Teen braces - NZ DadsSo how do you approach the delicate issue of hygiene with your teenage son? Always fun when you’re likely to be greeted with grunts or stony silences however to quote Macbeth “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly”.  

Discuss how they need to take care of themself in a healthy way what with all the changes going on with their body like skin becoming oilier and sweat glands becoming more active. Using an anti-bacterial body wash might help but a mild soap will work just as well.  As for washing hair discuss the pros and cons of daily hair washing what with all the chemicals and perfumes in those sorts of products. Sometimes washing their hair daily can aggravate oily hair and acne.

Remember be gentle and loving when handling delicate issues like hygiene. They will be sensitive or embarrassed discussing “icky” personal issues like this with dad, so you need stay calm, have a sense of humour but don’t tease them – it’s not the time for “bad dad jokes”. I’d suggest also not to physically forcing your teen to bathe or brush teeth or trying to shame them by calling them names, telling them that they smell and that you or other that people don’t want to be around him.

You could enlist some help from others. Never underestimate or undervalue the natural consequences. Kids can be very blunt and many won’t hesitate to tell your child that his breath stinks. Maybe have his girlfriend tell him he smells bad or his favourite aunty to say how handsome he is when his hair is washed and brushed. Sometimes a trusted teacher or school guidance counsellor might talk about hygiene in a class situation. But really this is an issue you, as a parent, need to bring up and use those other people as a backup, like a reinforcement.

But back to the serious issue of smells and talking to your kids. Like all the house rules:

  • Start early;
  • Be consistent and patient; (oh, so very patient!);
  • Be a good role model “You gotta walk the walk if you wanna talk the talk!”;
  • Make sure your information is up to date.

Some of the advice you got when you were younger could be outdated or may never have been true in the first place. Remember being told toothpaste on pimples dries them up quicker (nope!) or that hand sanitizer is better than soap and water against germs. (No again – it just dries your hands out with the high percentage of alcohol contained.)

What about the favourite “only dirty people get lice so wash your hair every day”. Hmm, I wonder if a shampoo company started that rumour to increase sales.

Then there’s “sweat causes body odour.” Ah HA! This was a test people! I’ve already mentioned bacteria breeding in certain parts of your body accumulate over time and combined with the sweat to cause the stench. I hope you all passed that one.

  • Think of their intake.

Remember how I mentioned boys eat anything not nailed down It seems teenage boys seem to fart a lot than the ladies,  and could be certain foods (eg garlic, fatty fried foods, fish, liver, eggs, legumes) and drinks, like caffeine, soft or energy drinks, might be the cause of an increase in sweating and body odour. To help digestion try adding in a probiotic into his diet which as healthy bacteria that live in our gut will help keep “things moving along”.

  • Finally, if you can, pair up then divide and conquer.

Traditionally we have mums talk to daughters about teen hygiene issues and dad with sons. Kids, especially tweenies and teenagers usually look to a same-gendered parent as a role model for hygiene and behaviour. But a soft womanly comment on the attractiveness of a man who is clean and smells nice might be better from mum, and dads, you can still give compliments on your son’s hygiene – he might appreciate it more.

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