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How to Get Your Tween/Teen Out of Their Room

I surveyed the teen boys in my husband's fencing academy with the question, "How can your parents get you out of your room?" The saddest answer: my parents are never home so it doesn't matter. The funniest answer: donuts. Sadly, not one of the kids had a viable solution.

Where did that fun-loving, squeezable-cheeked child go? Now you perhaps hear drawers slam, loud music playing or muffled sounds from their room. It may seem like you have a phantom child living in your house. However, they appear once in while to rummage for food or to ask where their cleats are or if you can give them a ride somewhere.

We spend an inordinate amount of time taking care of them as children, it is only natural that we miss them and want to fill this void. However, teens naturally start pulling away and need time alone.

Dr. Peter Marshall is a child psychologist and author of "Now I Know Why Tigers Eat Their Young" writes:

"Privacy's important for teens partly because they need to separate. It's tempting to think that they're just goofing off, but they spend a large part of their time just

thinking about things, trying to figure out who they are, who they want to become. There's a lot of work for them to do, and they need some space to do it."

Their room is their safe haven away from the noise of the world outside. Most teenagers are just trying to figure things out in a place that is quiet so they can daydream and get to know they fit in...what they want to be, figuring out their emotions and their attractions to others.

This may all be fine and dandy but how can we cope?

  1. Don't take their need for privacy personal. It is not about you. It is a stage they are going through.

  2. Tell them at 4 o'clock every day you will knock on their door and come in to chat. This is not a time to remind them of what they need to be doing. It is not a time to pry into their lives. Nor is the time to reprimand them for being home late. This is a time to be curious about how they are doing. Share with them how you are doing. Ask how they feel about things. Ask their opinion on things and ask for their advice about your life.

  3. Find something you can do together. Take tennis or dance lessons together, go on bike rides, leave a puzzle out in the family room. We had the best talks late at night helping each other fit pieces into their rightful place. If your teen needs to learn a new language at school, learn it with them.

  4. Request that they eat one meal with the family a day. Research shows that eating one meal a day with the family lowers the risk of anxiety, depression, eating disorders and suicide among children.

  5. Do not leave them alone. This is easy to do because they are often prickly and closed lipped at this stage. They still need you. You will just need to invent new ways to be with them.

  6. If you are truly worried about what they are doing in their room and you are afraid they are in danger, intervene.

  7. Respect their need to be alone and make sure younger siblings are learning how to respect their space too.

  8. Be grateful that you know where they and sound in their room.

  9. Enjoy whatever time you get with them. Pretty soon the drawers will stop slamming, there will be no loud music and their room will be empty. Way to soon.

  10. And if need be, buy donuts!


Parenting can be quite the challenge. It is always good to have new tools in your "parenting tool box." Want personal coaching and problem solving solutions? Sign up for a FREE 15 Minute Strategy Session. We will pinpoint an irksome behavior and plan a strategy for resolving this issue.


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Kathryn Kvols

Author, Lecturer, Parenting Coach

(352) 494-1581

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