Should I make a big deal out of my teenage boy's room being a mess?

A teenager's room often looks more like a pigsty than a bedroom. What should you do if your teenager's room is always a complete mess?

40  Answers

4 10

I like Ginger's theory. This is how we handled it with 3 kids in the house all in Jr. Hi or High School: You get X amount of time to clean it. Whatever is left on the floor after that time gets thrown out. No food in the rooms overnight. One time it got so bad... We took the door off of his room so he had no privacy until he cleaned it up. That was the most effective solution ever!

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96 4

I am not sure you can legally take their door off eliminating their privacy, as well as throwing out their belongings. It's good to get a professional's advice on this, first. The schools have us in their radar as parents, don't forget. (I worked in them). I had to actually tape up a box with plumbers tape all of his NINTENTO when he refused to do his homework, but it wasn't thrown out. It was done with the advice of a counselor. I like your toughness though. Really. My son who was almost 20, got literally thrown out of his room finally and got relegated to the basement playroom (which was soundproofed and which he loved, anyway) because we found a box of pizza about 3 months old under his bed. It had been an ongoing battle to keep the place livable. Done. The next step was, "see ya later, and don't let the door hit you in the behin_". He laughs about it now, and thanks us for being strict with him. Go figure. :) Pat Nickerson (ECE)

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0 20

I guess I'm in the minority because I feel to an extent you should make a big deal out of a messy room. I think it's a respect issue and not just towards you but for your kids. I think it's a habit that is learned and will follow them on in the future. I agree with allowing expression for your kids, decorate your room how you want it, but keep it clean.

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10 17

I agree with you 100%. What we teach our children is what they will take into adulthood...good or bad.

0 11

When my kids ask me if they can go out, my answer to that question is the same answer to..."IS YOUR ROOM CLEAN?" 5 minutes a day is all it takes! I'm to the point now where they don't even ask to go somewhere until their rooms are clean. I don't ask for much but that's the least they can do is clean their rooms! And...NO FOOD EVER! We as parents are supposed to be training our children into being responsible adults! That's all part of parenting...right?

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48 6

I agree. No food ever... because one thing leads to another. If you keep that rule, you never need to worry about things spoiling and smelling bad and no dirty dishes piling up.

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7 20

If that is the worse thing you teenager does, count your blessings.

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4 8

and a big Amen to that, I do want my son to keep his room somewhat clean bring up dirty dishes and dirty clothes, I have to tell him about 5 times, but then he does it. He has not been any trouble, no drinking or drugs and is into computers and marching band. So I am with you Alfreda count your blessings.

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4 406

I just shut the door. I'm on my second and third teenagers and it's not worth the fight.

21
0 1

I'm with you, Lisa. I close the doors. If the clothes don't make it to the laundry room, they don't get washed. When they finally run out of clean underwear, the clothes manage to find their way to the laundry. Food has never really been an issue. When I ask them why they don't make their beds, the answer is always "why bother when I have to unmake it when I get into it." My response, "I guess that could be the same with dishes, clothes, etc. Why should I wash them if you're planning on wearing or eating off of them." It usually gets the point across. But I agree it's not worth the fight, and they're pretty good when they know there will be company.

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37 6

A teenager is about themselves. Their hair, their clothes, their car, their phone, their room... the rest of the house belongs to everyone but their room is theirs. I simply have a few rules and the room remains their domain- break them and I get to come in and dictate : No food left in the room beyond pass out time because it stinks! No trickle down - as long as it doesnt trickle out the door and into 'regular' living space Im good! And odoriferous skunkiness are to kept at a bare minimum! If I can smell your room with the door closed you have some cleanin' ta do! Other than that it's all good.

17
6 13

My step daughter's room and bathroom were so nasty when she lived at home that I wouldn't even use her bathroom. But when she moved into a dorm, she became this neat freak and came home and complained to the younger two teenagers how messy their rooms were. So, I think cleaning will come naturally when it is their own "home". My kids wash their own clothes and I will fold them and put them on the bed for them to out up, but otherwise, I think that there are bigger battles and if they want to live with stuff every where then I just shut the door. And about once a month, I make them really clean it. Otherwise, it's not worth fighting over on a continual basis.

12
0 0

I agree "most" will come naturally when they leave home. My oldest was the WORST for keeping her room clean....but you go to her home now it is very neatly clean and everything in its place....I just hope that my youngest follows! Always the rule...eat in the dining room or kitchen, bedrooms off limits!

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0 11

I have two teenagers, one boy and one girl and a 10 year old boy,. They are like Oscar and Felix from The Odd Couple. The 10 year old is a combination of the two. My son is very messy and my daughter is extremely neat. All three of them wash their own clothes. I bought the hampers that are divided into 3 sections. They take their clothes off and sort them for washing when they put them in the hamper. My older son got lazy and decided to rush while clean up and put a red t-shirt in with his whites so he ended up with pink undershirt and underwear. He learned his lesson because I made him wear them. I told them Mommy is NOT the maid. I do not make a big deal out of his room being messy until it spills all over every other room. I give him a week to clean it and then I put everything in a Big Trash bag. He gets the point then!

9
0 19

I don't have a son, I have a daughter. She's a good kid, gets excellent grades, is involved in soccer, theatre and orchestra. She's responsible in most aspects of her life, including finances. But around the house, that's another story.

When it came to her bedroom I thought, it's about picking your battles, and this one is not worth the hassle. She has to live in it. I absolutely agree about the food - there have been times when we've had to say, no food in the room for a week, so she's pretty good about that now.. And, if she needs clothes, she can pick them up off her floor and clean them herself.

Now, the hard part is when the "I don't feel like picking up after myself" attitude trickles out into the living room. No matter how hard I try, I can not get her to clean up her things on her own without being asked.

8
12 1

I have 13, 16, and 18 year old sons. I have never allowed food in their rooms, eliminating mold or dishes being lost. As far as their own belongings all over, I close the door. When they complain that they can't find their own stuff? "Honey, that's your problem, clean your room and it will be found." Bottom line with teens is don't, do not, never ever, fight battles that don't matter and won't amount to much. If you're fighting for respect by making them clean their room then you lost their respect long ago. There are far bigger issues they're dealing with than a messy room. Peer pressure, dating, mean people, bullying, zits, body odor, braces, headaches, growing pains, lack of sleep because their circadian clocks are different than ours, all add up to an inner nightmare that, if you remember right, were FAR more important than whether our socks were on the floor. I also laid out that they were to do their own laundry so if they weren't prepared for school then natural consequences bit their own butts.

6
0 9

If you really want the room clean, you can threaten to post pictures of the messy room on facebook!
seriously tho, it's not such a big deal, just shut the door, and never ever go in there.

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48 6

Obviously, it's up to you but I have made my children clean their rooms and help with household chores as soon as they were able to walk and pick up their own toys. Eventually, adding more responsibilties as they were capable. My teenager rarely has a messy room, my 8 yr old is starting to stay tidier too. Both of my kids have clothes hampers in their room and when it's laundry day, they bring their clothes to the laundry room. If their rooms get out of control, I hand them a few trash bags and tell them to get rid of anything they don't need or want. Then we donate what's not trash to the once around shop.

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5 24

If your kid is a good kid ie: Good grades, nice friends, helps with the house work, respects you and his siblings.... who really cares what his room looks like? If you dont like it you can always close the door.

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0 14

I just make them keep their doors shut.

10 20

My one daughter when she was a teen was like that.. i told her to clean it and she refused so next day i did.. i went in loaded w a huge box of 39 gallon garbage bags.. anything and evrything on the floor went in them.. n out the back door it went.. when she realized she didnt have any underwear socks n shoes she begged to get them back.. i gave her one bag at a time.. she was to wash what was dirty.. put away anything clean n clean her room.. next time it got that bad again i would do the same but.. on garbage nite.. it worked she didnt wanna lose all her stuff again

4
1

I have 2 teenagers. Repeating my self on the same issue did not make any changes. What ever mess i found in the room,i just pack them in a bag and put them outside. Its working slowly, They have to go out side to search for their things ,which they don't like ,and i told them i will never stop it unless they change their bad habit .

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0 25

I think that parents should make consequences for kids not keeping their rooms clean. The world will require them to be self sufficient and home is the training ground for that. It may sound old school but, they don't need us to give them the freedom a friendship would provide they need the guidance a parent should provide. Keeping a clean room shows that they appreciate what they have.

3
0 12

I agree with Samantha, pick and chose your battles...They have to live in that mess. The only time I get involved is if it affects the house as a whole.

3
0 1

I leave it be, I shut the door. If they have friends over I tell them to clean it.. If they don't they are the ones that are embarrassed by it not me. I do stand by one rule too, no food in the room what so ever.

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0 25

thats a good idea and I agree no food in the bedroom either and yep they would be the one embarrassed after all they want to be a slob let them it wont last for long but I'm sure their friends will think twice visiting again unless their own rooms are a pigsty

15 50

I have 2 teenage sons. They are allowed to have their room anyway they want as long as there is no food in there (mice issue). Sometimes they leave their mess in other parts of the house and I just pick it up and throw it back into their rooms. I am pretty lucky that when the rooms get to a certain point the boys clean it themselves. That is fun to watch and listen to. "Oh my Goooodddd, where did that come from" etc. :-)) I feel there are more serious issues to deal with as a parent of teenagers and their bedrooms are at the bottom of the list.

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19 72

Does said teen pay the mortgage? If not, then yes, taking care of YOUR house should be expected and a minimum expectation. Of course, this skill should be taught starting at age 1 not at age 16.

2
1 17

The messy room drives me crazy. This past Friday one of my son's best friends killed himself. I know a messy room is the lest of his mothers concerns and what she would give for a messy teenboys room in the coming days. Somehow I do not think I am going to mind it so much from now on.

2
0 0

I have 5 kids, now 27, 26, 25, 25 and 18. Their rooms were never that bad. But my attitude was there is a door keep it close LOL. While they were younger: middle school age and under it was part of their chore list.

There are more important battles, keeping a bedroom clean with a teenager is very low on the warpath.

2
0 0

My son is 16. His room used to be unbearable. When he was 13 I decorated a room just for him...his den. I know this is not practical for all, but think of it as a playroom...just for teens. Anyway he keeps this room SPOTLESS. I only have to remind him occasionally to bring dishes back to the kitchen. I let him take the lead on decorating the room. Paint color, furniture, everything. He is PROUD of this room (and it IS really cool)!

His bedroom was still a DISASTER!!! You could not see the floor most of the time. We had many battles over his bedroom. I've tried ignoring it. I've tried giving him an allotted time to clean (from 1 hour to 1 week). I've tried getting rid of everything. Last Christmas I decided to try decorating his room...like we did with the den. I let HIM choose his colors & style. He surprised me by choosing a very mature & calming color palette. HE wanted a paint effect on one wall, we even painted his closet!! (he stores MOST of his clothes in a dresser so his closet is a 'part' of his room. As part of this redecoration he had to agree to let me help him organize & cull the clutter. I had to agree that there were things that he held dear & I could not MAKE him get rid of.

For a while his room was as spotless as his den. NOW...well, his room is not spotless, but it is tolerable. He takes pride in his space. Yes he does have laundry all over...the floor, the furniture, etc. He does not make his bed. He does not dust...& I don't have to harp on him. For a VERY small investment of paint, a new comforter & a couple of weekends I got a happy teen that loves his rooms & keeps them clean-ish...AND I had a really good excuse to spend time with me kid...and he wanted to spend that time with me too!

AS for food, dishes & laundry - If he wants clean clothes he either does his own laundry or gets his clothes to the laundry room. Food is not an issue...we had pest problems years ago while living in a apartment...Dishes, a friendly reminder when there are no glasses left in the kitchen always gets a positive response.

2
9 0

There are so many issues that I feel are very important--being honest, loving and respecting yourself, others and God and following rules--I honestly just let the bedroom issue go most of the time. My girls will usually clean it up on their own. It might not be to my standards, but I can just shut the door.

2
0 6

I have explained it to my 16 year old son like this... he is in the age where standards and habits are formed. He needs to understand where his goals line up with his standard of living. He talks about going to a University and living in a dorm, or going into the Air Force which will have dorm room inspections. If he makes the right habits now, he will struggle less later. He also knows what MY standard is... and should he decide he needs some extra time before going to College or AF, he will live by my standards and keep my house clean.
I guess I should maybe mention, I was raised by a VERY clean housewife, and am completing a 22 year career in the Air Force.

2
1 10

I think the bigger question is, should I continue to make a big deal out o f my teenage girl's room being a mess! I stopped cleaning her room two years ago, and I've had a hard time dealing with her efforts. I thought high school would change her attitude, but it hasn't. The clutter and disorganization drives me bananas!

2
48 6

I think that parents should start early and make their kids clean their own rooms by the time they know how to pick up toys and put them in a toy box. Eventually, they can make their own beds (maybe with a little help) by the time they are 5-7 yrs old. But if you wait until they are pre-teens or teenagers, why would they want to clean? They never had to before.

39 6

I was that teenager. It wasn't so much a case of me being lazy as feeling overwhelmed when things weren't organized. I would try and try but just couldn't do it. I still struggle with it today. My house has clutter everywhere and I do my best but I am not good at getting organized. I have a system now that works to help me. My house isn't dirty, just has clutter in various places.
My mom let me keep my room how I wanted it. I couldn't make a mess in the rest of the house and I had to help with weekly cleaning around the rest of the house. But my room was mine to with as I pleased. It worked in our house with some ground rules: no food left over night in our rooms, wash your clothes and put them in your room, no wet towels left on the floor and vacum and dust once a week.
There are biger fights to pick, than if a room is clean or not. I only have a 3 year old, but she already helps with cleaning around the house. As she gets older it will be her job to keep her playrooom and bedroom clean. If her room isn't neat then it is her cross to bear. So long as she is a good kid, I don't care what her room looks like.

1
0 1

It has been my experience that one of the most important things to a teenager is their privacy/own space. Whether their room is messy or clean to them doesn't matter. We have a schedule in our home. Once everyone arrives home from school, activities & work, both kids (16 & 11) have to clean their rooms and bathrooms while I get dinner ready. Cleaning would consist of picking up dirty clothes, making beds, no clutter on nightstands/dresser tops, etc. (Vacuuming, dusting, and their laundry is all done by the kids on Saturday morning before I commit to birthday parties, sleep-overs, etc). After dinner, they do homework at the bar while my husband cleans up the dinner mess, so he is available for any help they may need. Once all responsibilites (homework & chores) are done, I give them their electronics, which go with me to work daily in a laptop bag. At bedtime, they have to return them, and the routine starts over the next day. If they are being defiant, they not only forfeit their priveledges, but their spaces are taken away, and they are "evicted". We have a pull-out "cuddle-chair" in our room, and one night sleeping with the folks will straighten any kid into cleaning their room!! The reasoning behind this is that if they are right next to me, I can ensure that the clothes are hitting the hamper, the bed gets made right away in the morning, and the towels are hung neatly after showering. For the people that want to be critical of my parenting...Growing up, I didn't have my own room or bathroom. I didn't have laptops or cell phones. My parents didn't drive me to and from my extras after school, and I certainly wasn't "asked" to clean up after myself. I was raised in the South, where a good old-fashioned "butt-whoopin'" kept any unruly teenager in check!
I'm not an expert with any credentials at all, but in my house, this has always been the expectation, so my kids know how to get their rewards. The biggest challenge for me as a parent, is becoming overwhelmed with my own career and life at times, and not staying consistent. Consistency really is key!
My goal in parenting is to raise responsible, loving, contributing members of society. I don't think I'll know if I did anything correctly as a parent until my kids are grown with children and families of their own. But I will know that I always tried and did the best I could with the information that I had.
A word of advice from my father..."Don't fur-line the pigpen"... take from it what you will, but my interpretation is that if I want the piglets to leave at some point, I can't make it too comfie here!
Good luck to all of you.. this whole "mom-gig" isn't easy!! : )

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6 4

Reading this question makes me think of my son. Someone commented and said that you can't "legally" take their door off the hinges and I don't know where they were raised but as long as I am the parent and I am the one paying the bills and buying the clothes they have no legal rights in my home so the door can completely come off but I have learned that as a teenage boy that they have their own way of doing things they are not girls, my son is 16 years of age and I have fussed at him since he was about 12 about keeping his room cleaned and its to a point now where I just don't care anymore he makes good grades in school, he stays out of trouble, and all he wants and loves to do is talk to his girlfriend and skateboard and go the mall with his friends on the weekend, so as long as he continue to do those things and take out the trash when I tell him to then I dont care how his room looks as long as he keeps the door shut, for he does his own laundry here where we live he is learning to be his own man by me, for his father is incarcerated so being a single mother I can't fuss about every little thing so hey the room is as is there are just somethings about boys you can't win with, I have a hard enough time making him keep his own body clean so as long as he is good on that and the grades are good I am satisfied besides in just a few years he will be off to college and his room will become my office/guess room....
Good Luck!

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96 4

Almost every child goes through this stage. Mine did. However, every Saturday morning, they didn't budge outside the house until they cleaned their room totally, did their chores (laundry, dishes, etc.) and then they got to go out, got a ride, and/or got their allowances. They didn't like that, the choice was not "gastapo", just do it more often. :)

1
68 0

I don't know if anything will work , My Son and I quarled about this all the time . Nothing ever worked . The only thing to do was several times a year I went in and cleaned it up myself . He was good to help with the house work if I asked but not his room . So several times a year when I was doing heavy cleaning I had him help me he was great at windows and mirrors . SO it was a trade off . But he never knew it . Sometimes you just have to work it out .

1
0 8

my son lives like a pig - I have cleaned his room and his sister has cleaned his room but it goes right back to a pigsty. I have decided that must be how he wants to live so I shut the door!!!! I bought an airfreshener and make sure I get the wet towels off the rug. My husband and I have already accepted the fact that we are going to have to redo the room when he moved out - new sheetrock, floors, doors - he has trashed it. We told him when he gets his first house we are coming over to do the same to his place........payback baby!!!! LMAO

1
0 8

I have five children, two still live at home. My son who still lives at home is 17 and all of his friends come to our house to eat dinner and many nights to spend the night. One of his friends couldnt get along with his stepmom so he moved in. Their room when everybody hangs out is a total mess, which is almost every night. But I am the type of mom who cleans it evry morning after they leave for school.. I do make them pick up their room, put clothes in the dirty clothes hamper and I don't allow food in the room, but I do straighten the room every morning so that it looks presentable to whoever visits and it also makes the boys feel good when they come home from school. They're still kids!!

1
1 8

I have this problem, my son is 16 and can't find his hamper or trash can. His window screen has been taken out of the window. When his floor becomes covered with clothes, whether they are clean or dirty, out the window they go. Everyone in my house does their own wash, so he has more to wash. As far as the trash on the floor, under his blankets and onto his bed. Before he gets in his bed at night, he has to clean it off and find a trash can. If he doesn't, He knows the trash can will find a way onto his bed the following morning. Sure the trash on his sheets is nasty, but it gets clean sheets on the bed too.

1
2 9

I would tell mine that I would come in and clean your room after that I wouldn't have any problems because they knew if I had to come in they're room then what I found on the floor under the bed or on the floor in they're bathroom I would throw it in the trash and yes I would because I had other rooms in the house to clean and they're two rooms was off the list. After that it wasn't a big problem

1
13 4

Interesting thoughts. I'm on my 6th teenager and all but the first is a girl. Now girls are just messy. Boys spill out more, at least that is my experience. Those still living at home are expected to keep their rooms clean, vacumed and picked up. They do their own laundry on an assigned day and if they miss they have to wait until the following week to get it done. That has kept them on their toes! My 20 year old is the worst!! She leaves food, plates and cups in her room which is against the rules. It's a challenge to get her on track! My kids make their beds each morning and pick up clothes before heading off to work or school. No friends if the room is not clean. Those who have left home and set up their own homes are very neat and clean although they were not so at home which means they will take pride in their own places at some point! Don't give up! Stay on it! Try to enjoy your teen inspite of themselves!! :)

1
1

Before you start punishing him you might consider helping him clean it the first time. Sometimes it is hard for kids/teens to figure out how to organize their stuff. I know that I was bad at it my whole life. My parents would tell me to clean my room and I would stare at it baffled, without any clue where to start or what to do. I have had to read and watch videos to figure out how to organize my stuff in order to keep it clean. If your son is like me he may just not know how to keep his room clean. If you help him organize it so that everything has a home then he will probably have a much easier time keeping it clean.

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0 0

no.

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216 0

I don't mind if he has things all over the place as long as it's "clean" I don't want dishes left in there or trash. If he takes care of those things, he can keep his room a mess.

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11 2

I am guilty of not being consistent with my 14 year old in getting him to clean his bedroom, but starting today this changes. So in answer to the question I'll say "yes, to an extent". Dirty clothes on the floor and an unmade bed isn't really a big deal. But, an extreme pigsty is a different story.

If my son expects to use my laptop to game online, watch my tv, play video games, have friends over etc, then he can clean his room. Keeping his door closed and ignoring the mess is not an option.There's no reason not to keep the room presentable.

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21 0

Mine too, and incidentally mine was as a teen as well. If I ask him to clean it it is like pulling teeth, and on top of that it appears in the same state of disarray by the next evening.

My strategy is this: He must DO HIS OWN LAUNDRY WEEKLY; if any food items/dishes are found in his room (not taken care of immediately after use) he is responsible for washing the dinner dishes that night ON HIS OWN; he may not go anywhere with friends if his bed is not made, the room is clear of garbage/food stuffs/dishes and his laundry in his hamper or dresser according to filth rating...

his room is still a mess much of the time, but let me tell you, being responsible for your own laundry, and potentially having to wash up dishes (not only his--everyone's) is a motivator in keeping things minimally chaotic in there. :) good luck!

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