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Messy Rooms: Getting Your Kid to Clean Up continued...

Talk things over as a family. Altmann recommends that families get together to talk over household issues regularly -- maybe once a week. So use a regular meeting to go over the new policy for your teen's bedroom. Make sure that you understand each other and your teen's responsibilities are clear.

Negotiate. Rather than just making demands, see what you can offer to help your teen keep his room clean. "You can make deals," says Altmann. "For instance, if your teen agrees to bring his dishes down to the sink, you can agree to rinse them and put them in the dishwasher."

Give them more responsibility. If you're locked in a messy room battle, sometimes increasing your teen's responsibilities is the right idea. Maybe your teen's messy room aggravates you because you're always in there picking out the dirty laundry from the rubble. If that's the case, change the arrangement. Make your teen do her or her own laundry, Wibbelsman suggests. You remove the source of conflict, and your teen will better understand the consequences of his or her actions.

Don't snoop. Make sure your intentions are pure. Wibbelsman says that some parents use their outrage about messy rooms as cover for something else: snooping. Supposedly in the name of tidiness, they go through pockets, check beneath mattresses, and probe the dark corners of their teen's closets.

While a parent's desire to snoop is understandable, Wibbelsman says it should be resisted. Teenagers are on the verge of adulthood and they deserve some privacy. Once you start breaking their trust, he says, it can poison your whole relationship.

Take control. If your teen just refuses to do what you've agreed on, Altmann says you need to lay down the law. "Remember, you're the parent," she says. So tell your teen that you need a clean room -- or at least a cleaner one -- and give him or her a deadline. If your teen doesn't meet it, take away privileges.

Battle of the Bedroom

When it comes to messy teen bedrooms, many parents find themselves involved in a ferocious conflict without knowing how they got there. How did you suddenly become that parent, the stock figure of teen comedies who's always screeching at the kids about their messy rooms?

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