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Children's Health

Teen Minds: What Are They Thinking?

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Scene 4: Mom or Dad tells the kid to clean his/her room, but later finds the teen's stuff shoved into a dark corner of the closet.

What the parents may be thinking: We can't stand the way she keeps her room. Doesn't she care that we like to have a nice, neat house? It's so disrespectful!

What the teen may be thinking: I'm too busy -- I don't have time to clean my room! It's mine anyway, so why should they care?

There are many different approaches to this conflict, Elkind says. One is to tell the kid, "Ok, it's your room. If you want to leave it a mess, that's up to you." Another tactic, which he acknowledges may not work for every parent or child, is to say, "Look, I'll help you clean up your room if you help me clean up mine." That way it at least becomes a joint project and a chance to have a little conversation. "Sometimes that kind of sharing of a task takes some of the onus off of a chore," he says.

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