Teens, tweens and personal hygiene

Personal hygiene is important for growing kids. I was brought up to shower every day (well, it was a bath when I was little), brush my teeth twice a day and wash my face twice a day. I wore deodorant every day from when I hit puberty. I undid my shoes when I took them off and did them back up when I put them on.

I brought my kids up to do the same, really I did. So why the flip don’t they actually do them?

I’ll let my eldest off a bit. He showers every day and is pretty good at brushing his teeth (probably not twice a day EVERY day, but not far off). But his poor lips are cracked and sore, the main side effect of Roaccutane, and he puts Vaseline on them every couple of days. Believe me, when you’re on Roaccutane, you need to put Vaseline on them several times a day. And he doesn’t do his shoes up, or he does them up once, and continues to jam his feet into them for weeks on end, destroying the backs of his shoes, without ever undoing them.

But my other kids? They are something else!

Showers seem like something optional. And it’s an option they’re just not choosing to take.

I’ll give my son his due. He showers religiously on school days, but he just doesn’t think he needs to shower at weekends or school holidays. Now, if it’s not a hot day and he hasn’t been exercising, I don’t mind him showering every other day. But the reality is, he will go all weekend without showering, even though he will have played rugby and football and be coated in mud. In the school holidays, it just never occurs to him to shower. If I didn’t remind him, I don’t think he would ever remember.

Sometimes he will also forget to put his contact lenses in all day and claim not to realise. I find that hard to believe, as his sister has the same prescription and can’t bear to be without her glasses for more than a few seconds.

Brushing his teeth is also something which gets done in the morning on school days. Evenings, weekends and school holidays? That’s going to take a lot of nagging and even then it probably won’t get done. It feels like life is too short for him to waste two minutes brushing his teeth. There are Pokemon to catch and YouTube videos to watch. And once that’s all done for the day, he just wants to go to bed, not spend two minutes protecting his teeth for the future.

My daughter isn’t a whole lot better. She’s still at the stage of showering every other day and washing her hair once a week, but I’ve warned her that will have to change when she goes to secondary school. If I don’t remind her to shower, she won’t ever remember. Occasionally, I forget too (because us mums have enough to remember, don’t we?) and I’ll suddenly realise she’s gone four whole days without a shower.

She’s good at brushing her teeth before bed, but is likely to forget on weekend and school holiday mornings.

And face washing?! This is an alien concept to all of my kids, despite the fact that the boys have been told by doctors to do it to keep their acne at bay.

I’m not sure where I’ve gone wrong. My kids are bright enough and old enough to remember to do the basics of personal hygiene, yet somehow it doesn’t happen automatically. I can nag, but sometimes even that isn’t enough.

Is it just my kids? Is this lack of personal hygiene a common thing among tweens and young teenagers? And does anyone have any advice on how I can get them to remember?

Toothpaste, Contact lenses, Personal hygiene, Sons, Teenagers, Tweens

Author: Sarah Mummy

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19 Comments

  1. I think this is entirely normal. I have one who loves a shower and doesn’t need reminding and one who would never have one unless I told him to! Thankfully the latter hasn’t hit puberty yet and doesn’t smell. I’m going with the health observation that we’re all too clean and not exposed to enough germs these days! In terms of remembering, I guess it’s all about routine.

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    • That’s a good point about being too clean! My middle one definitely does smell and even my daughter will smell sometimes after a particularly energetic dance class, but they seem completely immune to it! The kids seem to have no routine at all at weekends and in school holidays, despite my best efforts!

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  2. I don’t think you have gone wrong….It’s just kids being kids!
    My teen is so much better at going in the shower or bath than she was a few years ago…It’s the teeth brushing we have a problem with. She has braces so needs to brush them more than the average person but sometimes if I don’t tell her to brush her teeth she will just forget. “I forgot” is her favourite saying at the moment….
    As much as my 9 year old loves having a bath she hates the shower….There’s no time to play in the shower. lol She has to be nagged to brush her teeth too….
    I really think it is an age thing and one day it will all just click into place. x

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    • It’s reassuring to hear that my kids aren’t the only ones like this! I don’t know how they can forget!
      I think you’re right that they will all click into place at some point. x

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  3. They will, when they get girl/boyfriends in my experience. They thought of having greasy hair, BO or bad breath is a complete no-no, when dating

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    • Even though he doesn’t have a girlfriend, I suspect that girls are the reason my eldest doesn’t ‘forget’ to have a shower like his siblings. I’m in no hurry for them to get girl/ boyfriends, but I would like to see them improve their hygiene!

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  4. This made me chuckle a bit, but I think this is probably my future isn’t it? I have to sometimes physically lift one into the bath and physically lift one out of the bath kicking and screaming!

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    • From reading other people’s comments, it sounds like it’s definitely the future! I’m kind of glad it’s such a common thing.

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  5. Ahhh teeth brushing, I was just wondering this the other day. When do you actually stop saying to your kids ‘have you brushed your teeth’ to which they reply and say yes, and then change that to no. Surely teeth brushing should just be routine at 11 and 14. My teen is quite good at showering and daughter has a bath and 1/2 showers a week. I am sure this will increase when she goes to high school x

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    • They sound very similar to my kids! I’m sure at some point brushing teeth will become automatic, won’t it?! x

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  6. I definitely think that it is kids being kids! I have to constantly remind Grace to put deodorant on as she is now at that age – and the amount of times I have to nag her to have a shower too! I thought that being a girl she would be a bit more ‘with it’!!

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    • I imagined that with my daughter too, but it hasn’t been the case! She assures me she does put deodorant on after a shower these days, but she does have this habit of ‘forgetting’ to shower!

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  7. I think this is something that all kids go through a phase of doing. Having said that, my middle one is too obsessed with cleanliness! My youngest only ever showers if I remind him and yes, he will regularly not shower after football. My eldest doesn’t always shower/bath every day either but I think that goes hand in hand with mental illness. Either way, I’m still reminding them at 12 and 16!

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    • Grrr! I don’t know they can’t want a shower after doing sport! My boy goes to bed with his legs caked in mud because he only has a shower in the morning and couldn’t possibly have one when he actually needs it!

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  8. Oh dear I’m not looking forward to going through that with my two! The thing that worked for my brother was the fact that his sisters were just brutally honest with him. If he came out without having showered for a while you could tell – and three big sisters would pipe up to tell him that he stank. He soon got into the habit of showering to avoid the embarrassment!
    Nat.x

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    • Ha ha, I can imagine that would be pretty effective! I do quietly tell my son if he smells, partly because he has very little sense of smell so is often genuinely unaware of it. I wouldn’t dare tell my daughter because she would get really upset, so we talk about it in a sort of ‘theoretical’ way and hope she gets the message! x

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  9. I’d be happy if I could get mine in the shower every other day tbh! And now they are that difficult age that I have to stay out of the bathroom so I can get them in there but to use any cleaning products – well that’s another matter!

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  10. I have a real mixed bag with hygiene. My 13-year-old is pretty good but I think that is more to do with the amount of sport her does, he always showers afterwards and he is very conscious of his hair and skin. He is just starting to show signs of spots and I introduced him to a face wash and he is actually using it at the moment. A is only 7 but she is great, she showers herself and is really good at keeping clean and brushing her teeth. Then there is my 11-year-old who we fondly refer to as the ‘soap dodger.’ Enough said. You would think that having a shower or brushing your teeth were the hardest things to do in the world.

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  11. I struggle to get my son to take a bath or a shower. It’s not too bad just now because he is still a little boy physically, but I dread the day it becomes more necessary.

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