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Smelly Teen? How to Talk to Your Son About Hygiene

At Sundance Canyon Academy, we get questions from parents who deal with a slew of teenage issues. From mental health concerns to physical health concerns, we hear it all. Today, we’re writing on the topic of talking to your teenage son about his personal hygiene when he gets too smelly. Many parents worry that they’re alone in having a smelly teen who doesn’t care about his hygiene. You’re not alone! If you have questions about other teenage behavior, contact us today.

When kids reach puberty and start the transition into adulthood, their bodies go through a lot of changes. Unfortunately for those around them, one of those changes includes developing body odor. Somewhere around middle school age, kids start to smell bad. Their sweat gets a little stinkier than it used to be, their feet and shoes start to smell more, and they don’t always seem to notice it.

Ideally, you teach your kid how to use deodorant and remind them to shower every day. Some kids pick up on personal hygiene habits pretty easily, but others don’t. Some kids aren’t bothered by the smell of their body odor. They don’t see the point in showering regularly, and they’re perfectly content to wear the same dirty clothes day after day.

As a parent, it can be so frustrating to have a smelly son! Other parents might give you weird looks. Your son’s teachers might bring it up at parent-teacher conferences. Not to mention that you and your family have to live with the stench.

If this describes your home life, it’s time to learn how to talk to your son about his hygiene habits.

How to talk to your son about his personal hygiene

Find out why your son isn’t taking care of himself.

In all likelihood, you’ve already talked to your son about his hygiene.

You’ve reminded him to shower and brush his teeth. You’ve told him to put on deodorant and wear clean clothes. He just doesn’t seem to care. If that’s the case, you need to find out why he doesn’t care about taking care of himself.

Ask questions like:

  1. Is he purposefully trying to rebel against your directions and irritate you?

  2. Is it a way to act out at school and set himself apart from the crowd?

  3. Does he not understand the physical health benefits of staying clean?

  4. Does he see it as too much effort to take care of himself?

  5. Does he have poor time management skills and keeps running out of time for hygiene practices?

Address the real issue

Once you’ve figured out what the real issue is, focus on addressing it.

If the problem is something as simple as poor time management, help him create a schedule that will give him time for showering and brushing his teeth.

If he doesn’t want to take time away from fun activities for the “work” of personal hygiene, set rules about personal hygiene. Hopefully, he will outgrow his smelly phase and see the importance of staying clean. In the meantime, set some clear standards along with consequences for failing to meet those standards.

Examples of personal hygiene rules include:

  1. You need to do a load of laundry every weekend to have clean clothes for the week.

  2. Each night before bed, set out the clean clothes that you will wear for school tomorrow.

  3. You need to have showered every day by 10:00 pm.

  4. Before school every morning, brush your teeth and put on deodorant.

  5. You need to wear socks with your sneakers.

Getting additional help

If your son is reluctant to talk to you about his hygiene, you might be able to enlist the help of others. Try having his guidance counselor or school nurse speak with him about it. If he has an older sibling or cousin he respects, ask them to talk to your son about his smelliness.

For most teen boys, smelliness is a phase. Once they learn that their poor hygiene affects peer relationships and romantic relationships, they tend to clean up their act. They still need to learn how to manage their time and keep up with their cleanliness routine, but they figure it out.

Some teens that struggle with mental health problems may have a harder time managing healthy personal hygiene habits. Teen boys who have mental health problems like depression, low self-esteem, ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), or ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) might have a harder time caring about their appearance. For them, a lack of personal hygiene is a side effect of a much deeper problem.

If you are worried that your teen son’s poor hygiene is due to mental health problems, get help from a professional counselor.

Many teen boys with mental health concerns see progress from attending a boarding school for troubled boys. The students adhere to a daily schedule that helps them develop healthy patterns, and they attend regular therapy sessions to address the root of their problems.

Contact us at 866-255-3708 for more information about our program.

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