Partly Cloudy   61.0F  |  Forecast »

Teens and Messy Rooms: Tips on What Parents Can Do

Is your kid's room ready to be declared a disaster zone? Here is some advice on how moms and dads can help get them – and that bedroom – in order

So, your teen is a slob. Join the club! My oldest is a quintessential pack rat – although his piles are not neatly distributed in a small hole. My son claims he knows where everything is in that nightmare he calls a room. He says that if I move something, he won't be able to find it.

Find it? You couldn't find an elephant in that mire!

When it looks as if an F5 tornado has struck your teen's room and you're exasperated beyond measure, sometimes it's easier just to close the door. However, this might not be the best solution, because this doesn't help your teen to learn how to organize his clutter. Charging in to clean it yourself, or simply ignoring the mess, won't make the problem go away.

Getting perspective

Dr. Robert Epstein, former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today and author of TEEN 2.0: Saving Our Children and Families from the Torment of Adolescence, says, "Teens are young adults, not children. Picture your teen as a young boarder in your home. How would you treat him or her if he or she were a slob?

"You wouldn't take away the iPod or car keys; you would negotiate and try to stay calm. You might draw a line indicating where his or her messy territory stops."

Get to the root of the problem

Sometimes it's just an inability to purge memorabilia or a simple case of laziness. Or it may be a personality trait or an actual disability inhibiting his ability to organize. How bad is it?

If there is a "department of health" issue, with used string-cheese wrappers growing mold in his book bag or ants nesting in old candy wrappers under the radiator, an overhaul is necessary.

Is the state of his room and belongings affecting his life in a negative way? If your teen's goals, commitments or grades are suffering due to his mess, then it's time to insist on change.

Starting the change

Chances are he may need help, but it's important for him to take ownership of this overhaul. Help him realize that the mess is making things more difficult for him.

Many teens don't know where to begin, and their tendency to be impulsive doesn't help either. Set realistic expectations – and don't expect that he won't have setbacks or need reminders.

Initial clean up should be done in stages. He can start with the floor; then move to the closet on another day. If the task is in manageable pieces, it will be less daunting.

Long-term ways parents can help

"Be a great role model," Epstein suggests. "Show them how to do it. Sometimes it's helpful to take them shopping for organizational aids, such as storage cubes or shelves. Always watch for any signs, even small signs, of neatness – and praise and reward like crazy."

Encourage responsibility in your teen, too. If your teen loses a pair of sneakers, have him purchase a new pair with his own money. Avoid rushing to his rescue when his lack of organization gets him into trouble. If he has to fix his own mistakes, he will be less apt to repeat them.

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Passport Rules for Kids

Passport Rules for Kids

If you're planning on traveling with your family outside of the country, they'll need a passport. Find out what you need and how to get passports for children.

Tips for Saving Cash on Flights

Tips for Saving Cash on Flights

Find out how your family can save money when flying abroad and in the country.

Tips for Traveling Internationally with Your Children

Tips for Traveling Internationally with Your Children

Thought about taking your kids for a trip abroad? You should! Here are tips to help make your cultural excursion easier – and cheaper – than you might think.

Staying Home Alone: How to Know When Your Child is Ready

Staying Home Alone: How to Know When Your Child is Ready

Whether you just want to run an errand or need to hit the gym for a break, it could be time to let your tween stay home alone. Here are a few ways to know your kid is prepared.

Craft Roundup: Get Ready for the Beach

Craft Roundup: Get Ready for the Beach

Whether you're hitting the pool or lake, southeast Michigan is packed with watery summer fun. These projects are inspired by (and ready for) this very topic!

Social Savvy: Raising Kids Who Can Make Connections

Social Savvy: Raising Kids Who Can Make Connections

At each stage of development, there are things parents can do for their kids to help them with social skills and making friendships.

Explore the Grand Canyon in Arizona

Explore the Grand Canyon in Arizona

If you haven't seen the wonder that is the Grand Canyon, you owe it to yourself and your kids to go.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement