Stop Fighting Over Dirty Rooms
Amidst a thick blanket of discarded clothes, school papers and dirty dishes is your teen’s bedroom floor. It may be months since you’ve seen it, but it’s there somewhere. Despite the nonstop requests to clean his room, your teen seems to prefer to live in filth and revel in hearing the exasperation choked in your voice as you ask him once again, to clean his room. Most parenting experts wholeheartedly agree that anger, hollow threats and non-stop nagging don’t seem to work, but the jury is still out on what actually will work. Parents throughout the ages agree, sometimes you have to choose your battles, so here are four reasons to give up the battle of convincing your teen to clean her room and let her learn the importance of tidying up on her own:
Reason #1: They’ll Tire of the Mess
Sure the bed is unmade, the duvet covers are strewn everywhere and laundry is littering the floor, but what’s the harm in letting it pile up a little longer? Just let the mess accumulate and eventually they’ll get tired of it and clean up. Don’t have the patience to wait that long? Dr. Douglas Riley, a clinical psychologist from Newport News, VA, suggests a more humorous approach. He recently told the Wall Street Journal about a family he worked with whose teenage daughter refused to clean her room, suggesting: “That since she wasn’t bothered by the dirty clothes all over her floor, perhaps the whole family could start using her room as a laundry hamper.” Within just a few days of her father and brother’s sweat-soaked, dirty clothes, the young girl finally caved and cleaned her room. Sometimes a healthy dose of his or her own medicine is all that your teen needs to get the job done!
Reason #2: Precious Items Will Get Lost
It’s pretty tough to keep track of your favorite sweater or iPad in a room where you can’t even see the carpet. Sooner or later, your child won’t be able to locate his or her most prized possessions and he or she will begin to understand the value of being organized and putting everything in its place. To hurry this process along, consider taking some of this stuff and hiding it. When your child realizes what’s gone, give him or her the opportunity to earn his or her things back by cleaning his or her room and doing extra chores around the house.
Reason #3: The Consequences Will Catch Up With Them
One day, your son may be late to school and miss an important test because he can’t find his shoes or homework. Those piles of dirty dishes caked with leftover food in your daughter’s room will invite a parade of ants. Or perhaps your teen will twist an ankle navigating the mess and miss an important sports match. One way or another, the consequences will catch up with them.
Reason #4: Develop a Deeper Understanding
Clinical psychologist Michael Bradley, Ph.D., recently spoke to Good Housekeeping on this subject, stating: “Parents take the disarray personally, and react with anger — even shame and fear.” Instead of having an emotional response, try to understand where your teen is coming from. Bradley noted: “Keeping a tidy room just isn’t on the adolescent’s radar. It’s not important to them.” This lapse in teen judgment may be attributed to something more than stubborn behavior, the latest neurobiology research shows the still-developing frontal lobe as a possible explanation. The frontal lobe is responsible for planning, organizing and focusing on tasks, all disciplines typically necessary to keep your environment neat and tidy. There’s still hope that one day, the mess will be but a memory.
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