In preparation for dorm life and independent living in adulthood, teens should learn how to keep their environment neat, tidy and clean. Parents can start teaching their children how to clean up after themselves as young as age 2, according to HealthyChildren.org, a website of the American Academy of Pediatrics. By the time kids reach their teenage years, they should be fairly proficient in basic housekeeping practices. As a parent, it's a good idea to establish a routine for housekeeping in your home.
Teens should not only know how cook for themselves and others, but should also be able to effectively clean up after they cook a meal. When cooking for others, it might be appropriate for your teen to solicit a little help with cleaning the kitchen; however, your teen should be able and willing to clean up on her own. Teens should get into the habit of clearing the sink of dishes after a meal, thoroughly wiping down counter tops and sweeping debris from the kitchen floor. They should also place their leftover foods in sealed containers and put them away in the refrigerator instead of just leaving that for someone else to do.
Sociologist and happiness expert Dr. Christine Carter says that making your bed each day improves productivity and increases happiness. Carter explains that it isn't solely the act of making your bed that makes you feel happier; rather, the fact that you accomplish this task can help you feel good about yourself and seek to accomplish more. Present this idea to your teen when he argues that there's no point in making his bed since he's only going to mess it up later in the day. In addition to making his bed, a good housekeeping practice your teen can use is to put clothes in drawers, closets or hampers to keep them off the floor. Teens should also remove food from their bedrooms immediately after eating something to prevent visits from unwanted bugs and rodents, and an accumulation of mold-filled dishes.
Rings around the tub, hair left in the sink and stains in a toilet bowl make a person think twice about wanting to use a bathroom -- not to mention the health hazards that this type of environment presents. By the time your child reaches adolescence, she should clean the tub or shower once she's finished bathing. In addition to setting aside at least one day each week to complete a thorough bathroom cleaning, teens should also maintain bathroom cleanliness by removing any debris they accumulate in the toilet, sink or on the bathroom floor.
In high school and certainly in college, teens should be able to do their own laundry. Parents can initiate this practice by having young children help sort laundry and by teaching preteens how to use different water temperatures for various pieces of clothing -- along with teaching them to differentiate between fabric softener and bleach -- to adequately prepare them for independent living later in adulthood. If your teen believes you should be responsible for her laundry, give her some time to consider this idea while she slowly runs out of clean clothing to wear. When you do your teen's laundry for her, you are not empowering her to properly take care of herself.