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Your Teen's Room: Tips for Compromise

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Does the room make a statement about the family attitude toward studying? A room with no bookshelves or study space may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even if your teen prefers to study elsewhere in the house, provide space in his room for additional study materials. There should always be shelves for books—with room for both his old favorites and new discoveries.

Lighting is important. In addition to an overhead fixture, there should be good supplementary lighting by the bed, by the desk, or in any area where your teen may read or work.

Many home supply superstores sell new “closet systems” that are great space savers. They can help make a small closet seem larger by providing double hanging and shelf space in closets that were wasted with a single pole. You can have professional companies install this for you.

Tuning In

The more healthy outlets you give teenagers for self-expression, the less need they'll have to find unhealthy ones.

If you're having shelves built for additional storage, have a coat of polyurethane added. It makes for better storage and easier cleanup.

Most teens like to express themselves through what they hang on the wall. Tackboard that can be painted the same color as the wall can be cut to fill an entire wall, leaving plenty of space for tacking posters, pictures, photographs, and small mementos on the wall without doing any damage. This system also permits a teen to update her interests regularly. Though teens report that the state of their room is a relatively low priority most of the time, they do look at the space as a haven. If you can instill a sense of control that will bring with it pride, you'll have gone a long way toward creating a neater room.

Organization, Teen-Style

If you think your teen is capable of reorganizing her room on her own, think again. Reorganizing a room is an overwhelming task for an adult, and you're going to need to help out. It's best if the two of you work together. (Even if you're not organized by nature, the following guidelines will give you the basics to straighten out a room. You may like it so well, you'll implement these measures throughout the house!) If your teenage son has no patience for folding and putting away T-shirts, let him handle a more difficult project that is his responsibility anyway, like sorting through memorabilia or deciding which books he wants to keep in his room.

Set aside several blocks of time or a full day to reorganize. You'll need a spray cleaner, dust cloth, vacuum, garbage bag, and laundry basket. Also bring in some boxes and label them “To Store Elsewhere” and “To Give Away.” You'll also want boxes (or you can create piles) of the items that will stay in the room: desk items, books, mementos, collections, sports equipment, and so on.

Working clockwise around the room, sift through all items and classify them, dusting or cleaning each area as it's emptied. You'll need your teen's input on which items to toss and which to save.

Consider where the “To Store” items will be kept. Oversized sports equipment might belong in the garage or basement (buy a basket or bin to keep items from rolling around and tripping up the whole family); a plastic box might be perfect for holding a baseball-card collection; and it may finally be time to buy your daughter a makeup organizer.

If you use storage containers, make them accessible. The key to getting a teen to put something away is to make sure that she won't have to lift or open anything extra in order to do it. (Stacked baskets and storage units within a closed cabinet just don't get used.)

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Parenting a Teenager © 1996 by Kate Kelly. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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