Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

Search This Site

How To Get Kids To Clean Their Bedrooms Without a Power-Struggle

Most moms and dads are challenged with getting their kids to clean up their bedrooms. One way to shift this struggle is to realize that it is important to the mother or father BUT NOT to the youngster to have a clean bedroom.

When you are willing to change the experience of cleaning from a power-struggle with associated rewards and punishments to a pleasant experience associated with fun, love and connection, children are more likely to cooperate, sensing how good it feels to actually have everything in its place. They then take into their adulthood an inner desire to live in a clean, organized environment rather than associating “cleaning” with a dreaded chore to avoid at all costs.

Here are some suggestions for making clean bedrooms possible -- and defusing the power struggles:

1. Advance your youngster's privileges as he takes more responsibility for keeping his bedroom clean. Let your youngster know that if he keeps his room clean, it'll show he's mature enough to handle more privileges.

2. Avoid making negative statements like, “You’re such a slob” …or… “Your room looks like a pigsty.” Use an upbeat, positive tone of voice and tell him how pleased you were with the job he did last time he cleaned his room.

3. Cleaning a bedroom can be a lonely task, and for the social youngster, it may feel like a torture instead of a way to help the family. Thus, put together “cleaning team.” Working together will make the jobs go faster. Your youngster helps you clean your areas of responsibility, and then you help him clean his bedroom.

4. Every one of your youngster's toys should have a well defined space. Take the time to show her where each item goes, then have her repeat back to you what you've told her. This will make it much easier for your youngster to do her job on a daily basis.

5. Give your youngster regular feedback on how he's performing. Let her know on a regular basis that she's doing a good job cleaning her room. If not, let her know how she could be doing better. Make sure she knows the proper steps it takes to complete the jobs you've asked her to do. If not, show her again.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

6. Involve the whole family in the cleaning process, and play some upbeat music while the family cleans to make it a special occasion.

7. Keep your expectations very low. Few children have clean bedrooms. They like them dirty because it's the only place where they have control over their environment. For some children, a dirty bedroom is a badge of honor.

8. Lead by example. Keep the rest of your house as clean as possible to set an example for your youngster.

9. Plan a special activity for the family to celebrate a successful day of cleaning. It's not really bribery—it's just good politics!

10. Set up a reward system. Some moms and dads give their youngster a weekly allowance for cleaning her room. This is an excellent way to teach your youngster how to manage money. You may want to consider giving a daily allowance rather than a weekly one. The immediate reward is often more motivating than a delayed one. As soon as the work is complete, give your youngster his daily allowance – and you'll have a very eager little room cleaner on your hands. To a youngster, a week can seem like an eternity. He's more likely to lose his motivation before he gets paid.

11. Teach your youngster how to clean his bedroom by incorporating him into your own cleaning.

12. To bring some clarity to the cleaning process, have your child separate the job into straightening and cleaning. Straighten first – then clean.

13. Turn cleaning into a game. Challenge your youngster to see how quickly the two of you can clean his room. Let him know the sooner his room is clean, the sooner he can go outside and play. Challenge him to see if he can do it in 10 minutes or less. Set the timer, turn on the music, and start cleaning!

14. When you make a chore list for your youngster, always take his age and development into consideration. A 4-year-old can get the books back on the shelf and the clothes in the hamper, but he may not be able to make his bed to your specifications. A 7-year-old can do his own laundry with some supervision. Remember, your expectations will change as your youngster matures.

15. Lastly, be clear about what you mean by a “clean bedroom.” Develop a “clean bedroom checklist” and have your child check off the items as they are completed. Using the checklist will help you define your expectations, and it will help your youngster organize his time and remember his tasks. Also, you'll have an easy, stress-free way to check if things have been done. However, keep the checklist small (better to have too few things on the list than too many). Here's a sample checklist for bedroom cleaning:
  • Clean the floor. Sweep, or move furniture aside and vacuum. Don't forget to vacuum the dust from under the bed.
  • Clear the desk. Organize the desk so that homework and books are accessible. Throw away old clutter and scrap paper. Empty the wastepaper basket. Put the (now full) trash bag in the trash can or dumpster.
  • Clear the garbage and clutter. Return all dirty dishes to the kitchen, and wash them. 
  • Remove cobwebs from the ceiling and corners with a broom covered with your dust rag or the vacuum cleaner. Scrub the bad spots off walls with spray and a rag. Make sure all posters are still securely attached.
  • Straighten and dust surfaces (dresser, bedside table, vanity, shelves, and so on). You do this surface by surface—clear the surface of objects, dust, and return objects neatly. 
  • Put away all books, DVDs, CDs, computer programs. Library books go in a pile near the door ready to be returned. DVDs, CDs, and so on, all need to be in their proper boxes, and then put away. 
  • Put away the toys and the fragments of toys.
  • Strip the bed and put the sheets and pillowcases in the hamper. Remake the bed with clean sheets.
  • Tackle the clothes. Fold the clean ones or put them on hangers, and put them away in an organized fashion. Put the dirty clothes in the hamper. Put all shoes in the closet in an organized fashion.

With a bit of positive reinforcement and creativity, you can motivate your youngster to keep his bedroom clean. Now, if only you can motivate your husband! But that's material for a completely different blog post.


==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Hutten, how are you?

Thank you for your email and advice.

My daughter's room was so far quite neat and tidy. Things changed when she turned 15 last year. I was surprised to find her room so messy. She said, "yes, I know it is not normal. But it is perfect!"

All my friends said, just close the door...

from Sydney, Australia

Join Our Facebook Support Group

Contact Form


Email *

Message *

Online Parenting Coach - Syndicated Content