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My son is a slob

My son is an absolute slob.

His room is such a disaster, full of clothes and clutter, but I’m constantly finding dirty plates and glasses, too! I tell him I’m not his maid and I’m not going to clean it, but I can’t stand to see it like that all of the time (which is why I usually give in and clean it). How can I teach him the value of cleanliness and finally get him to clean up after himself?

A: YOU ARE DEFINITELY NOT ALONE! Many parents deal with the chore of hounding their kids to clean their rooms—and it can seem impossible to actually get them to regularly keep it clean on their own! Here’s the deal: Teens respond MUCH more positively to positive encouragement and motivation than they do to criticism and fear of failure. So for a successful cleaning experience, figuring out what drives your teen is key! Having a weekly room inspection with a reward usually works wonders. The catch is that the reward needs to be great enough to drive him to actually clean each week. (And, no, the reward of “just having a nice, clean room” is NOT enough for teens!) For example, would he like an extra hour of video-game time? Or maybe his choice of a couple of songs or apps from iTunes? Or even a day out to see a baseball game or concert with you? You can create these mini-prizes on your own or even create them with your son to get him involved. A person will do anything when they’re motivated enough to do it, and your son is no exception. Hopefully this can turn into a fun and productive activity that helps him work toward a goal, but then also enjoy the nice clean space he has worked for! Good luck!

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