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Hey Parents of Tweens!
If you're looking for advice on how to handle a situation with your pre-teen son or daughter, you've come to the right place. Here's where you can get your questions answered by the "true experts" -- real kids who can give you a tween's-eye view on life! Submit your question below, and we may choose it to post online for IML'ers to answer, then post a selection of responses. Please note that any responses we post will be reviewed and approved by one of our professional advisors.

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Read last month's question and tween responses!

Dear IML,
My kids are pigs! Most of the time their rooms are not clean and whenever I ask them nicely to clean up, they don't. I end up yelling at my children to clean up. Sometimes it makes me want to cry! If anybody can help me, you can IMLers!
--From Rachel, a mom in Texas

Tweens respond:

I am pretty messy myself! Your kids probably do want to clean up but, get distracted or find it very boring. I think that instead of saying clean your room, say clean your closet and then continue giving them other things to clean. When you break a large chore into smaller ones it make things much easier!
--Melissa, 11

There are many ways to solve your children's cleaning problem. The first one is a classic: punishment. You need to be the stronger person and threaten to take away videogames for a week, not allow them to go to friends' houses, or any thing else that will teach them to obey you and clean their mess. The second thing you can do is try to make cleaning a game. For example, whoever cleans their room the fastest wins; they could even get a little treat. The third and final thing that you can do is give out prizes. For instance, each week that you keep your room clean, you get a bag of your favorite candy. I really hope that my advice helped and that your children become neat and organized!
--Kayla, 14

Being a kid, I understand how it feels not wanting to clean up my room. We are lazy and always want to do something fun. Although, I think you should give your children consequences if they don't clean their rooms (no TV for a day, no hanging out with friends for a day, etc.). As well, do "room checks.” I know that if my room is not clean and one of my parents wants to check it, I usually go clean it because I know their will be consequences. Keep reinforcing all this and you might see spotless bedrooms. Good luck!
--Hailey, 14

I know how you feel, I am not the cleanest person on the planet, and I hate when my room is messy. I don't like cleaning, but love a clean room. My advice is to sit down with your kids and tell them you don't like how their rooms are always messy, and maybe try to split it half and half: maybe you can set a day when all your kids are home -- once a week -- and that's Cleaning Day. They have to clean their rooms on that day, and no arguing, unless it's for a really, really good reason. I have that, and it works quite well. Not only do I get in the habit of cleaning, but I have the clean room I want. Hopefully you'll have the clean room you want! Good luck!
--Tyra, 11

I used to be like that too. It depends on how old your kids are. If you have a smaller kid, make it into a game. Like, "If you put away all your toys, you can pick what we'll have for dessert." If you have a kid my age or older, and maybe 10 and up, you could offer to pay them $5 or so to clean their room every week. That way, the child learns to keep their room clean, and there's a reward. It can lower the stress on everyone. Hope I helped!
--Karrigan, 12

Now I can relate to the kids’ side of this and yours. I used to be a slob up until I turned 11. You see, I didn’t want to clean because I thought my parents wouldn’t do anything about it. I always thought, oh my sister should do it since it’s her room too. So if your kids share a room tell them to try to work together, and if they want to go somewhere and do something, tell them your room has to be clean for me even to remotely think about it. After a while, if they are like me they will just keep it clean if they want to do something they can without a hassle. Hope this helps!
--Alana, 11

Instead of yelling, make them had fun cleaning by one kid throwing a shirt to the other kid and that kid puts it on a hanger or something. or get them a radio to play along with in the background. That is what makes ME happy to clean. If that doesn't work, say to them politely to clean their room and promise to do something with them afterwards if they do. if you persuade them to do it, they will start to enjoy all of it.
--Maya, 10

I know how stressful it can be when someone isn't cooperating. Try to explain WHY something needs to be done. Sometimes kids feel that their parents want them to do something just so they can be bossy! Explain that you feel stressed that they don't listen. Most of all, listen to their side of the story! You don't want them to feel like they don't get any say, just because of their age. This will also help you to get an idea of what exactly they want. Hope this helps!
--Ann, 11

It sounds like you kids need to learn how to respect their mom. Also no offense to you, but it sounds like you need to learn how to give consequences. You can ask them nicely once and then you give them a punishment like sitting in their room or getting an extra chore. I know that it is hard to feel like you are in authority when they do not listen to them. But you have to show them that you are in complete control and there is not arguing that your word is law. Try talking to them and giving positive reinforcement when they do what you want. You could also make cleaning into a game if your kids are younger because then it becomes fun instead of a chore. Also remember that if you overreact, that is what they are looking for so if you just let it roll of you then they might do it. They are probably looking for a reaction. So if you don't get upset then they will know that you really mean what you say. Hope this helps.
--Joanna, 13

This is actually something that I struggled with at home too. I tend to leave my things everywhere, which makes my mom really mad. One thing that helped was when my mom took me aside and told me how she felt about it. If you can explain to your kids how irritated and uncomfortable their messy habits are making you feel, they might see that they truly are hurting you. I am sure that if they knew how badly you want to keep a clean house, they would agree to keep their rooms cleaner. Another thing that could work is letting the kids have their own space that they could keep as messy as they wish, but this space could be somewhere you never have to see. This way, they could be as messy as they wished, and you would never have to see the mess.
--Anonymous, 14


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