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How to Get the Kids to Clean their Rooms

PHOTO: It's a common struggle in families, getting kids to clean their rooms. Some parents turn to bribes and others to discipline, but experts say both of those options do more harm than good and instead parents should offer help and guidance. CREDIT: Evelyn Giggles
PHOTO: It's a common struggle in families, getting kids to clean their rooms. Some parents turn to bribes and others to discipline, but experts say both of those options do more harm than good and instead parents should offer help and guidance. CREDIT: Evelyn Giggles
August 20, 2013

PHOENIX - If getting your children to clean their rooms is a constant battle, take solace in knowing you are not alone. According to parent educator Kelly Bartlett, it's a common struggle in families, and while parents should have expectations, they also need to realize that kids' skills and priorities are much different.

"I do think it's something that parents can teach kids," she said. "So, yes, it's worth it to try to work with kids and teach them good organization habits and cleanliness, but it's not worth having it become the center of a power struggle between parents and kids, because that's just going to drive your relationship apart and cause difficulties other places."

Bartlett said that for young children especially, an order to "clean your room" can be overwhelming, so showing them how to break it down into smaller tasks, such as picking up dirty clothes or making the bed, can be very helpful.

She cautioned against offering rewards or bribes, saying parents should instead provide help and guidance, and teach kids the positives that come with organization and cleanliness.

"And I think that's more rewarding then just saying 'I'll pay you to do this' or 'you'll get a sticker' or 'you'll get some prize if you can keep your room clean,' because eventually that reward it's not going to be there for them, no one is going to pay them or reward them in the future to keep their room clean," she warned.

While rewards are not suggested, Bartlett said, threats of discipline aren't any better.

"Because then kids start to see keeping a clean house as really 'unfun' and unpleasant and they associate it with being punished and, again, not that sense of satisfaction that we're going for."

More tips and techniques for working with your kids to keep their rooms clean can be found online at AttachmentParenting.org.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ