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Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness:  Your Teen's Hygiene

Every one of my kids has gone through a "grungy" phase in which they didn't want to shower or wash their hair nearly as often as they should.  Ironically, this phase occurred not when they were toddlers but when they were in their early teens.  Unfortunately, the hormonal changes brought about by adolescence means that teens need to bathe more often than in the past, not less.  At the same time, they can be very sensitive to being reminded to do something they consider so personal.  That's why parents need to tread carefully when talking to their teens about hygiene.  Here are some strategies to help.

  • Make sure you wake your teen up in time to shower every morning.  Once he is in the habit of waking up in a hot shower, he won't have to be reminded.
  • If you teen plays a sport, encourage him to shower as soon as he gets home from practice.
  • Offer to buy your teen his own brand of grooming products, including shampoo, soap and deodorant, but insist that he use them.
  • If your teen is having problems with acne, encourage him to change his pillowcase every day or two.  Any dead cells that slough off his face during the night can decay and rub back into his skin the following night.
  • Insist that your teen change his socks and underwear every morning.
  • During the summer months, have your teen strip and air his bed at least once a week. 
  • Don't let him out of the house in dirty clothes.
  • Make sure your teen receives regular dental care and that the dentist talks with him about the importance of daily brushing and flossing.
  • Teens with long hair should shampoo it every day during the summer and several times a week when the weather is cooler.
Fortunately, the "grungy" phase will not last long and your teen will be back to his normal self again soon.

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