How do you make a 13 year old girl clean her room and keep it clean?

Shannan - posted on 05/19/2011 ( 24 moms have responded )

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I tell my daughter to clean her room and that she can not do anything else until it is done and she will stay in there for a month. I just can not find that "thing" that will motivate her. She has her 8th grade dance this Friday. I thought on Tuesday that I could tell her that if she didn't get it clean, she was not going. Well it isn't clean. Now I feel bad that I have to follow through and not let her go to this dance. It breaks my heart but if I give in then it will set a standard that I will never be able to correct.

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Jane - posted on 06/01/2011

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A lot of kids, even teens, don't know how to clean a room. Especially when the room is a real mess they have a very hard time knowing where to start.



With my daughter what I do is clean with her. I might say, "first let's get all the dirty clothes out of your room and in the laundry." Once we have done that we start a load, so it can run while we work on her room. Next I might work with her to hang her clean clothes up, pick up all the trash, put all her books on the bookshelf, and so on, one task at a time. Yes, I am cleaning her room so she isn't doing it by herself. But what I am really doing is teaching her how to organize and clean.



Some people are naturally talented at organizing. Others, like me and my daughter, have to learn how to organize. As the adult, it is my job to help my daughter learn how to clean. I then hope that the rewards of being able to find her things will be enough for her to continue on her own some day.



I suggest you find a good time to talk to your daughter where the two of you will not be interrupted. A good place is actually in the car. Kids often feel better about talking about serious subjects if they can talk to you in the car where she is next to you but doesn't have you staring at her.



Then tell her how you feel, that you know that you said she couldn't go to the dance if her room weren't clean, but you also know that the dance is really important to her. Give her the option of working together to get her room clean as I do with my daughter. If that happens successfully, then she can go to the dance.



However, you also have started something new - cleaning lessons disguised as mother-daughter alone time. Propose a set time every week when the two of you straighten her room so she can begin to internalize the idea of scheduled cleaning. By working with her a bit each week her room will stay cleaner, she will learn a new skill, and the two of you will have some time to bond.

[deleted account]

Shannan, maybe it's time to ask why you want her to clean it. My daughters are adult now, but I worked out pretty early that teenagers' standards of housekeeping are lower than mine (which are pretty low anyway!) I told them their rooms were their responsibility, but I didn't want to have to look in and see a mess, so they had to keep their door shut! If they wanted any clothes washed they had to put it in the laundry as i wouldn't go looking for laundry in their rooms.

TI just didn't feel it was worth creating a possible source of conflict over what I regarded (and still do) as a relatively trivial matter.

Leslie - posted on 06/08/2011

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It's her room. If she wants to live in filth let her. Keep the door shut. If you provide a good example of how to keep a house she will take note and take it with her in those later years. Trust me. I called my daughter "Slobby Spice" when she was younger and now as a college student her apartment is kept clean, tidy, and tasteful.

Christine - posted on 05/20/2011

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I do feel for you, my daughter is just as bad. Sometimes - once in three months she'll do it without me asking and begging. I work in school and thought I know how to work and communicate with children but my own daughter do drive me to the brink. I do the same and yes you feel so bad, wish I had advice for you :)

Momtoone - posted on 09/04/2011

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Pick your battles...this is one I didn't pick. My mother forced me to keep a clean room and it didn't make me a clean person. Once on my own, my place was a disaster! Dirty dishes, dirty bathroom, the works. How is my house now? Clean. Maturity set in and the decision that I didn't want to live in a messy house anymore was what changed my ways.



My daughter's room used to be a nightmare with science projects. My only rule, no food in her room (glasses cleared out every day). Otherwise, she can have the mess with the understanding of 'don't come crying to me when you can't find things'. At 13, her room is actually improving. Of course having a puppy has helped with that. If she leaves things on the floor and the puppy chews them up, who's really to blame?



I would rather battle grades, attitude and personal cleanliness then to waste my energy on an issue that will resolve itself in the future (like it did with me).

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Shelby - posted on 11/03/2014

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My dad when I was younger told me if i didn't start keeping my room clean, laundry done and dishes clean, then i wouldn't get a car when i was able to drive. Though i know some parent are able to buy there child a new car at 16, i fortunately had a parent who was, but it defiantly motivated me! Find something she really would like or does like to do and use that. I went from not disgusting but messy, to a neat freak extreamly quick. All it is is a habit you have to break. After 28 day, your daughter will start to realize cleaning her room isn't a chore anymore but something she just does and is now use to doing.

Sally - posted on 12/28/2013

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First, did you ever bother to teach her how to clean a room or what your standards of clean are or find out what her standards of clean are? She may think it's just fine or she may not know where to start or you may be so picky it's just not worth the effort to work all day and be told it's not good enough. Until you actually go through the room with her step by step showing exactly what you want done (and how to easily keep it that way), you are being unreasonable by any standard. Also, even if your standards are reasonable to an adult, they are probably seen as ridiculously picky by any child. As long as it's not attracting vermin, why not just close the door? If it really matters that much to you, I agree with the person who said disguise mother daughter bonding time as cleaning lessons.

Chris - posted on 12/27/2013

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You dont! Our daughter room is an disaster often but since a half a year back she cleans it up really nice when we have guest at home or when her friends come over. We always comment how good it looks then and how fast she did it. And when it is a disaster we just close her door. The door is more and more open... It is her room let she have some space and room to decide for her self. It will become better, I know for sure as I was the same and our house is very very nice and clean al the time. Well except the daughters room then sometimes.

Neely - posted on 12/26/2013

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wow… and you people are moms.. jesus, some of you should have been sterilized. I am in my twenties and my parents were like, whats wrong with you, how could you want to live in your own filth? Heres another great point they would make: that i was living in their house! Now as a twenty something adult, i know HOW TO CLEAN, and as a result I have a great place and am always a great guest. How do you get your daughter to clean? Uh use common sense and plain logic; she's thirteen, what the hell does she do? probably nothing. ITs gonna be a scary place when all these lazy parents who let their kids walk all over them, "grow up" and are all lazy inefficient adults. Thanks for that

JuLeah - posted on 09/05/2011

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Set up a routine and stick with it. Before .. pick something, evening TV or dinner is eaten, she will make sure her room is clean. It won't take long if done every day

Kim - posted on 09/02/2011

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you are right about that, it is very hard to follow through but you can not make empty threats.

JuLeah - posted on 06/09/2011

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You have to pick your battles. I am not sure I'd pick this one. Does she have positive friends> Good grades? Like school? Have hobbies? Help out at home, community? Kind to others? Respect herself? .... let the room go

Her room, her stuff. She is finding her path, finding her idendity .... breaking away from you.

Elizabeth - posted on 06/01/2011

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I had a messy room as a teen, and I did not grow out of it, at 40, I still struggle daily. I'm still losing important things under piles. I wish that I had been taught early on so that when I finally decided that I wanted to be neat it wouldn't have been and continue to be a battle. I could care less how my daughters room looks, and for quite a while I didn't make her clean her room, but I do care that she has the skills she needs. When I took a serious look at that, I changed my mind.

[deleted account]

I've brought up 3 daughters, and I really CANNOT understand all this fuss about a tidy room when there are far more important things to worry about! Teenagers' standards are not the same as their parents, no two ways about it. They're too busy coping with the demands of adolescence to be concerned about trivia.

Chose your battles. My girls all had messy rooms as teenagers, and they grew out of it.

Elizabeth - posted on 06/01/2011

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Sorry, this post will probably be long, but hopefully you will find something to help you. This is what I did with my daughter, it wasn't a dance that I was going to take away but I don't remember what it was. I'm sure she remembers though. Before I did this, her room looked like a monster ate the contents of the house, then threw them up in her room. Nightly, I had to make sure that she had a clear path to her bed in case of emergencies. Now-a-days, her room is pretty decent most of the time. I spent a lot of time coming up with this, and most of the things have a very specific reason for doing it that way, but this is going to be long enough without my explaining why. If you want to know though, I am willing to share that to.

First, it is possible to go back on your threat and actually make it work in your favor. I have done it on a rare occasion. I sit my daughter down, tell her the dilimma that I'm having, ie this thing about your room not being cleaned is a problem, I don't want to take the dance away from you, but I'm worried that if I don't, then I'm going to look like a pushover. I've thought about this long and hard, and I'm going to let you go to the dance, BUT we're going to solve this problem, does that sound fair?"

Communicating with her: First, I told her why I wanted her room cleaned. I want her to learn how to be organized and neat. It is so much easier to learn now, than down the road when it does become important to her. "It's something that I struggle with even now and I wish that I had learned how much earlier. If you know someone who is struggling with keeping their place neat, use them as an example.) I only have two more years to teach her these skills, and as a parent it is one of my jobs to teach her. I remember how I was as a teen, and I HATED that I couldn't have my room the way I wanted. Another reason I want her room clean is because the dust and dirt from her room filter into the rest of the house which makes my job harder. Her being able to find things right away, and a messy room being a fire hazard are two other reasons.
Then I told her my plan. It was firm but allowed her some leeway.

The plan: The first week of break, we would clean the room to mother inspection. She would do most of the work, and I would supervise and pitch in. When it was cleaned to mother inspection, we would begin with the normal plan.

No food or drink in the room without permission. Dishes, chip bags and crumbs must be taken care of before bedtime. These items can attract bugs and mice.

Once a week, the room needs to be cleaned to "mother approval" the room needs to be swept (which meant that the floor has to be cleared) and the room needs to be dusted so it doesn't afffect the rest of the house. She also needs to change her bedsheets and have all the dirty cloths in the hamper so that the smell doesn't seep into the rest of the house (we have other arrangements for laundry.) Also I have the right to say something like "that dresser top is getting pretty messy, please spend a couple of minutes straightening it up so you don't have as much work later." I let her choose which day she wanted to be the day that it is due by (she can do it earlier) and she can negotiate occasionally if she comes to me first. (I have a lot of homework today or I'm really cramping today.)

Once a month the room has to be cleaned to "mother inspection." I should have it on a set day, like the first friday of the month or something, but I normally just give her a few days warning. When we first cleaned her room together, we took pictures of every angle of the room and closets and organized places etc. "Mother inspection" means that the room needs to look like that. Not inside of drawers etc but the closet and the room, even under the bed. I also claim the right to call "Mother inspection" if we are having special company and it needs to be that way for major holidays.

Repercussions If she doesn't complete her tasks when they are due: If the weekly clean is not done properly on time, she has to do it before she is allowed to do anything else other than chores and homework, and the entire week she must spend 15 minutes a day until the next assigned day straightening the room before she can do anything else, and I take away 15 minutes computer time. If it is not done to "mother inspection" she loses privileges until she does it and a day after. And she has to do the same as if it she didn't get her weekly job done.

Making the transition: I wrote everything out including what was expected of her, due dates and the repercussions and had her sign that she read it. (That way she couldn't say "but you told me something else," or ,"you never told me THAT." The first few weeks, I would tell her I was reminding her of the new plan, that it was up to her but that I recommended that she work on it a little so it wasn't so much for her to do later. For the weekly clean, about an hour before the due time, I asked how close she was to having me check it out and told her that if she wants me to double check things before she says she's done, I can let her know if everything is done, but once 8 o'clock rolls around if it's not done right, then she had to do it right then, but I only gave her the 15 minute a day clean because she was still learning. Then after a month, she was responsible for remembering. She still asks me to double check things before the time is due.

Don't know what if anything here is something that would work for you, but if you have any questions let me know.

Teresa - posted on 06/01/2011

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I like Jamie Kings, 15 minutes for each item found! I will be using that.



My 13 year old has the I dont care adtitude when it comes to doing her chores. I have found it best to reward and discipline the it happened. Come to weeks end if chores were badly done all week and I had to constantly remind or do them myself then Firday night skate would be taken away, no allowance or whatever she had been planning all week to do. That is on top of the daily punishment she received No TV, cell, computer, games, or going to a friends house to hang out. I have even taken her book away when that was what was giving me all the issues.

Bonnie - posted on 06/01/2011

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If she doesn't have anything in her room except a mattress when she comes home from school today, she won't have much to clean will she? She will then have to earn back the privelage of receiving back items. This includes clothes.

Please be reminded that everything she has in her room, YOU probably bought for her and it actually belongs to you. You take back your possesions and only give her what she NEEDS until she proves she can keep her room clean.

This means that you will give her a set of clothing each day to wear. When she takes them off and they go the laundry, YOU get the clothes, she does not get to take them to her room until she earns them back.

This next step may be painful, but if she mouths off about it, which she might, warn her that you will sell something of hers that she really likes (Guitar, Ipod, TV, Laptop). It has to be something she would keep in her room. Something personal for it to hurt enough to jolt her. Only warn her once. If she doesn't listen, immediately remove the special item and get rid of it.

Gwen - posted on 05/31/2011

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My 16-year-old son keeps his room very messy also. Once a week he carts empty glasses and dishes back to kitchen. Otherwise it's a disaster area. Problem is, we are trying to sell our house, and we need his room neat for showings. Now that he has his beginner's license, I'll try hinging driving privileges on keeping his room clean. Wish me luck!

Rebecca - posted on 05/30/2011

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Take all of her things away from her that is value to her and tell her she will get them back when she cleans her room. I have 4 daughters and 2 sons and i raised them all like that.

Shannon - posted on 05/25/2011

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I have a 13-year old and recommend the "I'll take you to xyz when your room is clean" approach, the "I'll let your friend in the house when your room is clean" approach, or my favorite, "You can pay me to clean your room by Friday. Just be aware that the way I clean is not the same way you clean, so you might be missing some items when it's all done." We've also found that Clean Room Wednesdays work - She earns 5 dollars when it's clean (on accident or on purpose). It doesn't focus on her - it focuses on what the parent will do or not do.

Marla - posted on 05/24/2011

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my 20 year old son was a pig! Never cleaned his room...and as he got older, into his teen years, he had a job, he went to school during the day and he was actively involved in school athletics...he didn't have time to keep his room picked up. Now, he is 20, he lives with his girlfriend, their 2 year old, and her girlfriend's parents and siblings.....He still has his part time job and he is a full time university student getting a nursing degree....It drives him crazy for things to be messy. He does laundry, he picks up messes, runs the sweeper.....There is hope!!! My soon to be 13 year old daughter is also very messy. I was too and now i keep a pretty neat house. So I just keep reminding myself that there is hope!!!

Carlina - posted on 05/24/2011

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dont feel bad your doing the right thing, she has to learn that there are consequences to her actions, its called SPA, which means structure, predictability and and accountability. you have to remember that this is her choice, she decided that she was not going to the dance when she did not do what was expected of her. dont own responsibility for her poor decision. you have to hold your ground, because not following through your telling her that your word means nothing and she can take advantage......I am a mother of a 16 y/o girl.I hope I didnt affend you in any way.....just my thoughts

Jamie - posted on 05/24/2011

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I have 4 kids 30, 23, 19x2, and I agree with the ladies before me, it's their room as long as bed bugs and critters aren't crawling out into your space have at it girly girl ... The one thing i did do is every 3 day I would give my kids a heads up that I was doing a walk about and any towels, glasses,plates that I found in their room warranted 15 mins. of cleaning per item MY way. There were times later on that I stopped giving a heads up and would just walk in and they owed me cleaning time. With my one daughter that was into science I showed her under a microscope what lives in her bed and carpet when it is dirty, funny thing I never had to kick the dump back into her room to close the door. Now both my girls' home most days you can eat off their floors. lol

Wendy - posted on 05/21/2011

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pick your battles mum.....lol...my rule is no food and clear out the drinking glasses every other day and yes keep the door closed

Louise - posted on 05/20/2011

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I agree with Kathy I have given up shouting at my son who is 17 for his room. His room is awful and you can not see the floor for dirty clothes. What I do now is not mention his room at all and when he runs out of clean clothes he tidies up. He has to keep his door shut because I can not stand to look at it. He always has friends up there I am astounded he does not tidy up but he does not. Stop worrying about her room and let her live in the mess she will soon reach a point that not even she can stand to live in.

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