How to get your child to tidy their room

by Lauren Abbott

It's an old chestnut, but that standard phrase of "go and tidy your room", is often behind many a family argument.

"I think children and messy bedrooms go hand in hand," says Relate family counsellor Denise Knowles.

"As children get older, they start to assert themselves, and one of the ways they do that is to claim their territory.”

Kids = messy home!
Kids = messy home!

But if parents want their child to tidy a room, getting on their case and nagging may not be the best solution, as Denise points out that the more a parent goes on about something, the less likely a child may be to actually do it.

She recalls how, after many weeks of asking her own son to remove his things from her kitchen work surface, she eventually spread pots and pans from the kitchen all over his bed.

She cleaned up her mess when he cleaned up his and says the unusual tidying manoeuvre worked a treat.

"Parents need to find different ways of appealing to children and young people," she says, "and if we can use a bit of humour and be creative in the ways of approaching potential problems it can have more of an impact than mum or dad just having another go."

Parents need to appreciate that while tidiness is important to them, children and teenagers will have other, more pressing, things on their mind.

Untidy rooms are the cause of many arguments
Untidy rooms are the cause of many arguments

She suggests stages of warning before contemplating bagging the offending items into bin bags or even implementing some form of financial incentive. This could include allocating an amount of money for a child, then drawing up a chart and listing deductions for any tasks, such as tidying their room, that they don’t complete.

The child gets the money minus deductions at the end of the week.

"It means they still get something, but less if they don't do what they're asked to do" she explained.

We'd love to hear your tidy-up tips. Let us know below.

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