If a glance into your tween’s room reveals a neat, clean and organized sanctuary then there is no need for you to read on. If however, you are a parent of tween who’s room looks more like a battle field than a place to rest and relax it may give you some solace to know that you are far from alone.
When your children reach their tween years sometimes the first thing to change is their rooms. As they strive for self-expression they take a greater interest in personalizing their personal space. Your obedient, organized child may seemingly transform over night into a well, a slob. Middle school brings more work, work often bring more papers and folders and binders. The floor or a pile on a desk may look like as good as a place as any to store all this stuff.
Maybe your tween has become more invested in his outward appearance resulting in a recent amassing of clothes. During the tween years it is not uncommon for kids to grow quickly, this can also translate into the need for more clothes as your tween quickly goes from one size to the next. While you would probably prefer he store all of his clothes neatly folded in his drawers, the floor or the closet may look like as good a place as any to put them.
If you are tired of redirecting, nagging and/or on occasion yelling about the unsettled state of your tween’s room, it may be time to take appropriate action. Here are some helpful hints on how to address this common challenge.
1.) Define Clean. While you may assume your tween understands what you mean when you tell him to clean his room, in reality what you are looking for may get lost in translation. In order to avoid unnecessary arguments be clear and concise when explaining what you mean by clean. Your version may entail neatly folding and stacking clothes and other items while your tween may believe that shoving everything in the closet makes his room look clean.
2.) Establish specific rules and consequences. Work with your tween to come up with the rules and consequences regarding her room. Agree on a specific day and time by which her room should be clean. Have her suggest an appropriate consequence if she does not meet this deadline. You may want to suggest for example, that she cannot go anywhere until her room is cleaned.
3.) No nagging usually gets the job done faster. Don’t let your own anxiety get the best of you. It is important to give your tween a chance to follow through on the system you have set up together. Constantly reminding her that she needs to clean her room or face the consequences is a natural turn off. In fact it may have the opposite affect on your tween; she may avoid doing the job, or, at least wait until the last minute just to spite you. If you really can’t help yourself, when establishing the ‘clean room rule’ incorporate the right to offer a few reminders as part of the deal. Explain to your tween this will make you feel better. If you however, establish a set number of times you are allowed to remind her, she will be less likely to get annoyed. Be sure to stick to your end of the bargain.
4.) Take the emotion out of situation. Once the rule and consequence is established, the consequence should automatically be instituted if the rule is broken. If for example, the rule states that his room is to be clean at 8PM on Wednesday and at 8:01PM his room looks like a tsunami hit, simply remind him of the consequence and let it go. If he begins to argue, do not engage him. Even if he argues or yells, try not to respond in kind. Later on when things have calmed down, sit down and discuss with him what happened. Re-remind him that he was part of the rule and consequence process.
5.) Positive reinforcement is the key to keeping it clean. If your tween successfully follows through on keeping it clean, be sure to validate her. A little bit of positive reinforcement can go a long way. Validating her efforts will not only make her feel good but it will also make you feel good.
6.) Consistency is the key to success. In order to ensure follow thru, you must keep it consistent. If the rule indicates that you regularly check his room, you must keep up your end of the process. If he does not follow the rule you must consistently implement the consequence.
7.) If it’s not working; re-group. Sometimes even though you have followed the process thru, developed rules and implemented the consequences consistently, it just isn’t working. If your tween is truly unable to clean her room the way you had discussed, it may be time to step out of the box and come up with a different solution. Some tweens for example, have difficulty following through on such a large tasks because it seems so overwhelming. You may need to break the chore down into pieces. Try for example, requiring her to pick up the clothes off the floor one day, and clean up her desk another. Regardless of how you decide to approach the problem the point is that, re-looking at a different way to solve it is far better than constantly having to institute consequences.
Keeping her room clean may seem like such a small thing to ask. Depending on your tween however, it may be a larger challenge than you realize. When you work with your tween to be successful in the seemingly simple things, you encourage him to feel good about his capabilities. In turn this confidence can often translate to larger challenges.