Bugs, Dishes, and other Fungi

When the kids are young it is fun to make a game of cleaning up their rooms. You can sit on the floor with them and they will be excited to play with you while organizing their room. As they get older (12 years to 16 years of age), the challenge in getting them to clean their room is a real struggle.

Teens and pre-teens are looking for ways to be independent and stretch the boundaries. Often that includes a “Danger Zone” sign on their bedroom door. Although it looks like a health hazard, it probably won’t make anyone sick. It probably bothers the parent a lot more than the youth. Teaching teens to clean their rooms is part of learning adult habits.

What can you do?
Can you smell your teen’s room from down the hall? Food that has been left to crust, dirty socks, jeans, sporting equipment, and shoes can leave odors that could be a breeding place for bacteria. Damp clothes left on floor, continually wearing clothes that are retrieved from anywhere but the drawers or closet can cause a rash, jock itch, and other fungus to develop.

Does screaming, pleading, whining, or bribes work? You could wait it out for them to mature and change their ways, hope that the years fly by, or you can set standards and expectations.

  • How often does the room need to be “clean”?
  • What does “clean” mean exactly? Spell it out-teens find a way of going around the definition. You didn’t say that.
  • Does organization count?
  • Do you care if books are on the floor vs dirty dishes under the bed?
  • What are the top 4 things you want done? Too long of a list will overwhelm your teen and nothing will get done.
  • If your teen will wash their own clothes, then you won’t go in their room and pick clothes off the floor.
  • Show respect. Don’t snoop through their room. Teen need their space.

Standards should include specifics-no dirty dishes in room, wet clothes in hamper, and trash in wastebasket are a few non-negotiables.

Being a teenager is not easy with school pressure, peer pressure, developing their individuality, and trying to figure out how to not be an adult, but not a child either. They need to make some of their own decisions, with both positive and negative consequences and own it.

Love your Teen
Focus on the positive results that you see, and not the negative behaviors. One young adult recently shared that all the pleading by his mom didn’t motivate him. What got him to change the cleanliness of his room was peer pressure. “I don’t want my friends coming over to the house and seeing my room a mess!”

Do people look at your desk and wonder how you can be organized? Do you know where everything is? Teens feel the same way about their personal space. They know where everything is and don’t want you to touch it!

Trust and love go a long way!



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