You’re likely wondering at what point your teen thought this ok? From the dirty dishes, leftover food, drink containers, dirty clothes, to the scattered garbage and more, this is a disgusting disaster!

You’ve offered to help, you’ve threatened, set consequences, all the things, and none of that’s working so you keep cycling from resentment, to angry, to blowing your top and still, nothing changes.

The state of your teen’s room has become such a sore spot you’re not speaking, and if you do, it’s short and infused with resentment and frustration.

Not in my house you won’t!

Just because your teen is old enough and physically capable of cleaning their room, doesn’t mean they have the emotional or mental capacity to hop to it when you asked (even if you gave them lots of notice). There’s a few more factors to consider.

Teens struggle more with simple tasks because of the massive growth and renovation happening in their brain occupying their previously available energy. Just because you don’t see this process on the outside doesn’t mean it’s not having an impact on the inside.

Teens tell me they feel –

1) overwhelmed and don’t know where to start

2) too anxious or depressed about higher emotional priorities to care

3) so tired because they have troubles sleeping well and can’t concentrate on the task

4) defeated knowing they won’t do it they way you want so they don’t try

5) like it’s another thing you value being impressed on them

6) their room is their safe place, and they like it how it is because it feels familiar

Different strokes for different folks.

Informal personality styles (i.e., extroverted, high creatives or introverted, highly sensitive) aren’t fussed about their environments and that doesn’t make them irresponsible or lazy.

Lecturing your teen about how it’s YOUR house and they need to respect YOUR property doesn’t help them take ownership or responsibility of their room because if it’s all yours, YOU clean it! At least that’s what your teen thinks and might not be saying.

Setting boundaries around property damage like mold, soiled carpet, attracting bugs, etc., helps maintain respect without leading to control. If damage occurs and requires repair, support your teen to find ways they can contribute to the cost without resorting to shaming on condescension, “Well you wouldn’t have to pay for it if you’d cleaned it up like I’d asked!”.

Remember if your teen isn’t a clean freak, they still need encouragement to create their own strategies for task frequency without you reminding or nagging. Support your teen to choose a time of day or day of the week best for them and build in their own cues, knowing they aren’t going to be perfect at it.

Here’s 7 tips to help you and your teens:

  1. Lower your expectations because your it’s your teen’s room and what feels comfortable for them is different than what feels comfortable to you.
  2. Have compassion for their current stress and overwhelm and remember how defeating it feels to try and eat an elephant in one bite.
  3. Ask your teen permission to help them and be clear how they define that without running in and doing it your way. Instead, follow your teen’s lead.
  4. Be considerate and don’t touch anything or decide it’s final resting place (trash, relocate, recycle) without asking first.
  5. Suggest doing only one part of the room at a time, over time, i.e. a shelf, a drawer, their bed, etc., to make the task feel more manageable and build their confidence.
  6. Set a timer for 10 minutes and celebrate whatever gets done in that time, no matter how small to help your teen reduce the overwhelm of seeing hundreds of small decisions they don’t have answers for.
  7. Touch 10 – Encourage your teen to touch only 10 objects each day and stop, celebrating small progress over none.

Your role is to empower and encourage by being with your teen, not disable or dismiss them by doing it yourself. Helping them break big tasks down into manageable bits build their self-esteem and confidence, while adding trust, respect, and connection to your relationship.

What if your teen is hiding things they don’t want you to see?

Join me and Dr. Mike Milobsky, experienced Pediatrician and Adolescent Substance Use Clinician, on Friday, May 10th in my private parenting community for a LIVE discussion about teens and substance use – why it’s happening, what you need to know and how to be part of the solution. This is hard stuff, and you don’t have to do it alone.

Jump in my private parenting community now and start your free 30-day trial!

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