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BY RAY GUARENDI
Can you offer any suggestions for
getting mess-loving kids to keep their rooms halfway livable?
Parental philosophy here is
divided into two camps. Some consider a youngster’s room his domain. As long as
the door is shut — ideally, a steel-encased door with a 12-inch external
deadbolt — the room is out of sight and out of mind. Other parents believe a
youngster’s room is hers up to a point. That is, “It’s her room, but it’s my
house, and I don’t want part of my house below city health code.” The
philosophy you prefer determines what action you’ll take.
The “closed-door” tack requires
lesser effort. Basically, the room just exists. You count on Sandy to eventually develop some desire to
keep his turf presentable. Sometimes this happens; other times it doesn’t until
a youngster has his own place. In the latter case, here are added suggestions:
Do not enter the room to pick up clothes, bed sheets or other items that need
your laundry, tailoring or general parent service. Sandy can a) bring the clothes to the laundry
room himself, b) wash all washables himself and c) repair and mend his own
possessions. This is the price tag for keeping the room the way he wants.
The “It’s his room, but it’s my
house” mentality takes more of your energy, but it usually results in a
better-kept room. First step: Set up room inspection times, say 6:30 p.m. on
Wednesday and 11 a.m. on Saturday. If conditions initially are too deplorable,
you might want to set up daily, maybe hourly, inspections. Second step: Decide
what the cost will be for a messy room. “Messy” is one of those loose terms
that kids like to argue about, so maybe you’d best clearly define messy or
unlivable or trashed.
Some standard costs could be: No
leaving the room until it’s cleaned. No leaving the house until the room is
cleaned. No TV or other privileges until the room is cleaned. Money deducted
from allowance until the room is cleaned. See a pattern here?
There’s a bright side to living
near a kid’s room. If you run out of storage space in your garage or shed, you
can always park the lawn tractor in his room. He’ll never know it’s there.
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