18 answers

My Daughter Refuses to Clean Her Room

Over the last few months my daughter absolutely refuses to do any cleaning in her room. She'll help me all day with the rest of the house, but when it comes to her room, she won't. I'm at my wits end, and I need some advice. I've tried prizes(I have a whole bag in my closet she can choose from), I've tried time-outs, I've even gone in there with a trash bag and said if she doesn't start cleaning I will take away all the toys that are not picked up. Right now she has me so frustrated she's sitting on her bed until she decides she wants to clean. She'll just stare defiantly at me and tell me she really doesn't want to clean, she only wants to play. I always follow through on whatever discipline I'm using, I always let her in on clear punishments, and give her time to fulfill her chores, but it's getting worse and worse. I don't know what to do, I am so at my wits end with her... I'm so sleep deprived from trying to care for my newborn and the house and the pets(8 birds and 2 cats)and her that I'm really starting to get short with her. I feel bad, and I just really need some advice on what I can do about her behavior lately. I know some of it is jealousy and vying for my attention, but I try to spend time with her, with and without baby Audrey. Please help!

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Featured Answers

I haven't used this but I know a lot of Moms who swear by housefairy.org. It might help or at least give you some good ideas.

I had this same issue with my 4 year old. I actually put her toys in the trash bag, with her watching, and put them in the garage with the rest of the trash. I eventually brought them back in without her knowing, but it worked. We have also started allowance and that has also helped. I guess it is just a phase and hopefully will pass. I hope this helps!

More Answers

I HIGHLY disagree w/ the people who said "just close the door" and here is why: you are doing your child a disservice if you don't show her how to organize her belongings and clean her room.

I was never shown how to clean my room, put things away and organize; it was a disaster when I went to college and then when I lived on my own. I couldn't do laundry. I couldn't even BOIL WATER. thats right, I put a pot of water on the stove to boil, turned up the burner but not enough...I couldn't boil WATER! :-O

check out the above site someone suggested (housefairy, its on the flylady.net web site). there are some great ideas.

If you are going to follow the housefairy ideas and help your daughter clean up her room, it will show her responsibility. It will also show her that you are NOT "the maid." I'm big on children having responsibility for themselves.

I have set up my son's room (he is 7) so that he has ample space to put things away. We added some shelves (down low so he can reach) in his closet. if they have spots to put things away, it will be easier for them to clean.

I have a limited amount of toys in my son's room; and he cleans his room EVERY NIGHT. and he also picks up his toys in the living room EVERY NIGHT. He also helps me with laundry, clears the table, and dusts, and other small misc. tasks. I don't think I'm pushing him too hard; and as he gets a bit bigger I will add even MORE chores! ;-)

I just want to show him a few things: first, he is part of our household, and responsible for helping run the house as well; I'm showing him that mom will NOT wait hand & foot on him; and I"m showing him skills that he will use when he's an adult; either in college or in his first apartment. I WANTED to keep things clean, I just had NO IDEA how to go about cleaning anything, or even how to pick up after myself (i know, I know. what can I say, my mother waited on us hand and FOOT.)

if you start NOW, (she is only 5?) you can fix this problem and give her some good life skills.

when people come over to our house, they always remark on how "clean" our son's room is! He actually LIKES keeping it clean, I swear! but I really believe its because we always expected him to, and helped him pick up toys when he was a toddler, and gave him more and more things to do and put away the older he got. His room never gets to be a disaster.

I know its got to be hard with a new baby, but if you nip this in the bud now, it will get much easier eventually. you may even have to break it down into steps for her...saying "clean your room" can be overwhelming to a child. go in there and say "put all the small toys away" and watch her do it. then say "pick up all the clothes & put them in the hamper" and watch her do it. then say "put your stuffed animals on the bed" then watch her do it. break it down into manageable steps, but make sure she has a place to PUT everything.

(sorry this got so long-winded)

2 moms found this helpful

My daughter has had difficulty cleaning her room also. Overwhelmed would be the best word to describe it. Something she started on her own is using a little white board (dry erase) and making a list of things to clean. She loves erasing things as they get done. Perhaps you could buy one 'especially' for her and have her write a short list (1-3)items on it each day and have her prioritize them as to what she thinks is more important. Since she is young, I would write down the things you want her to do and let her copy from your list what she will do each day. Good Luck. Don't sweat it and get some rest.

1 mom found this helpful

I can't offer you much advice. My 6 yr old has always been quite the neat freak but if she is helping you around the rest of the house maybe she would clean her room if you were up there helping her.."I'll start over here while you pick up the books" it might help. She's little and if her room is a big mess it might too much for her to handle on her own.
Congrats on the new arrival.

She's got a baby sister who does nothing all day, so she doesn't figure she has to clean! Maybe she does the rest of the house WITH YOU so it's fun. Or, Maybe she doesn't know how without you there.

First, scale back your standards. Figure out what is most important - that you be able to get from the door to the closet? That things not get broken? That clothes be hung up? Then make sure she has a low closet rod, or an organizer basket set or plastic totes or something. Put a picture of the category of items on the outside - dolls in one container, crayons in another, and so on. Try limiting the number of toys that are available at any one time - rotate them thru. She'll enjoy having less to manage, and each month when a new box rotates into the room, she'll be thrilled to see things she missed. Make it fun, not punishment.

Concentrate on 2 major areas and let the rest go. I mean, when she goes to college, you'll miss her, and will you really care that the room wasn't always clean. The critical thing is that everyone, including the animals, gets fed. An unmade bed, a kid who misses a bath once in a while, etc. - these are not battles you need to join in. You are exhausted, you have a newborn, and you need to get some rest and some quality time with your kids.

I don't keep any toys in my sons room. he has a play area and that is where we keep everything. Th eonly thing he has inhis room are books and stuffed animals.
He will help me clean the house and picks up his spills , but like your daughter will give me a hard time sometimes when it comes to cleaning his toys. I have gone through the play area and started to put toys in a garbage bag that he hasn't picked up and then I put the bag on th porch with the trash(seperate). It usually gets him to start cleaning. I also have him pick up certain colors or shapes and that gets him motivated by making it in a game.
He will also help make his bed and put his dirty clothes in the wash and his shoes away.
I'm not sure what your daughter has in her room but maybe if you took some of the stuff out it might help.
I knowhow hard it is to get kids to do stuff and I'm sure with the baby it makes it harder. But if she doesn't clean up you can start by taking stuff away.
Good luck

Close the door! I'm a neat freak, but if no one sees it and it's not a safety hazard, maybe you need to let it go and just do an end-of week pick-up?

Make it fun by putting big storage bins in her room and she can toss them in (Ikea makes great, inexpensive bins on wheels that we have everywhere!)

Otherwise, this may be the thing she wants to "own"-- her own space-- and you have to decide if it's worth the fight. My son loves to see all of his toys out ALL AT ONCE. If she's helping with the rest of the house, she's learning the value of cleaning up her things, which is important. I have found that what we thing of as "messy", little ones think of as "perfect"! She will likely be a creative soul!

I haven't used this but I know a lot of Moms who swear by housefairy.org. It might help or at least give you some good ideas.

Hi C.,
Congrats on your new bundle and congrats on staying on top of your older daughter's upbringing too. I agree with those who advise you to take away the toys and items she refuses to pick up. You could explain how wonderful it is that she helps everywhere else in the house, how much you as a family respect your home and items, it's an extension of loving each other. Talk about it how you and her dad (if he's in the picture) bought her the things she has out of love and taking care of her, and it's a sign of disrepsect not to take care of them. Even if you think she's too young to understand this stuff now it'll sink in as she gets older. Do it as she is watching, explain that if she won't take care of her things you understand that she just doesn't want them, because in your house you take care of things and listen to Mommy when she asks you to do something.

I don't know that I'd throw them in the trash just yet. I might say that as she improves in behaviour she might earn the items back one by one, and if she keeps her room up to standards she will continue earning the items.

Good luck!

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