The faces change, but the battle remains. No matter the era, decade or trend, parents continue to struggle to convince their children to clean their rooms. Beginning as early as kindergarten, kids cling to their personal space and claim it as untouchable. The desire for privacy and a safe haven only increases from pre-teen to teenager. And the struggle for neatness increases as well.
Make Cleaning a Bedroom Fun and Rewarding
Rather than raising the volume communicating the need to keep a bedroom clean, parents might try a few tactics rooted in strategy and reward. Try applying these techniques to get children to respond positively.
- Scavenger Hunt. This works best at a primary age but applies to pre-teens as well. Place clues in multiple areas in the room, forcing a clean-up to find them. As each clue is located, a different part of the room is returned to cleanliness, i.e. the bed, the closet, the dressers, etc. Let the prize be concealed in a box to be opened at the end of the hunt when the room is clean, but relate it will be worth the effort.
- Promise a slumber party or backyard camp-out. On average, boys will favor a camp-out and girls a slumber party. But friends will not be allowed into a room that is not neat and tidy.
- The traditional allowance. Allocate a certain percentage of a weekly allowance specifically for keeping a room clean. This applies to any age.
- Clothing, computer game or movie. Compromise on allowing the purchase of one specific item that a child has been pleading for if a bedroom is made presentable.
- Play take-away. When all else fails, remove a privilege temporarily, such as an iPod, a Wii, or whatever a child cherishes until a room is cleaned.
- Help organize. If the room has become cluttered and unmanageable, help put everything in its place by supplying a child with storage containers for books and shoes and toys. And don't forget labels for future clean-up.
Set an Example and Clean the Room First
Some parents may find themselves a bit too impatient to wait for their child's cooperation and take matters into their own hands. If so, simply follow the clean-up with a stern yet loving discussion of ways to keep a bedroom a comfortable, enjoyable and safe place.
Instructions should be clear and precise. Create a daily checklist, specific to a child's room, and place it on the child's door, such as the list below.
- Make bed
- Pick up toys
- Place dirty laundry in a basket
- Put away clean clothes
- Put away shoes
- Keep desk organized (if applicable)
- Keep school books/bags in tact
Parents should also remember to lead by example. Asking children to clean their rooms should be prefaced by parents maintaining tidy bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens. The end result may just be a sparkling clean home.