Ask the Experts

“Put Down the Game and Clean Up Your Room!”

“My son has no trouble concentrating when he’s playing a video game — so how can I get him to focus on cleaning his room?”

Unfortunately, all children — and some adults — prefer activities that are fun and enjoyable to those that are “work.” Watching a TV program or playing a computer game is certainly more fun than cleaning his room. Rather than turn cleaning into a game, think about how you can structure this task for him, so it is easier to do.

I find that once a child or adolescent starts a game, it is difficult to get him to stop. Perhaps you can establish a specific time during the week when he must tidy up his room. Ideally, this would be on the weekend rather than after school. On that day, put his computer games away and put the TV off limits. He can have neither until his room is done. Offer to work with him and to help him organize what he needs to do. By doing this, you are not taking away something that he enjoys, so he can clean up his room. You are establishing a rule: no TV or games until your room is done.