Dear Teen Parenting Coach

Q: How Can I Get My Daughter to Clean Her Disgusting Room?

Does your teenager’s bedroom always look like a bomb went off, no matter how much you nag her to clean? You’re not alone — countless parents of teens with ADHD are tired of the daily horror of their child’s messy room. Here’s how to encourage your teen to clean, in a way that makes sense to her ADHD brain.

Q: “My 14-year-old daughter is relatively compliant, but her room is a hurricane. I’ve asked that, once a week, she clean it enough so that I can get in to changes sheets, dust, vacuum, and clean the bathroom. The one caveat is no wet towels on floor. Ever. For some reason, it’s like napalm to me. Still, her room is a mess with wet towels on the floor daily. I’m so sick of fighting about it. The consequences of no phone and no friends over for a weekend night don’t seem to change her behavior. Any thoughts?” —Mom Of Messy Mabel

Hi Mom of Messy Mabel:

Trust me, you are not alone on this one! Wet towels on the floor are practically a national scourge. Here are a few of my favorite tips to tackle your teenager’s messy bedroom and get you started down a path toward consistent bedroom cleanliness.

1. Recognize Your Kid’s Organizing Style

We each have our own unique organizing style. Start by asking your child, “What system is going to work for YOU?” If she needs to see her stuff to know it exists, then remove her closet door! If folding clothes is a pain point, replace her dresser with bins in to which she can easily toss t-shirts, jeans, socks, and underwear. If she detests hanging up clothes on hangers, ditch the rod in the closet and put up hooks.

2. Eliminate Road Blocks

If it takes a child more than three steps to do something, she isn’t going to do it. Take a tour of your child’s room using HER height as your guide. Can she open the closet door easily? Reach the rod and shelves? Are the dresser drawers hard to open? Is the dresser crammed full? And don’t forget about shelving! Is there enough shelf space for books, memorabilia, etc.? Does she have big enough trash and laundry baskets? Eliminating roadblocks is a critical step!

[Self-Test: The ADHD Test for Girls]

3. Cede Full Control

Teens crave independence. So empower your child by giving her choices while still setting boundaries. Tell your teen that a few electronics can live on the floor, but laundry and food simply must stay off the carpet. That one-to-one ratio — one rule for every freedom — makes teens much more likely to comply with your clutter edicts.

And if you are looking for more tips and tools to help your daughter, please check out my book, What’s the Deal with Teens and Time Management? A Parent’s Guide to Helping Your Child Succeed.

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The opinions and suggestions presented above are intended for your general knowledge only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your own or your child’s condition.