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Jennifer, School Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 397
Experience:  Collaborative parent consultation on everything from modifying behavior to child development.
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My 14 year old daugthers room is digusting. A few months

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My 14 year old daugther's room is digusting. A few months ago I decided to quit riding her about it and see what would happen. I won't go in there. There are piles of clothes, jewelry, money, garbage, luggage from a trip we took weeks ago, etc. If she happens to put something in the laundry I will wash it, but then put the clean, folded clothes in piles in the doorway for her to put away (which rarely happens). How should I handle this? Our house isn't perfect by any means, however, I like things somewhat in there place and relatively clean most of the time. Also, she now wants to "re-do" her room. At first I thought maybe that would be a good idea and that she might take some pride in her new room, but now I believe that we would be in the same situation within months of cleaning up the old room. Help??
Hello and thanks for using!

I have a few suggestions for you... The first is from Love & Logic -- a great parenting / teaching philosophy that I recommend often to families I work with and use myself with my own daughter. They list a lot of great strategies for effective discipline on their website ( and offer many free articles and videos as resources to parents. One technique from this theory when it comes to picking up is to simply say, "Feel free to keep the things you put away." She'll look at you, confused, and you'll then say, "At X:XX today I'll be coming to your room to see if it's clean. You can keep the things that are put away." The key here, although sometimes difficult, is to follow through. Perhaps everything NOT put away gets donated. Or perhaps you put it in a box and send it off to a friend or family member's house for a time (LONG enough for her to really miss them -- a month?) If you decide for a temporary loss, be sure to let her know what she needs to do to earn them back. Maybe it means keeping a clean room for X days to choose 1 item. Then another X days to choose another, etc.

Another strategy I've heard of in this scenario is to talk with your daughter about the fact that although it is her bedroom, the bedroom is part of YOUR house. As such, you're going to remove the bedroom door to her bedroom. It's your door and you'd like to have it off for a while. She's 14 -- the loss of privacy should be enough to get her going. Explain that you'd be happy to put it back when her room "matches" the rest of the house by looking neat and tidy.

In either of these scenarios, you can offer to help, provide her with storage boxes, hangers, an empty laundry basket, and cleaning supplies to get the job done. Remember this is her responsibility, though. You can teach her how to be organized and provide her with the means, but ultimately she's old enough to take care of cleaning her room or face the consequences.
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