How to Encourage Teens to Clean Their Rooms

By Tanya Konerman
James Woodson/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Teenagers are notorious for their messy bedrooms: clothes strewn about, soiled dishes, food wrappers, wet towels and mystery “collections” are standard complaints from parents. It may be tempting to just close her bedroom door and walk away, but you can keep your sanity -- and help teach her about the responsibility that comes with the expanded freedoms of being a teen -- when you coach her to clean her room and keep it clean, all while still respecting her need for independence and control over her personal belongings.

Step 1

Establish a plan with your teen’s input for getting and keeping his room clean. This will allow him to feel less like a child who is being told what to do and more like and adult who is helping to make decisions. Also, with clear expectations, your teen has less room for argument.

Step 2

Help your teen focus on one task or area of the room at a time to keep the undertaking manageable. A full-sized messy room might seem overwhelming, but by showing her how to break the chore into smaller jobs, you can help her make her own decisions as to where to start and how to proceed.

Step 3

Teach your teen what exactly you mean by “clean” and walk him through it step by step the first time. Items on his weekly to-do list might include hanging clean clothes and putting dirty laundry in the hamper, dusting, vacuuming, carrying dirty dishes to the kitchen and washing them, emptying his trashcan and changing his sheets. Let him take control and responsibility after this initial lesson; be careful not to micromanage or nag him, which makes him feel he's lost control.

Step 4

Discuss with your teen how often you expect her to do each task -- whether once a week or more or less often -- and a deadline for finishing. Establish clear consequences for failure to comply, such as an earlier curfew or loss of car and weekend privileges. If none of these seem to work, dock her allowance in the amount it would cost to hire outside cleaning help, and be sure to let her see the bill -- it just might do the trick.

Step 5

Offer rewards for your teen's hard work and compliance on a weekly or monthly basis. Rewards can be monetary or more intangible, such as extra privileges, or a combination of both. Offer positive reinforcement and let him know you appreciate his hard work.

About the Author

Based in Bloomington, Ind., Tanya Konerman is a writer/editor with more than 20 years of experience. Her work has appeared in "At-Home Mother," "Parents," "Career Woman," "Employment News," "Bloomington Business Network," "Bloomington Monthly" and the "Herald-Times." She also worked in advertising and public relations for 10 years. Konerman holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and psychology from Indiana University.