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7 tips for helping teens get organized

by respaced on March 12, 2013

Does the state of your teenager’s room drive you crazy? Do you find yourself in frequent fights with him or her in an attempt to get it cleaned up? It can be very maddening indeed, especially when the mess creates bigger problems for your teen such as lost items, late homework and chronic tardiness. If you are at your wit’s end about your child’s messy room, maybe these seven tips will give you some ideas for improving the situation:

1. With teenagers, it’s all about giving them as much control in the organizing process as possible. Commanding your teen to “go clean up your room” or telling him “you need to throw that away” is the surest way to start a fight. At the very least, it won’t help the room get organized.

2. Don’t judge the room by saying things like “this looks like a dump” and “why can’t you put your things away?” Teens will (rightly) interpret this as criticism and will respond by rejecting all of your suggestions. Instead, ask your teen questions such as, “Are you comfortable in your room? Can you find what you are looking for easily? Do you enjoy being spending time in here? Do you feel like you can concentrate in your room? Is there something missing that would make your room feel more relaxing?” The point of these questions is to get your teen to voice the need for change. If she admits that some changes are needed, she will be more likely to OWN those steps toward change. It’s all about getting THEM motivated because they CHOOSE to be, not because you are forcing them.

3. Promise your teen that you will not enter his room and throw anything away without his permission. You wouldn’t want him to do that in your room, so make sure you don’t do that in his room. Show him the same respect you would want him to show you.

4. Once they are able to admit that some changes are necessary, be ready with some suggestions but also be open to what they suggest. If they say they don’t enjoy being in their room, ask them what would need to change for them to feel comfortable. Do they need more space to store their belongings? More light to study by? A place to hang their sports equipment?

5. Let’s face it: Often teens will reject all the suggestions parents offer not because they are bad suggestions, but because they don’t want to accept any advice from their parents. If this is the situation, consider having a professional organizer come in to speak directly to your child and offer some suggestions. A neutral 3rd party may be just what you need to bridge that gap between frustrated parent and resentful teen.

6. For some teens, they may simply need inspiration and a chance to see the possibilities of what their room could be like. A trip to the Container Store, a home and remodel show or a Street of Dreams-type of event might get your teen excited about making positive changes in her space.

7. Finally, all teens need a place to study, a corner in which to relax, a workspace for hobbies and a place to store books, clothes and personal effects. Divide the room into zones and make sure each activity has its own zone, plus proper storage space to store all of that zone’s things.

Making sure your teen is involved every step of the way is the best way to make sure his room gets – and stays – organized. And remember to model good behavior. You can’t expect him to keep his room picked up if you don’t keep your own room picked up. Teens are very sensitive to double-standards so make sure you are modeling the behavior you want to see from them.

Image courtesy of PBTeen.

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