Are you frustrated with getting your teenager to do the basics in life without a debate on why you are wrong?
It’s one of the biggest battles there is with teens. Their mess! Do you get the eye rolling? The complaining? The door slamming? Do you get the hours of “stalling “when you ask them to clean up their room, the bathroom? empty the dishwasher? My daughter spent 3 days cleaning her room over the holidays because she said she “had to have breaks “as she sat there on her phone eating crackers. Then of course we blow our stack and it gets done in 15 minutes – funny about that?
My daughter is the strangest creature sometimes as she will not eat her packed lunch and instead of walking six steps to the bin, or throwing it away at school, she leaves it in a cupboard?! There it will sit for 3 weeks growing legs and a head and just as it’s about to start walking around the room I find it and crack it with her. There are dirty tissues, remainders of eating and drinking sessions, old receipts and piles of dirty clothes and socks. I find it a bit odd really as I loved a tidy room when I was a kid and my mother NEVER told me to tidy it.
My husband and I have told her many times she needs to keep it tidy that food in the room means mice and ants crawling over your face and night. She barely lifted an eyelid. Some people say just leave it and close the door but really? what we are we teaching them in terms of hygiene and cleanliness and what about when they share a home with friends? My daughter would have to live in a dumpster and even then, the rats would complain about her and kick her out.
In the past I would go in and clean it and my husband would say “No, you are teaching her that she can get away with it and that it’s not important when we know it is”.
Our job is to prepare our kids for adult life and letting them get away with mess around the house and their room is not proactive parenting, is it?
We need our kids to be independent, to have respect for others, pride and dignity in your environment whether it’s at home or in the office. We have all seen those passive aggressive signs at the staff kitchen sink ‘Please Clean Up Mum doesn’t live here!”
Society requires a standard and we need to help teach it. As Dr Phil always says ‘You teach people how to treat you “and that goes for the home too. Who pays the bills? Who does most of the housework and running of the household yeah you bet its Mum and Dad. If they don’t respect us and our needs, then how on earth will they get on in the world?
But you want to avoid the endless cycle of nagging and fighting and then compliance, right? It’s like getting blood from a stone every single time you ask them to pick up their dirty towels from the bathroom floor or bring out their cups from the bedroom. It’s exhausting and puts stress on all the relationships in the family dynamic. The problem stems from our approach not the kids. We must be clever strategic and consistent and practical So what can you do?
Here are some tips to get your teen into a routine where the arguing stops and the actions become part of their rhythms in whatever home they land in now, and into the future.
- Parents: we are the boss – yes us! This is not a democracy. The kids need to tow the line. If they are not, the problem is our approach not the child!
- Have a sit-down family discussion of what your household expectations, and rules are. The children can have their say, but they don’t get a vote! It’s your house and your rules regardless. Acknowledge you understand they are busy, stressed, tired, etc but so are you and we all need to step up and require more of ourselves to work as a family unit.
- They cannot argue from today, and there will be no more negotiations on these expectations. If they are not done, and there is complaint or back chat, there will be consequences always, and follow through! If there are no consequences children will always keep pushing the boundaries. Rules will be conveniently forgotten over time. For my daughter it is not going out with her friends or sleeping over anywhere. With my son it’s his time at night on the internet. I call it my magic currency!
- Have a list on the fridge of your daily and weekly expectations for each child. Make sure they are equal labour load or they will ark up.
- Have a set day per week (mine is Saturday morning) where they clean their rooms. The rest of the week as they are busy at school let it slide a little.
- Give them their own laundry basket and make them do their own washing. My daughter started at 15 years old.
- Put a large bin in their rooms
- You need to be consistent and follow through always!
- Review the plan with the whole family after a free week to see what is working and what is not. Adjust to suit the context, but always in your favour first!
This may take some weeks especially if your teens have started ruling the roost and have developed some pretty sloppy house habits. It will take energy and persistence. If you have a particularly belligerent teen then, tell them you will be looking through their room every week for dishes and you will be inspecting inside cupboards. Which teen wants Mum looking through their belongings and cupboards? It worked beautifully in my home ha! They are wanting their privacy and independence – well they can earn it.
Having issues with your teen?
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