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7 year old and hygiene

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

DD (technically SD) just turned 7.  She has been known to "forget" to wipe after peeing and to change into clean underwear.  We give her a shower every night during the week, though we sometimes skip one on weekends or she'll go Thursday night to Saturday morning or noon between showers.  We get her clothes out for her pretty much every day.  I wonder sometimes if we should be making her get her own, but it's one of those things that's sometimes easier to do yourself - but I'm usually the one of us who makes her do other things for herself.  Anyway...she just spent one night at SO's mom's and then the following two nights at her maternal grandmother's (BM is deceased for those who don't remember my story).  We instructed SO's mom to please give her a bath or a shower because we knew that her maternal grandmother probably wouldn't.  Sometimes she does, but mostly DD reports she didn't, and one reason DD gives us is "she doesn't like to get my hair wet".  Don't get me started on how dumb a reason that is, or how if she does a bath or uses a shower cap you don't have to worry about it.  We shower her at night (and she only washes her hair every other or every third shower because the hairdresser said it was dry and doesn't need washing every day) and I braid her hair so it's less tangled in the morning.  So she comes back from her grandmother's wearing an outfit from there not one of the 4 we packed for her, and I found 2 still-folded pair of underwear so I asked her if she changed into clean underwear while there.  She said she forgot yesterday.  I was not very happy.  For a young girl, she has some odor issues already especially if she does not shower, but in the past when I've emailed her grandmother about hygiene I got a cool, defensive response about her knowing how to care for her own grandchild.  We have a very good relationship, but I guess we hit a rough patch there.  So in a more recent email, I casually mentioned that DD sometimes forgets to wipe, so washing and changing her underwear is important, but I slipped it into my response to her telling me how the hairdresser said DD doesn't need to wash her hair every day.  But I guess the less direct route didn't work very well either.  I've tried telling DD herself, several times, to make sure she changes into clean underwear, hoping I could count on her to do it, but I guess that isn't working.  So I'm wondering, am I expecting too much of HER, and her grandmother is dropping the ball, or should she be able to do all this stuff herself no matter what her grandmother does or doesn't do?  And before someone says she's too young for me to worry about it, one Sunday, when she came back from spending two nights there, I had her change to go into the shower.  When she handed me her clothes, the smell from her underwear almost knocked me over!  I am not kidding, it was that bad!  It wasn't a pee smell either.  It was, to be blunt, dirty female parts that haven't showered in a couple days and maybe didn't change underwear.  So this is why (a) I get so upset and (b) why I have tried both with her and her grandmother to emphasize the importance of her keeping clean.  She spends at least one weekend night there most weekends, so it is not like I want to let it go because she's not there much.


Oh, and as for the shower, do you think 7 is too young to do their own shower?  Because she often goes in and then when you check on her 10 minutes later (I will give her what I feel is a very liberal 15 to do everything) she hasn't done anything but play and "wash" the walls.  Sometimes she just takes way too long to do things.  Still other times, she goes in, does what she's supposed to and gets out in 10 minutes.  when she takes too long or goofs off, I admit it, I get mad and then help her do what needs to be done.  Again, are we entrusting her with too much for a kid her age?

post #2 of 23

Here are the things we've done: 


1- When the kids start doing their own showers, I sit in there (with a book or something) and sort of walk them through what they need to do. I help with hair if needed until they figure out how to do it on their own (especially the girls' long hair). I try to walk them through it in the same order so they get into a routine of washing... top-to-bottom or bottom-to-top works well. Once they are done washing everything, they can play for a while. Then I just start weaning them off my help-- like I let them do all their own washing, then run through a checklist after ("Did you wash your whole body? Your private areas? Your hair?" etc)


2- Lay out clothes, including clean underwear on top. If you know what underwear you laid out, you will know if it is new underwear. If you can stay close by while she is getting dressed (use the opportunity to straighten the room or make the bed, or have her get dressed in your room while you get dressed or whatever works for you guys), you can be there for gentle reminders as needed. 


3- For anything that the kids have a hard time remembering (especially a series of somethings, like getting ready for bed or packing a backpack for school) we use a checklist or picture cards or something similar to remind them of each step. So you might make a picture chart of each piece of clothing to put on in order (starting with underwear) and stack the clothes in the same order. If she is picking out her own clothes, she can follow the list to get everything out of her drawers/closet. 


4- Let her pick out underwear she really likes that is all different. We've found that having several pairs they really like make it more likely they will put on new ones without being prompted because they are excited about wearing something new. 


As far as grandmas go, I've learned that you probably have to develop work-arounds as much as possible. That might mean showering and putting on clean underwear right before she goes, just in case... or trying to put new, exciting underwear, outfits, or bodywash in her overnight bag so she will want to use it. You might also try flushable wipes in the bathroom-- again, something interesting might help encourage her to wipe... if she doesn't always wipe it might be sore/irritated and the toilet paper might not feel great... and if they are moist wipes it might do a better job the times she does.


Hope something in there helps, or give you another idea that does!

post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks, those are helpful tips. :)  If I'm in the bathroom with her it's not a problem, but I was hoping she was old enough to do it consistantly without help.  Sometimes she has no problem and can do it - she even turns on the water and tests the temperature on her own.  She's been doing her own showers for about a year now, but some nights she does the messing around/lollygagging/forgetting stuff.  I guess I just wondered if it was "normal" age stuff and we are expecting too much.  As for the grandmother's, I asked her if she has wipes there to use them on mornings she isn't showering, before putting on clean underwear, but (a) I don't know if they have any and if not (b) if she's not going into her bag for undies, she's not going to get wipes out that we send if we did that.  We don't use scented body wash because her skin is sensitive, so I'm not sure if sending "fun" stuff would work either and if her grandmother doesn't want to bother helping her with a shower...when we're at home it's not as much an issue because we can control things, and her, it's mostly when at her grandmother's that I guess I'm frustrated with.  I know at some age she will be mature enough not only to remember but to WANT to do these things herself to keep clean, but we might have a few years before that happens, so the adults are supposed to make sure her hygiene is taken care of.

post #4 of 23

DSD is 7, and showers nightly. She does not have a problem washing her hair, conditioning it, and washing her body. As the water is warming up, she picks out pajamas and clean underwear and puts them on her toilet to put on after her shower. When she is done showering, she picks out her outfit for the next day and cleans up her room for the day. She does all of this with the prompt of, "Time to go take your shower." Sometimes she chooses a bath, where she still washes her hair, pouring water over her head from a cup. She will sometimes forget to drain the bathtub when she chooses a bath, so I generally check. She dresses and readies her things for school when her alarm goes off, before coming to wake me up.


So... it can be done with minimal parental involvement. :) It just depends on the kid. I don't think I could personally do half the things by myself at 7 that DSD is doing.

post #5 of 23

It very much depends on the kid. My almost-7-year-old does not bathe independently - he has younger sibs and the whole bedtime routine is a joint effort. I don't know if he can or not - but I'm quite sure it would waste an almighty amount of water. orngtongue.gif


When my kids strip down for bathtime, I have them toss their clothes in the hamper. They go right into PJs from there (or naked if it's summertime), and a whole set of new clothes goes on the next day. Even on no-bath days, they strip before bed and put all clothes in the hamper.


Grandma is not interested in your feedback on this one. Daily baths are a lot, frankly, for a 7-year-old. Bathe and change her right before sending and bathe and change her when she gets back, and leave it at that. If the panty odor is truly offensive, she may have a bacterial infection down there - some are asymptomatic. I was very surprised to be DXed with one in the course of a routine gyn visit years ago! 

post #6 of 23

I second a doctor visit just to rule out infection. 


Maybe just do overnights with grandma instead of sending her there for 2 nights in a row, especially on the heels of an overnight with the other grandma? Then it won't be a big deal if she skips her bath. 


I do think that 7 is old enough to remember to put on clean underwear each day. My kids don't wear underwear with their PJs, so they have to get a new pair to get dressed. 

post #7 of 23

i too recommend a doctors visit, 7 is not too young at all to have yeast issues or something that used to be called whites, which is rather like a yeast issue without the yeast. it could be over bathing that is causing the issue also. that is a pretty open pore sensitive area and over washing your lady parts causes your body to shut down it's own cleaning. the vagina is a self cleaning organ and its ph can be upset really easily. the smell would be the clue for me. that there is a bacterial issue going on or perhaps a natural high yeast content in her body. either way, perhaps it embarasses her and that is part of why she doesnt want to address the issue, head in the sand rather than head on, kwim. i know one of my dd's had a particularly strong odor at sometimes even before she was old enough to cycle. she was embarassed and would avoid bathing or talking about it or anything at all. i just took it upon myself one day to have a talk with her about ladies and our bodies and how they work and how we have to take special care of special areas. i talked to her about boys and those who are circ'd and those who arent and the care they need to take too. it really seemed to help her feel like she wasnt weird or different or abnormal or anything negative.


it could be something in her diet causing the strong odor, perhaps milk or meat... those both cause the lady parts to have a stronger scent than those who have a meat/dairy free or less meat/dairy diet. but i would definitely have it checked with a doctor to runa quick test to see if something is up.


as for her age... i have four daughters, some have been bathers and loved it, some i have had to cajole and fight into the routine. i am all for sleeping without undies at all, i think that the area needs to have some time to breathe and have some air at it. she might not want to wipe because she is sensitive there and it irritates her, what does she say when you talk to her about it? perhaps her doctor would recommend some sort of cream that might help with the odor and perhaps any sensitivity that she is experiencing. a talk with a gentle doctor that she trusts with you there too might be the ticket to getting her to see that she has a responsibility to her body and it's care.


i would definitely talk to her about it, about her lady parts and the special care that it requires, especially as she is entering the pre pubescent stage in her life. how her body is changing and it starts to produce more 'juice' than it used to and that it happens to all girls to have sort of messy undies sometimes, and during those times that she has to be extra careful to make sure she is not only wiping properly when she is using the washroom but that she dries off well when she is finished showering or bathing. 



i like the idea of special panties that she either picks herself or that she particularly likes and wants... and those ones with the days of the week are good too, then there are fresh ones for each day and she knows which are for which.





post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 

There is no discharge that I know of, but I'll keep an eye on it.  I've only seen the occasional yellowish stain, probably from sweat and/or when she forgets to wipe.  When asked about the wiping, like when I have caught her "red-handed" pulling up her panties/pants without having wiped, she simply says she "forgot".  I have to admit I am not the nicest person when she says that because I simply can't understand "forgetting" something like that at her age.  I've smelled her panties after one wearing and caught a faint odor, and then there's been an occasional Saturday morning when she hasn't showered since Thursday night, when she's been lounging on the sofa, switches position and I've caught a wiff of something, and then there was that one night I was nearly knocked over by it.  I think the smell I've encountered is either because of the forgetting to wipe, or "normal" bo of a girl who hasn't showered, especially if she sweats down there, or maybe a sign she may end up maturing sexually a bit early (my sisters and I were all 14 and my mom was 16, but she's not my blood relation.  Her half-sister on the other hand - different mother so it may not matter - was 9.5).  We have explained that girl parts are sensitive, and that yeast or other type stuff can grown anywhere it's warm, dark and wet, and that is why it is important to wipe, and to keep clean.  I have explained that body odor is normal, especially as kids get older, and that it happens to everyone but every body is different and smells different.  I recently gave her a stick of Tom's of Maine natural deoderant that I never used because we have noticed some under-arm odor lately especially over the Summer and when she played soccer this Fall.  I have not had a "birds & bees" talk with her so I don't think she knows much about her girlie bits besides what I've said about keeping clean and dry.  She just had her physical, and SO did not bring it up with her Dr. but I didn't ask him to either.  At her previous check up last year SO had him address the fact that redness and hurting she has complained about in the past, but not very recently, was probably because of hygiene issues such as not wiping or not wiping thoroughly.  However asked about it later that day, DD said she "forgot" what he said and obviously wasn't paying attention. :(  No big surprise there.  She often says "I don't remember" or "I don't know" about things she should have been paying attention to, though sometimes I know she does remember and just uses that excuse because she's been caught.)  I have also showed her on her body with my hand and with hers (and she also has one of those shower puffs) how to wash, that she doesn't need to stick her fingers or hand "inside".  Maybe the smell is more from the outside of her parts, not coming from inside...I don't think the odor is bad all the time, just when she hasn't showered in a while, which is why her going from Thursday night to Sunday night isn't comfortable with me.  She doesn't go to both grandparents in the same week very often, just that last week was school vacation, and yes, selfishly it's nice sometimes when she spends both Friday and Saturday night at Granny's.  We could try no undies after her nighttime shower thing so she is sure to put on clean ones in the morning.  Unless she's wearing shorts or jammie bottoms and might want them so she doesn't get a weggie.  Also, I like the days of the week undies idea too so that she knows she's put on fresh ones each day.

post #9 of 23

DSD is 8, and here is what goes on here:


-She only bathes about twice a week in the winter, more in the summer.  She just doesn't get that dirty.


-She does forget to wipe (or wipes poorly) fairly often, but DH seems skittish about addressing with her (he has a couple of times).  I feel weird saying anything directly.


-We pick out her clothes together, ideally at the beginning of the school week.  She has an organizer that hangs in her closet with little cubbies, and we pick out a complete outfit (including panties).  This usually helps her remember to change.  She forgets on occasion.


-She still likes to take baths with her little brothers, during which we wash her hair.  If she decides to take a shower (rare), she does it.  Once she starts taking showers regularly, we'll have to see how the hair washing is going and decide if she still needs help.


At this age, I don't think that it is abnormal to forget things sometimes.  Kids are so focused on what they are doing, they often don't even want to take the time to go to the bathroom.  It will get better.

post #10 of 23

I don't usually post in this forum, but saw your topic on the main page and thought I'd chime in.


I don't think it's outside of normal for kids this age to be distracted, forget to do things, goof off in the shower, not be interested in hygiene, not wipe well, forget to change undies, etc.  My dd is a bit younger (6) but is the youngest in her class so almost all her friends are your dsd's age, and what you describe does not sound out of the ordinary to me for that age (going on what I've observed and conversations I've had with other moms).  It sounds like for your dsd it is a bit too much to expect her to be self-motivated, and focussed enough when it comes to personal hygiene to take care of everything herself.  I think aricha's suggestions are great, and it is likely that you will have to play more of a role in her body care until she matures a bit more and starts to take that responsibility.  My friend has dd's aged 8 and 10 and he still needs to make them take showers, remind them to wash hair/wash all over, make sure they've changed into clean clothes, etc.

post #11 of 23

it doesnt sound too out of the ordinary to me either, espcially if she just turned 7. i would try baby wipes, i would think they are cheaper than those big kideroos or whatever they are, or a cloth especially for her when she goes anda drying cloth too. i would imagine the smell isnt her at all, but her undies, thatmany days of not wiping or poor wiping would cause quite and amniaish smell and not too pleasant mixed with the normal girl smell that girls have... no matter the age.


have you asked her about it? i wouldnt shy away from it, i would address it head on...not right at the moment when there has been an incident but say when you are putting away her clothes or getting her next day ones ready. just casual, does wiping hurt your 'insert whatever you call it at your house' or something like that.

i cant remember if i asked that before, but who knows it could be very insightful. maybe her undies need to be washed in ivory or another specific baby detergent or perhaps baking soda...


good luck,



post #12 of 23


"She just had her physical, and SO did not bring it up with her Dr. but I didn't ask him to either."


Dude. You're the mom. Really, truly, in every important way, you're the mom. You should be the one taking your DD to the doctor and discussing her lady bits. Next year, it would probably be good to assert that and tell Dad that he can be out in the waiting room, but the same-gender parent is going to handle any lady-bits discussion TYVM. smile.gif

post #13 of 23

My eight year old dd would not change or shower - ever - if I didn't remind her. It just doesn't cross her radar. I do what one pp suggested - I hang out in the bathroom and read while she showers and remind her what she needs to do. I figure one day she'll have the hang of it... We also pick out clean clothes together every am, and pjs at night.

post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 

Well, most of the time I don't go to her appointments; I work, he does not.  I have gone, but not always because of that.  He takes her to school, picks her up, takes her to appointments, etc.  I hadn't thought to tell him to ask about the girly bits, and SO didn't either, but I did have him write down to ask about her extremely dry skin on her hands in the winter.  I am pretty convinced her only girly bits issue is that she doesn't always wipe and is one of those girls who needs to shower.  That we can handle but I guess we need to keep on her.  I admit, I was selfishly hoping she could get her showering done on her own.

post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 

Ugh!  Not 2 hours after I posted I was cutting her fingernails prior to her shower and I could smell butt!  I sniffed her fingers and was appalled by the smell.  This was after dinner, during which I had to tell her to get her hands out of her pants.  She occasionally sits and one of us might catch her absentmindedly with a hand in the front of her pants.  Doesn't seem to be doing anything (like scratching or rubbing her privates), just has it there.  Anyway, I told her to keep her hands out, especially during supper.  So I don't know if that smell (which turns out was both hands - ew!) was from that incident, or earlier in the day...I asked her if she had been scratching her butt or something.  She just shrugged self-consciously.  Of course I know I didn't handle it well, I was kinda mean and said how gross it was.  I feel bad, but it was gross, they smelled LIKE BUTT.  So I made her wash her hands before I finished her nails, then had her undress for the shower.  I sniffed her underwear when she got in the shower, and they smelled the same - like butt.  Ugh.  I don't know what to do.  I helped her shower, made sure she washed her privates, helped her dry off, get dressed, etc.  I honestly don't think it's an issue for the doctor, but I'm not 100% sure.  I don't know what to do with her.  I can't be with her all the time.  I'm not with her at school.  I don't know what she does there.  I admit it, we have been very lax about her washing her hands every time she uses the bathroom.  I'll admit to you guys here, I don't do it myself.  I do at work, but not at home.  I know, I am guilty of not being to clean either I guess.  I suppose it's not too late for both of us to wash our hands each time.  But then I think about her super-dry hands in the winter.  They are so dry and red in certain spots that using moisturizer of any kind stings.  The Dr. recommended Auquaphor but I haven't got any yet.  Anyway....she showered yesterday before going out with her grandfather, and then his GF told me today that she changed into clean undies after they went skating yesterday because she was all wet from skating/sledding, so they didn't bother today, and then I had her put on clean ones after her shower tonight.  So there's no real explanation for her panties smelling like butt unless she's not wiping well, or is itching her butt through her undies, or there's something biologically wrong down there.  Sigh.

post #16 of 23

Re the dry hands... when I worked as a childcare provider for infants I had to wash my hands A LOT (like 30-40 times a day) and used to get raw, cracked, bleeding hands in the winter. The biggest difference came for me when I stopped using antibacterial soap. I also applied salve (I used pure Lanolin or  Burt's Bees Hand Salve, and my coworker used Gentle Natural's Baby Eczema cream) after hand-washing until the skin healed enough that lotion didn't sting, then switched to a water-based, non-scented hypoallergenic lotion designed especially for sensitive skin (Aquaphor, Aveeno, or Neutrogena all make good ones).

post #17 of 23

i use the 'hemp hand protection' from "the body shop" it has worked wonders to heal my winter dry hands and when i was working in the food industry too. it has healed people with exema and other skin conditions too. my mil works there so i get a 50% discount off their products which can be a little pricy. although you only need a pea sized bit to use on adult hands. i dont see why a similar body cream might not help her girlie parts too, if there is a problem, the scratching down there leads me to think that it is probably a yeast related thing... that causes strong odor and itchiness... ~hth~



post #18 of 23

oops i meant to add that you arent a terrible mom or smom for over reacting, these things get frustrating, as long as you guys talked about it and perhaps why you are so frustrated might help her to remember to wash or wipe or what have you in future... and in the act of apologising it could be the perfectopener for the does it itch or does wiping hurt etc conversation...





post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 

"the scratching down there leads me to think that it is probably a yeast related thing"
Thing is, she is not itching or anything and not complaining about any discomfort.  She has in the past and we've treated her for redness and pain/stinging that I associated with not wiping (so we've had the why-it's-important-for-girls-to-stay-clean-and-wipe conversation a couple times).  Sometimes we'll just look over and she'll have a hand down the front of her pants, Al Bundy style.  And we tell her "get your hand out of your pants".  I have not had the "where do babies come from" or any sex talk yet - I am thinking that will happen when she seems ready and more curious, and when I'm not worried about confusing her.  However, I think I have to have another convo about how our lady bits are sensitive and need to be kept a certain way, and reiterate the need for proper wiping.  Tonight when she was going to bed, and I thought she'd gone to the bathroom (she hadn't, just hadn't flushed the last time she went), I told her that we BOTH need to wash our hands before leaving the bathroom, that I've not been doing what I should be doing either, and that we can remind each other to do it.  I use a bar of dial soap for myself in the shower and grew up on Ivory and Dial, so I have Dial antibacterial liquid by the sink, but perhaps I can change it to something more fun and nice-smelling (and also something more natural and gentler on her dry hands) to make it more appealing, and some matching hand cream too.  Since she does like to mimic me and do things together, and even follow me around, I guess I should be setting the proper example. Perhaps I can tell her that since we are the ladies of the house we need to look after one another (more team/sisterhood appeal?) and remind her to let me know if there is ever anything she wants to talk about or anything she's worried about like pain or itchiness or anything else going on "down there".


You know, sometimes I have these "a-ha!" moments, and then life, and in some cases my own negativity, gets in the way.  Sometimes the first annoying thing she does totally wipes out the warm and fuzzy feelings and positive ideas I have about being her mom.  And I hate that.  It sucks.  I have this little girl who adores me (and I really do love her too, don't get me wrong, and I have crept in and looked at her while she's sleeping, cried at her first swim lesson, cried just the other week as she read out of a book, cried last year when we dropped her at kindergarten...you get the idea), and wants to be with me, even if I'm just going downstairs to get something, wants to do what I do to be like me, snuggles with me in front of the tv.  And I let the "small" things get to me and have me look at her in a not-so-loving light.  I wish I could just get over it.

post #20 of 23

A small thing that helped encourage hand-washing with dd was I took her to a store that sells really cool soaps (It sold locally-made soap that came in great scents like chocolate and cool shapes like cupcakes) and let dd pick out her own "special" soap.  I said when that soap was done I'd take her back and she could choose a different kind (she had had trouble choosing between all the ones she really liked).  She sure started going through soap a lot faster then, lol!


Also, if she has the habit of putting her hands down her pants I'd start asking her to go wash her hands every time I saw her with her hands down her pants.  Not in a big OMG that's DISGUSTING kind of way, but just with the explanation that when you touch where pee (or poo) comes out then you probably get a bit of pee (or poo) on your hands and that can make you sick if it ends up in your mouth, so please go and wash your hands (the long-winded explanation wouldn't be needed after the first few repetitions just something more like "you had your hands down your pants can you please go and wash your hands").  That would have the effect of making sure that her hands are more likely to be clean most of the time with the added bonus that the chore of having to wash her hands so often might make her less inclined to put her hands down her pants in the first place.


As for the dry hands I'd first of all look for very mild, ideally perfume-free, non-anti-bacterial soaps as they'll be gentler (there are lots of great organic, natural options out there, but I've also found that Dove for sensitive skin works quite well in terms of not drying out skin).  The pp's suggestion of using Lansinoh as healing salve, and then switching to a cream once the skin was healed enough that it doesn't sting would be my recommendation as well.  And again I'd be careful to look for perfume-free products.  I find that makes a big difference for me at least.

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