Getting Kids to Keep Their Rooms Clean

The perennial issue of getting children to keep their room clean is a challenge for every parent. This is a guide to getting kids to keep their rooms clean.

July 22, 2011 Flag
6 found this helpful

During their high school years, our now 40+ year old sons seemed to have a problem keeping their room clean and neat. My wife threatened to clean the room and throw out everything that wasn't put away properly - clothing, books, etc. She carried out the threat one day. and the kids came home to a sparkling clean rooms.

They thought this was pretty cool until they started searching for such things such as homework (left on the floor), school books piled on the beds, etc.


"Mom, where's my English homework? I have to turn it in tomorrow, and my trig book?" She said, "Oh, that? It's in the trash. I thought you didn't want it, so I threw it out." Of course, she didn't really throw it out, but there were a couple of scared teenagers in the house.

Another time, she told our youngest that he had to change the sheets on his bed. He kept putting it off, so my wife finally did it.

When he came home and saw that the sheets had been changed, he asked in a trembling voice, "Did you find anything in my room?" She replied, "You mean the Playboy magazines under your mattress?" No more problems with a messy room! To this day, both are neat freaks.

By Grey Knight from Columbus, OH

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July 22, 20110 found this helpful

My mom did this to us as teenagers-only everything went out the window onto the lawn.

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July 22, 20110 found this helpful

Cute. I hope your wife used latex gloves changing those sheets since they were no doubt very soiled, given your son's choice of reading material. :)

My parents wisely gave us kids $1,000 a month to keep our rooms clean, so our rooms remained spotless. We all kept our money in separate bank accounts. As a result, we kids had money to pay our own way through college (and grad school) so once we hit 18, we became financially independent. Upon making our fortunes, we repaid our parents with a Summer house, a toaster oven and multiple vacations.

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July 22, 20110 found this helpful

Wow, bryguyf69, $1,000 a month. When I first read it I thought it was a typo. guess my parents were more realistic. It was my room in their home. Keep it clean or Mom would keep it clean for me and I wouldn't like the way she did it. Sorry, but I think my parents were the wise ones. Grey I love what your wife did, I did the same to my grandson who lives with me, talk about panic when he came home and couldn't find his play station and games and his video movies. He keeps them put up now. LOL

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July 22, 20110 found this helpful

My Mother believed in using the "Reward System" for teaching my sister and me what was expected of us. We had different chores at different ages, so we learned a step at the time, and were "paid" accordingly.

At first, it was only pennies for our penny banks or to buy penny candy with. Keep in mind that I'll be 77 in January, so this has been a good while ago. By the time we progressed to a regular allowance, we already had learned how to do everything including changing our own bed linens and remaking our beds. Our allowance was 10 cents a week, and you have no

idea how far that 10 cents would stretch if you only went to town once a month. You'd have 40 cents to spend or to save. Many things that I liked only cost 12 cents at McCrory's or Kress's 5 and 10. I was so rich that many times, I couldn't think of anything I wanted more than I wanted my 40 cents, so I saved it.

I used the same method when raising our four children. Rewarding them for work the same as parents are rewarded for work they do (after all, they are parents, and it's their job to raise their children, to teach and guide them, and they are rewarded with good children and someone to help them when they're older if they're lucky) is a far better way to get them to do what they should do than to punish them for something they've not even been taught to do.

If you want them to do something, show them how. Work with them, starting very young picking up toys and clothing. Make a game of it if necessary. Spending time with them might just be the key to teaching them how to do something. Doing it all yourself is not the way to teach, but you should work with them while teaching. I know this method is successful , and it will stop all the horrible thoughts of "how can I punish my child next? " and "what can I do that will embarrass them most?" What message are parents wanting to get across?

You didn't learn how to do your job (which you get paid to do) without some kind of training, and neither will they. The most important factor seems to be starting the training early in life, and don't go too fast. Repetition is still one of the best ways of teaching. Practice makes perfect.

Hope this helps a few parents and lots of children out there who don't know how to work without first being taught. I feel sorry for those who are being punished so harshly. If the parents were busy teaching, I don't think those inappropriate items would have been in their rooms in the first place.

Please forgive me if I step on too many toes, but the truth is, I love children and young people, and I see so many who have no idea how to do much around the house at all, because they were never taught. I think there in lies the biggest problem of all. Since the children can't do it by themselves, they must rely on parents to help them. No school is ever going to teach them.


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July 22, 20110 found this helpful

Well said Pookarina. sounds like you not only learned the value of a dollar but also many worthwhile things to get you through life. When I said I wouldn't like the way Mom cleaned my room I only meant that the things i didn't have put away I didn't get to have for awhile, never longer than a fews days as I remember. I was one of the lucky ones, Mom believed in letting the punishment fit the crime if you will, and hitting was never her way, she always talked to us about what we had or hadn't done wrong. I am a lucky child, 55, and still have the best parents. I am still in shock about the $1000 month allowance though.

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July 23, 20110 found this helpful

My husband and I have recently become foster parents for 2 small children (siblings) of a family member who is very ill. These children have been in daycare since they were only a few weeks old, and I'm afraid the daycare was one of those that sits the children down in front of a TV set for hours a day.

Since their mother has been ill for some time, she was not able to teach them things that mothers would or should teach their children starting very early. I'm having to do it, and I have had to try about everything to get their cooperation. They are coming around though, and are enjoying it too as we give lots of praise about every step and encouraging and cheering them on.

That person who wrote about rewarding them by paying them for every small help they do sounds like a very good way of teaching them step by step. I can remember my own mother

showing my brothers and me how to do everything, and keeping a chart of how much we earned every day for doing those things.

I don't remember just how old I was when I received my first dollar allowance. We were also taught to save half of everything we received and that's a lesson that's stayed with me all my life. Even though there were times when I could not save half, I saved as much as I could.

The most important thing was the learning how to do the things she expected us to do. I was taught to cook, but so were my brothers taught to cook. I was taught how to do laundry and

so were they. There never was anything like women's work and men's work. I was also taught how to put oil in my car and how to check the water and air pressure in my car's tires by our

father. Today, I feel so lucky to have parents who taught us to do the ordinary things around the house and now, I feel I'm on the right track teaching my foster children.

I believe the reward system is far better than looking for ways to punish children of any age. Doing things that embarrass them can be traumatic and damaging to their self esteem. Seems to me like that would make them feel worthless and that's the last thing parents should want to be doing to their children. There's too much of that in the world already.


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July 24, 2011 Flag
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When my oldest daughter was in grade school I couldn't get her to keep her room cleaned. One day when she was in school I taped a notice on her bedroom door that said "Condemned by the Health Department".

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July 21, 2011 Flag
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When my boys were teenagers, I would give them a date when the room had to be cleaned up by. That gave them the option to do it within their own time frame. If it was not done by then, I would have the freedom to go into their rooms and find and read all the love notes.

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October 1, 2009 Flag
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My 11 year old daughter cleans her room once a month and it keeps getting messy again. What should she do to keep her room clean?

By pianahannah from Sapulpa, OK

October 2, 20090 found this helpful

I think the problem is your frequency; once a month isn't often enough to keep any area clean, much less a bedroom. I've instituted a Friday after school pick up time this year (no homework, right? What are you complaining about?).

It seems to be working. The problem with infrequent cleaning, in my life as well, is that it gets overwhelming. I'm overwhelmed by my daughter's room, and I'm pushing 40 now, so how must she feel?

So after the big clean on the month, do a Friday pick up. Mostly for us that means: nothing on the floor, clean off the desk, and do your laundry. Usually that's only one or two loads. Then you can do what you want for the weekend. Within reason. :-) Good luck!

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October 3, 20090 found this helpful

Get her a couple of large wicker baskets with lids to toss clothes into as she takes them off; one is for laundry (dirty clothes) and the other is for "I took it out of the closet to try it on and decided not to wear it, but didn't feel like hanging it back up" clothes that are still clean. Then she can hang these up when she "can't find anything to wear" because all her clothes will be in the basket. This will keep the clothes out of sight and in one place instead of scattered all over the room. If she has a desk, put baskets on and or under the desk to toss magazines, papers, books, etc. in until she sorts them.

You can also put baskets under the bed for shoes, etc. Best thing is to label all the baskets so the stuff gets sorted as it is tossed into the right basket.It keeps the room tidy, because it is easy for her to toss things into baskets instead of all over the room. This works for my kids! Each weekend, they go through one basket and sort and put away whatever is in the basket. Takes about 20 minutes and their rooms always look tidy.

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October 4, 20090 found this helpful

I agree with melharvey. Once a month is not nearly often enough. There is no reason why clothes can't be put in the clothes hamper every night and towels hung up in the bathroom. If she eats in her room, the food container should be taken back into the kitchen every night or at least in the mornings when she makes her bed. This is very little work that takes up very little time every day. If the small things are done every day, there are no "big" things to do later. The room could be swept or vacuumed and dusted once a week or more often, depending on how much is accumulated how often. Generally, just picking up after oneself is a huge contributor to a clean and orderly room.

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October 4, 20090 found this helpful

Once a month, how about once a week, and little things daily. If she keeps this up, I would hate to see her college dorm room.

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Anonymous Flag
October 4, 20090 found this helpful

She's definitely old enough to pick up after herself daily and clean once a week.

Here's what my daddy did after constant battles with me to keep my room clean and he made it with a humorous and embarrassing point for me ;-) I know it might sound mean and/or silly but it worked. He placed a sign in/sign out sheet of paper on my bedroom door, along with a pencil on a string, that said something like "Attention, please sign in and out so that we know you actually made it out of this room safely" and he placed a second sign saying something like, "And please take the bat sitting next to the doorway in with you to beat off the rodents residing with your friend." LOL!

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October 4, 20090 found this helpful

I had to laugh when I read about your child's messy room. I used to clean the house for my Mom as she worked full time. However I always felt my room was off limits. Still I was never out of control with huge messes. I think starting when kids are little and setting a good example by being neat yourself also can help. But heaven help those teen years when all goes down hill. Many times with my son it was not worth the arguments, so I closed the door. Today he is happily married to a "neat freak", and he goes right along with the program! Remember this too shall pass!

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October 4, 20090 found this helpful

I have 5 children; one boy and four girls ages 20, 17, 15, 12 and 8. The best way I have had to deal with this problem is to just lay off and stop hounding. But when they do clean it and have it clean remind them of how good it looks and how proud you are. All my kids except my 8 year old keep their rooms clean every day without my telling them. But I see how proud my 8 year old is when I tell her how she is keeping her room clean when it is clean. For me it was just time, give them time. They may not ever keep their room clean but spending a lot of time hounding is a waste of time that you could use for more positive things with your children. If you can't stand it shut their door.

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October 4, 20090 found this helpful

Side note to my post. If they want to have someone over or they want to go somewhere to stay they aren't allowed to until their room is clean. My 8 year old wanted to go stay at a friends house and I told her not until her room is clean. She gave me no arguments whatsoever and went straight to her room and cleaned it. Another thing to remember is not to nit-pick your kids cleaning skills and how they clean. That will come with time too. If kids are nit-picked to death about everything they do it turns them off completely.

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January 9, 20110 found this helpful

November 8, 2003 Flag
0 found this helpful

How do I clean my own room up? I want it to look nice.

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