How to Get Your Child to Clean Her Room

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Do you have trouble getting your child to clean her room? I do too.  In fact, yesterday, I went to open up the door to my older girls’ room and I could not open the door but a crack. There was so much STUFF up against the door that I literally could not open it up!  When I went to discuss this with my girls, they both confessed to me that if we could just move and get them a bigger room, they would promise to keep it clean!

 I am still shaking my head in amazement.  We have tried a bunch of strategies to try to make some progress on the room issue.  None of these strategies have worked, and so I called my grandmother for some wisdom and advice on the subject.

 Start Them Young

 It’s best to start instilling good habits in children when they are younger. Teach them to put away their toys after they are done playing.  Hopefully, the cleaning routine will become a habit.  Even my grandmother acknowledges though that some children are just cleanliness challenged.

 Chart It

 Chore charting helps if you have a child who is overwhelmed with the thought of cleaning.  You can either purchase a chart or you can create one yourself.  Either way, the chart should break down the cleaning chore into small tasks.  For example, one step might be to pick up the clothes off the floor.  The next step might be to put the dirty clothes in the hamper.  The goal is to have the child work through the chart each day.  Eventually, the hope is that the steps will become routine, and your child won’t need the chart anymore. 

I recommend creating your own chart because you can individualize the chart.  Use a folder or other sturdy type of paper for the chart and cover it with clear contact paper.  This makes your chart virtually indestructible.  Charts can be hung on the inside door of the child’s room.

 Reduce the Clutter

 Every so often in our house, I set the timer and ask my children to go through their rooms and find at least 10 broken or unwanted items.  Broken items are discarded.  Unwanted items are saved for our neighborhood yard sale, or given away to charity. 

 This has reduced the amount of “stuff” in their rooms considerably.  I’ve found that the less “stuff” they have to take care of, the less mess they have to clean!  This means less stress for everyone.

 Pick Your Battles

 The truth of the matter is that I have different standards than my children do.  I also need to keep in mind that my oldest two have handicaps and that this really does affect their ability to complete daily tasks.

 Does this mean that it is ok for their room to be an absolute mess? No.  I find myself asking some questions now before I intervene and get upset.  In the grand scheme of things, is this worth getting upset over? Should I obsess about this or let it go?  When I can not open up the door because the room is that messy and they can not find clean clothes to wear to school-yes, it is worth getting upset about.  When the room is slightly mess and dusty-I can shut the door and just walk away.

 Reward Good Behavior

 Recently, my children asked for a new item for their room for decoration.  The answer was an honest no.  If you can’t take care of the things that you already have, you can not have anything new to decorate (read clutter) the room until you can take care of the things that you already do have decorating the room.  

 My grandmother ended our conversation with some very wise advice: one day your children will be grown and the house will be clean and quiet.  One day they will leave and will manage their own homes quite well and you will be amazed! Until that day comes, enjoy every precious second you have with them.


Mei says:

I have a seven year old that refuses to clean his room. I have time and time again worked with him to clean it and we successfully get it done. I worked out a chart for him to do his daily chores in his room and that worked for about a week. He is A.D.D. and it is very difficult to explain to him most times of why we need to clean up after ourselves. Most times during discusions about it, he will make the comment of, “If you don’t like it mom then you clean it. I am not doing it.” My normal response of this is, “Well, I am sorry you feel that way, but you are not mom so your going to clean this room no matter what.” It usually does not work. I am tired of arguing now and it has been 3 weeks since I have cleaned his room and it is the worst yet. He does not care and I am really starting to not care too much myself. I now have more on my plate than previous years with a 9 month old and another on the way. Not to mention my 50 hour work week. IF ANYONE HAS ANY ADVISE, PLEASE SHARE. MEI

Michelle says:

So sorry to hear of all of this Mei. It is frustrating. I have an ADD child myself–I share your pain.

With an ADD child, it’s best to try to keep toys, clothes etc to a minimum if nothing else works. I find with my child, the more “stuff” she has, the more overwhelming it is. She simply can’t organize it all.

I’d ask your child to clean his room and say you are giving him an hour. After that hour, tell him that you are starting a rule because you are tired of the arguing and the messy room–if you find anything not cleaned up, it goes. At the end of the day, the stuff that is not cleaned up goes into a container.

The goal is not to be cruel, but to show your child that there are consequences to not cleaning. Another goal of this is to try to find out what a manageable amount of toys and clothes would be for your son. In other words, what amount of things can he have and still keep his room clean?

Then, gradually add more back very slowly until he’s able to handle it. You’ll find where the balance is.

Another option is to start taking away privileges if his room isn’t clean or if he refuses to clean the room when you ask.

I wish you luck. Please let us know how it goes!

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