How do you talk to a teenager about body odour?

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In This Episode :

How do you talk to a teenager about body odour?

(only available to Members of Sue’s Parenting Club Online)

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Success in Secondary School Starts in Year 6

Jo Fitzgerald and Sue Atkins give advice about children in Year 6 returning to school and preparing for the transition into their Secondary School after lockdown.

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The importance of effective communication

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Don’t Stew – Ask Sue Parenting Q & A

Q. During this lockdown I have noticed that my teenage son – who is 14 years old - has lost touch with hygiene. He does not comb his hair or brush his teeth and shouts at me if I ask him to. He has online classes and just wakes up in the morning just in time for them. He has a bath once in two days. How do I rectify this as schools may not open soon? Darshina, Bengaluru

Listen to Sue’s response to this question in this week’s Podcast.

Good Hygiene what is it & why it is important seems like a simple question but it can be a fairly complex issue.

Who Makes the Hygiene Rules in Your Home?

Hygiene is essentially how we keep our bodies clean and healthy. The cleanliness aspect serves two purposes – to keep germs, viruses & bacteria at bay & to be socially acceptable.

Teenagers learn their hygiene habits from you but in times of teenage growth changes where they are striving for independence, young people often ‘push & challenge your boundaries’ whether it is your family values, your family rules or your rules around hygiene.

This is a typical form of teenage behaviour but it doesn’t mean you have to ignore it or accept it.

Choosing your moment to talk is important. Strike when the iron is cold not when you are angry.

Write down a couple of bullet points you’d like to say & think about how you want to come across.

Think about your tone of voice, your body language & your intention for having the conversation.

What are the key points you want to make?

Be calm, be respectful & be confident.

Teen Hygiene Basics

  • Every teen should:
  • Shower or bathe every day or every other day.
  • Wash hair daily or every other day.
  • Use deodorant or antiperspirant as needed.
  • Brush teeth twice a day and, preferably, floss daily.
  • Wear clean socks and underwear every day.

Hygiene rules are a guide and need to be tailored to your son. If your teen has oily skin or hair, a daily shower might be necessary. If his skin is dry, then bathing every other day is acceptable and even preferred because too much bathing strips away the skin’s natural protective oils.

Good dental hygiene is also important not only to prevent cavities but to prevent bad breath. So, chat about the social aspects as well as the reasons behind brushing his teeth twice a day.

There are a few ways to deal with a teen who won’t bathe or keep up basic hygiene. One way is to buy personal care items designed to appeal to teens. Deodorant, soap, body spray, or even acne face wash that are left in the bathroom might magically disappear in a few weeks. Don’t buy what you would buy, but look for products geared towards teens.

Another way is to have a basic hygiene discussion with your child. Sometimes when you are doing something else at the same time like preparing a meal (and they are a captive audience), you can get a short message in about what is expected, hygiene-wise.

Always be mindful that you are always either building bridges with your teen or building walls.

I always say a smile is a curve that puts a lot of things straight.

Hope that helps


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