My oldest is almost 12 and he gets pretty ripe pretty quickly. It's not an underarm odor; it's a funk. He is also really spacey--not detail oriented--and from time to time he wipes carelessly and you can smell that he went to the bathroom. He is not yet self-conscious enough to pay attention to how he smells, but if I say, "You need a bath," he protests and feels insulted. I had a little talk with him and just told him that he's now at the age where he needs to shower every day. He was agreeable, but after a few days, he kind of forgot about it, and if I remind him he gets put out. I also suspects that he sometimes puts on dirty clothes. Any ideas?
- topicPre Teens
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How do you let your preteen boy know he stinks without hurting his feelings?
My kids went through the same thing, and I told them straight out that I was saying it a heck of a lot nicer than their peers would, so get over it. If you don't want to be told that you stink, then remember to bathe. If you can't remember to bathe, then don't whine when I remind you.
I pretty sure that no child has ended up in therapy because mom taught them about personal hygiene.
This is a great age to teach kids to do their own laundry. One issue we had was favorite clothes that they wanted wear over and over. How to throw the thing in the wash was helpful information for them.
And we did do a trip to buy soap they liked, deodorant of their own choosing, etc. I felt giving them some control over the process might help. I've no idea if it DID help, but it made me feel like I was being nicer.
One of my kids has special needs and this was esp. difficult for her, but if I can teach my autism spectrum adolescent to bathe and use deodorant, you can teach your neural typical child.
(I'm usually a really nice mom, but nice did not work for my kids on this issue. )
Yeah, I remember at around 11-12 years old my mom told me that I could start showering more often. And I remember being confused as to why. It didn't really make sense to me at all that just because I was a certain age I needed to shower more often. Maybe if she had told me "you need to shower more often because you get stinkier now or something like that lol)" it would have made sense to me.
I used to work for a boychoir, and we'd have the boys for camps and tours, sometimes up to 7 days at a time. We'd have to remind the boys DAILY to do basic things like change underwear, take showers (using soap and shampoo), etc. If individual kids didn't get the message from hearing our group announcements, we'd approach them 1-on-1 to remind them about basic hygiene. It gave me great appreciation that most kids just do not learn this stuff on their own, they really need to be taught, in very specific & clear ways, how to keep themselves clean!
As a funny story, we had one mom who was horrified when her son came home from 3 days of camp, and all his clean underwear was still folded neatly in his suitcase, just as she had packed it. That's when we realized that we had to tell the boys "put on clean underwear every day" and not just "wear clean clothes."
I like to tell the story about how every single grown up remembers the stinky kid from middle school and you can't usually smell your own stink. Don't be that guy :)
Yesterday I asked him to get his things ready for this morning, since we have a guest and she's sleeping in his room. I asked "do you have underwear?" he pointed out to me that he only changes his underwear when he showers. WTH???? Thankfully he showers 5 out of 7 days because of sports but REALLY?????
My dh says to be frank about it. He was the one that got to chat with the gym teacher about showering daily. He was horrified and to this day doesn't understand why his parents didn't tell him.
Yes, yes, yes, please please please tell him. It will probably be embarassing for both of you, but I think it's important to establish that trust: "Son, you can count on me to tell you when you smell in the privacy of our home so you can fix it before you're in less intimate circles".
I'll just say it. My mother wasn't/isn't big on grooming or talking about grooming. Puberty was a nightmare for me. I had to figure out what to do about my armpit hair on my own, and then coach her through procuring me the needed supplies. I WISH a loving Aunt had just pulled me aside and told me that my underarms were getting furry, let's take a trip down the obnoxiously pink aisle at the supermarket.
That, and many other adolescent nightmares, all born out of my mother's inability to discuss grooming with me.
Either he, like me, knows and is desperately trying to figure it out all by himself (perhaps he doesn't realize that 1 adult male = 1 daily shower + 1 clean set of clothes + deodorant if so desired), or he doesn't know and is about to be told by a rude classmate.
Please tell him.
I have a girl not a boy and she is a couple years younger, but this is almost exactly what I told her when we first talked about the body odor issue. She showers daily but doesn't use the soap enough. We had to progress from this to me being a little more upfront about her need to use soap, I also brought her to the store and let her choose her own soap and loofa, and I reminded her to make sure she applies enough pressure that the deodrant stays on her skin (versus lightly letting it touch her). She said she was a little embarrassed because her grandma had talked to her and she overheard her telling me I really needed to have a talk with my dd about it in a gentle way also. I told her I was sorry but that we wanted to tell her gently before her classmates told her rudely and that I trusted she would come up with a plan so we didn't have to have embarrassing conversations again. I also told her that I struggled with the same thing as a child, as did my mother and brother, and that the beginning of puberty is a tough time for this for everyone because you go from smelling great all the time to smelling sweaty overnight. So far she has been on top of this and proud to be on top of it.
It is hard to have an embarrassing conversation but some parenting conversations are the tough five minute ones with no easy way to put things. If you have already talked to him about some of these things then it might be easiest to sit him down and tell him as gently as possible that you realize he may be feeling embarrassed about some of the changes in his boy but he really does need to come up with a plan on his own or you will have to help him come up with one and he might be more embarrassed about that.
Some of his resistance may stem from a worry that this isn't normal or a desire to ignore the changes in the hope that they will go away. If you haven't already purchased some books about puberty or gone to a class about puberty with him you might want to consider doing that so he understands that these body changes and the emotions he feels about them are normal. Talking to the doctor about them may also put his mind at ease, it helped my dd when the doctor answered her questions about whether the changes that come with puberty are normal or not. If there is a guy in his life who can take over some of the conversations that may also be helpful.
I teach high school kids and they can be rude to classmates who don't practice good hygeine. Sadly, we do keep soap, deoderant and washing powder because we have some kids whose parents either can't or don't make them shower or wash their clothes.
My SIL is one of the worst mothers ever (I could go on for days) and her son is 11. He bathes once a week. They live in FL. It's not good. He gets teased at school and she just doesn't get it. No, he doesn't like to bathe, but it is her job as a parent to deal with this. When he comes to my house during vacations he bathes every day b/c it is part of our routine (all my kids have bathed every day since they were little- we live in humid, hot new orleans). For Christmas we gave all three of her children bath sets which were age appropriate. They loved them.
For my kids and my nephews, I just use humor...."whew baby, you stinky!" it always gets a laugh and then they'll jump in the shower! My nephews really love that Ax body spray too. Makes them feel grown up! Just make sure to tell them that a little goes a loooooong way! My whole house be smelling like a teen boy somedays!
I don't much care for axe as I'm sensitive to smells however, I do make my own blends of essential oils in a carrier which can be used by anyone in the house.
Also, part of our daily routine is a shower at least once a day. Some days we choose two showers. I gently tell my son, "we were out sweating like pigs today so why don't you hop in the shower now so I can get in a little after that and I'll have hot water." I tend to use the need to be concerned for others regarding hot water as a reason to get teens in the shower.
- How do you let your preteen boy know he stinks without hurting his feelings?
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