Making the Impossible Possible: Getting Your Tween or Teen to Clean Their Room

Your little baby is not a baby anymore. He/she is becoming a new person: a big, eye-rolling, hormonal tween/teenager. Tweens, and certainly teenagers, crave personal space and privacy.  Communicating with their BFF is the new focus. For many teens, a clean room and sometimes even personal hygiene go out the window.

You want their room to be clean but all you get is a whole lot of “talk-to-the-hand” attitude. From your perspective, they live in your house, they don’t pay the bills, so it seems only fair that they keep their bed made and their clothes off the floor; but even that can be too much for a reluctant teenager to handle.

Expecting your teenager to keep their room neat and clean all the time might be wishful thinking, but there are ways to meet in the middle and make everyone happy. Here are some suggestions for helping teens and tweens keep their room clean:

·         Lower your expectation that their bedroom be spotless. You might be blessed with a tidy teenager, but for most of us, being able to see some of the floor would be an improvement

·         Set the expectations and tie them to a reward system or allowance. Teenagers are driven by social media and telecommunication. If the room is not kept to your minimum standard, take away the allowance money, cell phone, or PC until clean-up is done. Works like a charm.

·         Conversely, incentivize them about cleaning and personal hygiene. Reward them for extra cleaning chores with movie or concert tickets or something they value.

·         Have them do their own laundry. They’ll appreciate and take care of their clothes better and won’t be able to blame you for the “stuff” that’s missing.

·         Show them your method for folding laundry, but if it isn’t always perfect, insist that clothing is at least put away on shelves in a closet, bins or drawers. If you are buying their clothes, make sure you don’t buy too many, otherwise you could be contributing to the mess.

·         Teenagers are notorious for not making their beds. Use only a fitted sheet and a comforter that has a duvet cover on it. All they need to do is tidy up that comforter in the morning (no fussing with sheets and blankets) and the bed looks made!

·         Give them a break. Learn to close your eyes and the bedroom door sometimes. Keep in mind that their minds and bodies are changing and their hormones are throwing them for a loop. When they have a bad day, are emotional over a breakup or become overloaded with homework, cut them some slack and offer to help them organize and cleanup up their space.


As annoying as a messy teen may be, the good news is that this stage is temporary! Try to meet them half-way and set standards that are achievable and that you both feel good about.


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