The Real Secret is a different kind of self help. We debunk the empty promises of so many books and DVDs and bring you a simple, sensible approach to real life fulfillment. We don't believe you can achieve happiness, or anything else, by simply wishing for, thinking about or visualising it. Our book - and this blog - takes only the best of what really works and turns it into a positive, practical 12-step programme that will enable you to take control of your life and raise your happiness levels.

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The Real Secret is simple, sensible, scientifically supported self help
by Lucy McCarraher & Annabel Shaw


How To Get Teenagers To Tidy Their Rooms

We had a request on Twitter asking "What do you recommend for getting stroppy teens to clear squalor from their rooms?"

We have a whole Step in The Real Secret devoted to "Richer Relationships" and a technique that will wonderfully improve relationships with partners and children of all ages. But at the end of this Step we give you these tips to "Negotiating with Loved Ones" - not always an easy process! But following these steps can really help:

1. Explain Your Feelings For Wanting Change
Tell your partner, children or other family member that you’re finding a situation very stressful. Apologise if you’ve been, perhaps, bad-tempered or unsympathetic lately. Explain, without playing the martyr, that the situation has got on top of you recently, acknowledge that it must have affected them badly too and that you’ve been thinking about how to improve things for them and for you.

Bear in mind the sentence structure, “When (x happens), I feel (describe your own emotions)” and substitute it for sentences that begin, “You always…”, “Why should I…?”, “You’re so….”. This avoids the blaming and name-calling which inevitably leads to retaliation and the opposite of empathic listening.

2. Outline Your Preferred Options
Having some alternatives ready can be useful. For example, suggest to your partner the options of either giving you half a day to yourself every other weekend, or a whole weekend every other month. Tell your children they can either clean their bedrooms once a week or they can choose another household chore that they are totally responsible for. Ask your elderly father whether he would rather go into respite care or stay at home with another family member while you go away.

3. Describe What’s In It For Them 
In return, your partner would also get half a day every other weekend, or a bi-monthly weekend to her/himself; your children can earn points or money for treats from their chores; you’ll take your father for a day out every time you get back from a week’s break.

4.  Listen (Empathically - see TRS Step Eight!) To Their Objections
They may be valid and it’s important for all parties to have their reactions and feelings taken into account. If everyone involved feels they have contributed to the final decision, they’ll be much more likely to stick the agreement.

5.  Revise And Finalise
Re-think your plans in the light of the responses and put forward an amended position, perhaps after everyone has had some time to think about it. At the very least you should be able to get a trial agreed to – the fortnightly half day for a month or one weekend away; two weeks of chores/room-tidying with appropriate rewards; a few days’ break – and then reassess.

Consider this: your teen probably would prefer to live in a tidier environment, but may not know the way to go about it. By the time we've got to parenthood, it seems obvious to most of us how to go about tidying and keeping a room tidy. But to the adolescent brain, it may not be so obvious and explaining the basics could help. The following is adapted from Step Three of The Real Secret, "Take Control".


The way to keep your room in order is to create a filing system. You need a filing system for clothes - hanging clothes, folded clothes, underclothes, dirty clothes, shoes, coats.... You need a filing system for your school or college work, your CDs, games & DVDs - in fact for whatever you keep in your own room. Whether you use a piece of furniture, a set of shelves, or the floor (your teenager may already be using the last - but is it just chaos or oragnised chaos?), the important thing is to have a place for everything. The amount of time that is lost and wasted looking for items of clothing or work can be considerable, not to mention the annoyance and stress that losing important things creates. Always know exactly where to find anything, and always, always put things back in their place after use.

“Nothing will work unless you do”.
Maya Angelou, writer

Know what “organised” looks and feels like for you. This will be personal, even idiosyncratic. Create a system that works for you, bearing in mind that organised spaces are simple to use; they have an internal order and enough room for the items they hold. Just because you may not keep things out of view doesn’t mean you’re not organised. Piles of papers on your floor might be the most efficient system for you, even if it doesn’t look pretty. The allocated space, though – closets, files, drawers, piles – must make sense to you and you should know what is in them and where.

Being in control of what works best for you is not the same as allowing a mess to surround you simply for want of care and attention. Make sure that organised chaos is not obscured by unneeded or useless junk. Don’t keep what you don’t need; get into the habit of regular de-junking. If you don't need it or don't love it, pass it on or recycle it.

Remember, your room is an expression of you, and while you may love and be loved for your cluttered environment, make sure the clutter is all wanted and organised to suit your needs. To really get organised, you might need to start by clearing out and organising your entire room – over time if necessary. You will know when you've reached “home” because it will feel calm, open, and welcoming. You will enjoy being in it, and so will your friends - even your parents!

“Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
William Morris (1835-1896)

Let us know if it works for you. Here, or on Twitter or Facebook

There's more good advice for you and your teenagers in The Real Secret on and
posted by Lucy

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