Handling a Messy Room with RESPECT for your Growing Child

I’m on a bunch of parenting groups on Facebook and am really floored by the responses to questions that have been posed. I read about a 16 year-old who wouldn’t go to school and the commenters were just awful toward the boy. I wrote about that situation in my newsletter Saturday morning talking about how else parents could look at what was happening.

I just read another one about a 13 year-old girl with a messy room. The number of commenters who suggested the parents take the door off the hinges and throw everything away from her room were astounding.

So what else can we do in a situation like this?

Here are my thoughts:

1. Does the child have the skills to keep her room neat? Is it something that needs to be taught?

2. Is she overwhelmed by all the things in her room? Does she need help releasing some of the things?

3. Are there any health code violations? (Rotting food, bugs, moldy liquids, unwashed dishes?) That needs addressing.

4. What does she think of her room? Is it working for her?

5. What does it bring up for the parent?

6. Has there been a discussion about these things? What happened? Was it a one-sided conversation?

7. What’s going on in this girl’s life? How is she doing overall? Is she involved in a lot of activities and school full time? Is she coming home exhausted, doing homework, and going straight to sleep?

8. This is part of parenting- learning to navigate situations like this and helping our children find their own way. How can we communicate respectfully with them and maintain boundaries? How can we assure they have the skills needed to be functional adults one day?

9. If we have a controlling response, why? If we feel like doing nothing about it, why? What happened with you and your room when you were a teen? How did it feel to you?

10. Do you keep a clean house? What’s the example you’re setting and modeling in your own space?

What do you do about your kids rooms, especially once they are teenagers? What’s your approach? Where are your boundaries? I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts.

Rebecca Thompson Hitt

Rebecca is the founder of The Consciously Parenting Project, LLC, and author of 3 books (Consciously Parenting: What it really Takes to Raise Emotionally Healthy Families, Creating Connection: Essential Tools for Growing Families through Conception, Birth and Beyond, and Nurturing Connection: What Parents Need to Know about Emotional Expression and Bonding), numerous classes and recordings, and the former co-host of a radio show, True North Parents.

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