6 Parenting Tips For a Messy Room

What To Do About a Messy Room

Nothing is more frustrating to a parent than a child’s messy room.  Teaching kids to clean their room is such an important tool for navigating our relationship with our child.  I see the process of helping a child learn to manage their room as a life skill that will be with them into adulthood.

Before you begin to discipline your child, it would be helpful to consider the following:

  • Who needs this room clean now?  Usually, it’s the parent and not the child, so realizing the parent has a high level of motivation and energy toward getting the room clean, and the child may not have any interest at all in getting the room clean.  Being clear and understanding your child’s perspective can drive the communication more effectively.
  • Are your expectations age appropriate? Because little children love to help, we often expect them to be able to keep their room clean.  But really, it’s a big responsibility and a big chore, and it takes time for them to learn.
  • Is there a consistent expectation for your child?  So often, we do not consistently implement a message about the room.  Kids work best with clear directions, personal attention and a consistent message from us as to what we want them to do.  Along with this is appreciation for the contribution their helpfulness makes to you and the family environment.

So now that you have thought more about it…let’s jump in with some hands-on advice.  In this article, and in more detail on the accompanying MP3, you will learn 6 specific ways you can help your child learn responsibility for cleaning their room.

  1. Look at the messy room as an opportunity to parent each of your kids more effectively

  2. Give only 1 small task or chore (responsibility) to a toddler

  3. Be willing to help as is age appropriate – giving more responsibility as they get older

  4. Break the task into smaller steps…”Pick up everything that is red first” or “pick up all the toys first”

  5. Have a Saturday “Room Cleaning” day for the messy room

  6. Create an agreement to provide a “Room Check” with your older child.

I have recorded a 3.5 minute Parenting Pep Talk with more details about each of these 6 tips for Getting Their Messy Room Clean.  For more ideas, I would also suggest you take my free telelclass on dealing with power struggles.

I strongly encourage you to respond to this post and to share your ideas for helping kids keep their room clean. Not every idea works for every child, so the more discussion about this, the more helpful it can be.  I also encourage you to share your successes and challenges with these ideas.

Messy Room No More!

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11 Comments

  1. kimberly whisenant Says Reply

    my 6 year old daughter enjoys doing chores as long as they are with me such as when i am doing laundry, dishes, mopping. but she abouslty hates cleaning her room. even if i help. her father can not stand a messy house including the kids room. so i try to get my chores done plus theirs and all goes well until it their room. I intend to take any and all advice and at least try it twice. i always say you wont like it if you dont try it and practice makes perfect so one attempt isnt enough.

  2. Svetlana Says Reply

    I have 2 kids: 18y.o boy and 13y.o girl. Both cleaning and vacuum their rooms because they know if they don’t than soon they will need something from me …
    and they wouldn’t get it. Everything works 50/50. Kids have to know how is important for them to help their parents.

  3. Toby Huston Says Reply

    My son just turned 5, and I’ve wanted his disaster of a room to be picked up and been a demanding parent with no results. However, I did start to use step 4 before even learning about PositiveParenting and it was the only thing that achieved any kind of result. “First pickup all of the cars, then pickup all of the people, now lets do the books”… With such a huge task at hand I even found that doing several was overwhelming to him and I both, so we would go do something else and take the next step cleaning later after some play or sometimes more the next day.
    Mostly his room is a mess because either my wife or I are too busy/tired to spend the time to clean his room with him. That will change.

  4. Sharon Ballantine, Life Coach Says Reply

    Teaching kids how to break down a task that seems to be overwhelming into manageable chunks is a great life skill that will do more than help them to keep their room clean.

    At a certain age however, we have to learn that it is our child’s responsibility and decision on how they want to live. As long as they are not creating an environment that is dangerous to their health, and they know how to clean–and just choose not to–then sometimes we are better off letting them live in their mess. As long as they keep the door shut and the mess inside their space. It then becomes about setting boundaries and having an open conversation with your child about your expectations and listening to their view as well.

  5. Kristen Says Reply

    Are you able to provide a transcript for the calls and all the audio messages you share to your audience? I am Deaf and I have Deaf children, however, I would like to receive the same kind of information and help that others get. Thank you for your hard work and for your positive parenting wisdom, I look forward to receiving a response from you!

  6. Patricia Russell Says Reply

    Tips are effective. Thanks for discussing your BEST messy room washing tips.

  7. Julia Baker Says Reply

    Excellent tips and effective as well.

  8. Samuel Stanton Says Reply

    I’d have to agree that each child should be given at least 1 simple task each. They will learn to help one another.

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