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I have been nagging my daughter for a year now to clean her bedroom, she starts, dawdles and then stops, you literally have to wade through stuff to get to her bed (her bedroom is smallish). I have already tried locking her in there on a Saturday and telling her she does not come out until it is clean, this resulted in a tantrum and then she just laid on her bed and went to sleep, I have stopped her from going to dance (she does ballet, jazz, tap and acro) which she had a tantrum over but it still did not result in her actually even trying to clean the room, I have taken away things such as TV time (she was quite happy to go 6 months without TV). I am at my wits end, my husband does not really help as he is messy and I am constantly nagging him to clean his side of our bedroom. What can I do?


Posted by lepumpkinhead, 26th February 2016


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  • She’s 9, lighten up! My kids are in their late twenties and still not 100% at cleaning up after themselves. You could try going in there when she’s at school and loading everything into plastic garbage bags. You might freak her out so much she’ll start keeping things tidy


  • Sounds to me you make it a battle of wills.
    Instead of the negative approach of taking things away when she doesn’t listen, I would make it positive thing and give her rewards and praise and one on one attention when she does listen.
    My 9yr old is a problem child and struggles to tidy too. I stopped making it a daily deal, she is allowed to have her room messy most of the week. And sometimes we work together in her room to make it tidy and clean. I make it in something happy with music on the background and a wee dance in between your tidy activities. When her mood is good I might ask her to tidy a bit and with every single bit she does I make sure I really praise her/give her a hi five.
    Another thing what might help is buying some new items for her room / a wee room make over. She may really start to like her room and take pride to make it tidy. Have plenty of storage and when you have a cupboard with drawers give them a label.


  • I have just finished reading The Life‑Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering by Marie Kondo. Seriously, worth the read. It’s a really interesting approach to why people find it difficult to maintain a tidy environment and why. I know this book has already made me look differently at how I expect my kids to tidy up their rooms. Tidying really is a skill and some people find it difficult to know where to begin to tidy. Read the book and help your daughter tidy her room – you can teach her how to do it in the future this way. My kids have already benefited from it. Fabulous book!


  • Start small maybe? Taking things away obviously hasn’t work, so find another way to work with her, instead of against. Also, if she isn’t used to cleaning her room (has she ever done it before?), maybe the problem is she doesn’t know where to start and is overwhelmed. Good luck


  • Get her to work on one are at a time – ie drawers, then desk, toys, etc. I have been known to throw out times if the room isn’t cleaned, which I have to say was quite effective.


  • Perhaps its too over whelming for her to do on her own and she does not know where to start. Have you tried spending an afternoon with her together tidying it up and finding a place for everything to go and then it is easier for her to keep it tidy, and she will probably not enjoy doing it but feel happy and relieved when it is done and looks nice and clean. then to go forward from there it is easier to keep tidy if everything has a place and it does not get to the point where it is too much.


  • Reward her. Find out something she really wants that you are willing to give her and tell her if she cleans her room to your standards you will buy her that. Probably not the best technique but it usually works :)


  • My daughter used to be tidy at that age. Now she is 19 and has become a hoarder in the bedroom . She even keeps shopping receipts !


  • I would suggest pocket money for everything from vaccuming, tidying up doing homework etc…(not a lot a few $ a week)I would start by setting some time to clean up with her, what we do with our kids is sectetly put away the really expensive stuff. Then we get out the broom and sweep everything that we sweep up if they dont put it away within 30 mins goes in the bin ( i do go through it once they are in bed once they are asleep and take out anything that really matters, and put it in my secret hideaway. but they dont know that). They have now started to put things away when we do this. And whats left is usually junky rubbish. We do this once a month… And the kids are now keen to do there rooms when told if they know there is money at the end of it… I dont buy them treats when we go to the shops they have to use there own money for treats…. Its hard but works after they see there things in the bin when they relise they dont get replaced after a melt down.


  • Try not washing her clothes and doing other things that will make her take notice of the fact she needs to keep her room clean. When she runs out of clean clothes or her favourite outfit isn’t clean maybe she’ll realise she needs to pull her weight.


  • Maybe initially do the cleaning together and come up with a system for keeping her room clean. Would she work towards a particular goal and would this help to keep her room clean.


  • Maybe(?) let her bedroom stay as is – you could offer to wash cloths and sheets that come out of the room – the rest is her responsibility. Its hard, its yuk, it stinks (I know – my sisters boys are the same). It could be with a try at least – unless sometime else has a better idea?


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