Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

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

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?

It may be time to rethink things.  Don't let a messy room become the focal point of your whole relationship. Not only will constantly haranguing your teen about a messy room not work, but it could have other bad effects.

"Parents need to help their kids develop a positive self-image," says Wibbelsman. "And if all you're doing is shouting at your kid, calling him a slob who can't do anything right, that's not good."

So even if you're frustrated, try to keep some perspective. Wibbelsman says it's important to focus on your kids' strengths more than their faults.

"Tell your kids that you're proud of them," says Wibbelsman. "Tell them how pleased you are that they're doing well in school or on the basketball team." If you're working from a basis of respect and trust, you'll find it much easier to negotiate, Wibbelsman says.

"Then it's a lot easier to say, 'Could you also put your underwear in the hamper once in a while?'"

Want More Information on Keeping Your Family Healthy?

Sign up for WedMD's Parenting and Children's health newsletter to get tips and games that inspire healthy habits.

The Nastiest Places Your Kids Will Find

Find the germ traps, both inside and outside your home.
View slideshow