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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 03-Feb-09


Tuesday 03-February-09

How to get teenagers to tidy their room

Now there's a question. How do you get a teenager to tidy up the mess that is laughingly called their bedroom. Many teens seem to get a slob disease where, even if they are smartly turned out, their accommodation resembles a pigsty. And some people never really recover and live in happy chaos, even taking the principle to work.

So what can you, who likes things tidy, do about this sorry state of affairs? Asking nicely may only get passive-aggressive agreement but without compliance. And getting angry may just provoke an argument with the only result being more stress.

Something I've done to good effect is to give quiet warning then do an indiscriminate tidy-up with a bin-bag. Aversion to a repeat of this invasion and loss can motivate cleaning up by themselves. And of course praise when they do always helps.

Some recent research suggests an interesting approach. When college students were exposed to a faint smell of a cleaning fluid of some kind, they were more likely to tidy up of their own accord. Hmm! It would be easy to try this out. If you have a messy teenager, partner or colleague, you could experiment with various smells to see if find out what works for them. Maybe also you could see you could try other smells for other purposes -- will the whiff of expensive perfume lead to romance? One might hope so.

Your comments

I have an 18year old boy from Canada staying with me for a gap year. It appears his room at home is a real mess with stuff all over the floor, drawers hanging open, dirty laundry everywhere etc. This is how he started over here but we set some ground rules - he must clear the floor once a week of all clutter, then vacuum the rug and wash the floor. He must change his bed linen once a week and he must do all of his own laundry.

In between his bed is never made, the floor is a mess and dirty clothes lie all over the place ( he has a laundry basket!!!) but as long as he keeps to the basic rules we can mitigate the likelihood of infestation!

I appreciate he does what I ask him because he knows he has to or I may send him home and no doubt when he goes back home he will revert to type, I have come to the conclusion that young people are like this because we let them - when the chips are down they will toe the line,

-- Ann

Dave replies:
Yes indeed, as in much of life, we seek boundaries and children are particularly good at testing them to make sure they are there. But once they realize the boundaries are fixed, they'll happily accept them, though there can be quite a battle before they do. In fact they are often happier with boundaries as it makes them feel more secure.

So well done for setting his limits and sticking to them.

take a picky of their room and send it to their facebook friends etc-usually does the trick

-- phil

Dave replies:
You may have to hold your breath whilst you take the pic!

Make the teens tidy their rooms themselves but don't bug them to much or they will not do it at all. <3 :) ;p

-- Charlie

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