How can I get my kids to clean their rooms?

by Amy McCready

cleanroomOur question today is from Marcy, a mom of 3 from Austin, TX and she asks…

“How can I get my kids to clean their rooms? I feel like I’m constantly fussing at them to pick up their stuff but it’s like I’m talking to a brick wall. I don’t ask them to do a lot around here but I expect them to keep a clean room. Help!”

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The full transcript:

Welcome to ASK AMY TV where we provide simple solutions to your most frustrating discipline dilemmas. I’m Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the author of If I Have to Tell You One More Time…(Tarcher/Penguin, 2011).

Our question today is from Marcy, a mom of 3 from Austin, TX and she asks…

“How can I get my kids to clean their rooms? I feel like I’m constantly fussing at them to pick up their stuff but it’s like I’m talking to a brick wall. I don’t ask them to do a lot around here but I expect them to keep a clean room. Help!”

Marcy – believe me, I hear that question all the time. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can employ.

1. You can just let it go and let them experience the natural consequences of a messy room. They’ll quickly discover that they lose track of things as they frantically search for the game piece that’s hidden under the piles of dirty clothes. Allowing the natural consequences to play out is actually the best teacher – but I’ve found that parents have a really hard time with letting the messy room go.

2. If you fall into that category – there are other strategies you can use. You can use a WHEN-THEN routine. “WHEN your room is clean (which means I can see your entire floor and the horizontal surfaces are clear of clutter) THEN, you can have your TV time, or THEN we’ll leave or practice, or THEN you can join us for dinner.” Creating a When-Then routine in which the room must be cleaned before a more enjoyable part of the routine occurs – creates a natural incentive. If you follow a When-Then routine every single day- there’s no need to fuss or fight about it. As my mother-in-law says, it’s the law. It’s just the way we do things around here. That’s called “letting the routine be the boss” so you don’t have to be.

3. Decide what you will do. You can let your kids know… “Our family rule is that the room has to be clean by 5:00 each day. Either you can clean it or I will. But, anything that I find laying around will go into a box in the garage and be unavailable for the next week. If your son doesn’t have his uniform for practice, he’ll learn an important lesson when he explains to the coach why he’s not prepared. If you find that your kids don’t even miss the toys or clothes that you hauled out to the garage, that lets you know they probably have more than they need and it’s time for a big donation to Goodwill Industries.

What about you? What are your biggest challenges in getting your kids to pick up after themselves? Tell me about it in the comment section under this video.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you know when a new ASK Amy video is posted.

And of course, continue posting your questions in the box at AskAmy.TV. I may pick your discipline dilemma for my next ASK AMY video.

Marcy – as a thank you for posting your question, I’m going to send you a signed copy of my new book: If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling (Tarcher/Penguin, 2011)

Thanks for joining me at Ask Amy TV and as always, I wish you parenting peace.

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About the Author
Amy McCready
Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the author of “If I Have To Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program To Get Kids To Listen Without Nagging, Reminding, or Yelling”. (Penguin, 2011). She is a regular contributor on The TODAY Show and has also appeared on Rachael Ray, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, and elsewhere. As a “recovering yeller,” Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happy families and well-behaved kids. Her award-winning online course empowers parents worldwide to correct their kids’ misbehaviors without nagging, reminding or yelling. Amy is a sought after keynote speaker and trusted spokesperson for family-friendly brands. In her most important role, she plays mom to two teenage boys. Follow Amy on Twitter. Connect with Amy.
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