguments surrounded the topic of our room. I liked to keep the room clean. She didn’t. As a result a lot of conflicts ensued. My parents tried to combat it the best they could be providing us each with our own desk. (It was obvious which was mine.) They also assigned walls to each of us, where we could express ourselves. I would often take my sisters junk and throw it in a corner of the room, which she did not like. But my parents supported me telling her that if she wasn’t willing to clean up her things then she couldn’t complain if they were thrown in a pile.
After I went to college my sister decided that she liked a clean room. (Of course she waited until I moved out.) Now my sister keeps her house cleaner than I do. So there is hope that eventually your child will grow out of their messy stage and realize that a clean room is much nicer to live in. But if this doesn’t happen until adulthood remember what Dr. Aycock says, “If your child’s messy room really bothers you, the quickest solution is to just shut the bedroom door and the mess will disappear.