Encouraging teenagers to ‘see what we see’ as parents can be a challenge. We see dirty laundry, dirty dishes, clutter, trash, and junk. They see their stuff. And they definitely don’t want mom or dad intruding on their all-important privacy to get the place presentable once in awhile. So what are some guidelines to restoring parental sanity?
How to Motivate Your Teenager to Clean Their Room
Ask Teens Nicely First
Before you go flying off the handle and taking away your teen’s iPod, try catching flies with honey first. Simply casually say (while driving in the car or other non-stressful situation) “Honey, do you think you could please straighten up your room? I have a friend coming over tomorrow (tip: lie if necessary) and I know she’s going to want to see our new paint upstairs.”
Maybe you’ll get lucky and this non-confrontational method will work. Also, be specific about what you want done: trash out, bed made, dresser straightened up, clothes put away, etc.
Second Requests For Teen Cleaning
So that didn’t work? What’s next? How about giving a deadline and a consequence, as in, “It looks like you didn’t get a chance to clean your room. If it’s not clean by Friday, I’m afraid you won’t be able to go to the movies with your friends.”
This approach may have a better chance of working, since there is a direct consequence if the work is not done. Plus, you wouldn’t feel guilty if you did have to ground the teen since you had already tried the pleasant approach first.
Don’t forget: if he doesn’t clean the room by Friday, you really have to stick to your guns: no movies. Otherwise, you will lose your credibility and authority with your teenager.
Regularly Scheduled Cleaning
One thing that also might help is a regular routine. If you have a cleaning person come, for example, you can simply tell your teen that on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays, the room will need to be cleaned and picked up so the cleaning person can dust and vacuum.
Encouraging your teen to do smaller cleaning more often helps avoid the big battle when the room is completely a wreck.
No More Nice Guy: Disaster Room
If your teen has not responded to your earlier quests, the ultimate ultimatum that can often have speedy response is to simply say: If your room is not clean tonight, I am spending the day in there cleaning it myself tomorrow. Teens often cherish their privacy above all, so they will not want you spending the day in their room finding who knows what.
If this doesn’t work, clean it yourself and ground them for two weeks with a total unplugging: no cell phone, no computer, no iPod. Perhaps next time they’ll listen when you say it’s time to clean the room!
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