15 answers

Teenager with a Dirty Room

I have a 12 yr old (soon to be 13). It is a constant batter for her to keep her room clean. I'm too the point now where I just want to throw stuff away so there's less to mess up. Over time I have learned to live with it because it is just a room. Any ideas?

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Don't clean her room. She is old enough to clean her own room. If she doesn't, close the door so you don't have to look at it. If she runs out of something to wear because her clothes are all over the floor of her room, make her do her own laundry. Do not pick up after her. Do not nag. Let her take responsibility for actions or you are not preparing her for life. I stopped cleaning my children's rooms when they were 8-10 years old. They knew how to use a vacuum cleaner and such. It 's their room right? AF

More Answers

Hi L.:

I have a 13-year-old daughter and am experiencing the same thing. Between school and activities, she just rushes around and doesn't have time to get to it.

She's a good student and a good kid (helps me watch her two siblings while I'm working), so I like to help her out with her room. ONce a week or so, I'll go in and straighten it very well. Still - in between...it does get very messy and I don't have time or desire to do it for her. And I think it's important for kids to learn responsibilities of being part of a family.

However, she doesn't view the "messy" room or the need to clean it in the same way I do. If I just say "Clean your room" - I get "it is clean" or "I don't have time." I think it's differences in perception and priorities.

So, I've found it helpful to write her very specific notes that I leave for her when she gets home. "Put dirty laundry in basket." "Put soccer clothes in your soccer bag." "Pick up the hair pins you left in the bathroom."

I also try to set basic ground rules and addresss those regularly so it doesn't become an overwhelming task or battle. For example, wet towels always get hung up immediately. Trash is always put in the trash can. Food isn't eaten in the room, but if it is - put dishes in kitchen immediately after.

If I ask her to do just the one or two things that REALLY need to be done that day, I find it gets done.

Beyond that...when the room truly is more than I can deal with, I shut the door and try to remind myself how lucky I am to have a mess that's created by a beautiful, healthy, happy, busy, loving child!

Best wishes,

D. Rice
Editor, Piedmont Family Magazine
www.piedmontfamilymagazine.com

1 mom found this helpful

I had the same problem with my 16 year old daughter. Had, being the operative word. It dawned on me one day that the most effective way to deal with this situation at this point, (after several years of battles, attempts at reasoning, awarding an allowance for cleanliness), was to go into her room one day while she was at school, find something she loved and destroy it, not saying a word about it.

I saw her treasured and very expensive lap top (a present from her grandmother) on the floor under a pile of dirty clothes, instead of being in the computer case where it belonged. I accidently stepped on it, and cracked the screen. OOOPPPSSSS! I said nothing to her.

About 2 weeks later (yes, it took her 2 weeks to dig her lap top out from the pile of dirty clothes), my daughter comes to me, very upset, and says "Mom, I don't know what happened, but my lap top is broken." Exhibiting extreme motherly concern, I asked her how she thought that may have happened. She said she had no idea, then I asked where it was. She said on the floor of her bedroom under a pile of clothes. So then we both surmised that she or one of her friends must have stepped on it without realizing it. I then told her that had it been in the computer case, whatever happened to it probably would not have happened. She couldn't argue.

Now my daughter is faced with two problems, 1. she'll have to save enough money to purchase a new lap top (before she goes off to college next fall), and 2. find a way to tell her grandmother that her lap top is broken.

Oh, by the way, her room has never been cleaner since that awful day of disclosure. It's now been 3+ months...

Unfortunately sometimes kids have to learn things the hard way. You know what your child responds to better than anyone else, but sometimes tough lessons can be very effective. As we all know, girls can be very stubborn, so being a step ahead of her will serve both of you well.

1 mom found this helpful

Don't clean her room. She is old enough to clean her own room. If she doesn't, close the door so you don't have to look at it. If she runs out of something to wear because her clothes are all over the floor of her room, make her do her own laundry. Do not pick up after her. Do not nag. Let her take responsibility for actions or you are not preparing her for life. I stopped cleaning my children's rooms when they were 8-10 years old. They knew how to use a vacuum cleaner and such. It 's their room right? AF

The best thing to do is go the "tough love" route. Give her 3 warnings on different days. Buy a 10 box supply of office storage boxes. The 4th day go into her room and box up all the things that are out of place. Leave some things.
Tell her that each day you go into her room and see it all in order that she gets a box back, which MUST be put away immediately or the second time the stuff goes into the trash!!
It may take going to that second step. Let her see it in the trash, but then hide it away, even if you have to store it at a friend's for a few days while your daughter will be MOST unhappy with you.
Then break the news to her that not all is gone--return the box. Order may not last long, but it should last a few weeks.
Grandma N.

My own children are still very small, but I was a teenager who liked to have a messy room (sometimes I would even mess it up on purpose). I think I needed it as an outlet for rebellion. Fortunately, that was as rebellious as I got! In hindsight, I am glad that my mom didn't get on my case about it, as it was a minor offense in the big picture, and sometimes you need to pick your battles for the important stuff. That being said, I put true trash in the trash (food, used tissues, etc). That's where I would draw the line, but otherwise I think it's ok for teens to be messy. Like another comment said, I am also a bit of a clean freak now! Good luck!

Hi, L., Don't sweat the small stuff. If the worst problem you have is a messy room, count your lucky stars! Teenagers have to rebel somehow. As long as it isn't dirty dishes, or something else really gross that could affect health or safety - let it go. You can always just require she keep the door shut. Good luck!

I don't have a teenager yet but I've been to a few parenting seminars and have learned that if you want the room clean, it should be cleaned. You set the rules. Also I learned to let children suffer consequences. An idea is to collect everything on the floor into a plastic bag and put the bag 'away'. If the room is kept clean for a week the items will be returned.

Unfortunately many preteens go through this phase. I am currently fighting this same battle with my 12 year old daughter. It is compounded by the fact that she shares a room with her 6 year old sister. I honestly, just continue to remind her that she needs to keep her living space clean. We also have consequences for clean clothes brought down with dirty laundry, which has at least affected the change that her clean laundry makes it to the drawers. I would try charging her for cleaning services if the room is messy at the end of the day or week. It has worked for us. We charge them 25% of their allowance if I have to go in there to find the floor.

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