15 answers

How Do I Get My Teen to Take Pride in Herself

I have a very beautiful teenage daughter, 14 to be exact. The problem is I cant get her to take care of herself. I am always asking her if she has brushed her teeth, put on deoderant, taken a shower, brushed her hair, etc..... I usually get the remark "NOT YET" followed by a dirty look and the horride eye rolling. I find myself telling her several times during the day to do all of the above before she finally does what she is told and that is only after she stomps through the house. It seems like no matter what I say to her it just doesnt sink in. I have two other daughters, one older and one younger and they have never given me trouble taking care of themselves. I know how cruel other kids can be and I am so worried that she will be teased in school if she doesnt start taking more pride in herself. I tell her often that she is very beautiful but she doesnt seem to care. My oldest daughter had even tried talking to her with no luck. I am pretty sure once she gets interested in boys she will change her attitude but I cant wait for that. Any advice on how to handle this matter.

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I was having problems like that with my daughter, shes 13. I took one evening after work just to take her shopping for shampoo, body wash... things that are just for her.... allowing her to make the choices. She ended up liking the scents that Teen Spirit has in body wash and matching scented deodorant. And is in the shower at least daily, sometimes more :-) Sometimes as a middle child, you want things that are just for you and most of the time you want to stand out from being in the center. Maybe a little mom n me time will help.

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I too was like this!
I hated my Mother's input and it was plain and simple rebellion against her. My Mother was/is very shallow and vain, not that I am implying you are I am just sharing my experience.
I was not into looks and I loved the fact that it irked my Mother.
Ironically it was the school bully who changed my habits. He noticed one day that my legs weren't shaved and called me out in front of my classmates. As much fun as it was to stick it to my Mother keeping the bully away was more important.
After that I started to do just enough to fit in, which is pretty much how I still am. As soon as I am at home its back into shorts and a T-shirt but you owuldn't know that if you saw me on the street and I am happy, in a good marriage, successful in my career and I love my life.
Maybe she is ok with who she is but trust me at some point she will at least attempt to fit in with the crowd.

Your 14 year old is caught in the middle. She's not the oldest, and she's not the youngest. Sometimes she'll want to be treated like she IS the oldest, and other times as if she's the youngest. And I suspect she's figured out how to pull mom's trigger . . . and then when it works, she rolls her eyes at you and you get even more frustrated.

Start by remembering that this is a stage. The even years tend to be the hardest ones. 15 is coming. Meanwhile, you want her to take pride in herself. What does she do well ? (obviously not personal care routines) Praise her on the things she does well, especially on the process, not the result. We can't always control the results of our efforts,but we can still take pride in the process that got us there -- how we tackled a problem, how hard we worked on something, etc. Be sure to notice those things in her life, and praise her for them. That way when she puts effort into something and that she would BELEVE you when you praise her, she'll really blossom when you do and feel good about the praise.

So she balks at personal hygeine. My eldest was like that. We had to practically force her into the shower, and make sure she actually washed her hair. (or we sent her back in -- I'm sure there were times she got it thoroughly wet and didn't wash it; except that with the conditioner it would be easier to comb -- who knows?) I, too, worried that she would have no friends, etc., but she got VERY involved in high school activities, and in a sorority in college, and she began to do things in college that you'd have thought we were abusing her for having her do (like going mountain climbing and hiking in the woods) She's now an educator on a tall ship, and she teaches kids about sailing traditional ships, about marine life, and marine ecology. She is amazing with middle school aged kids, because, she admits, "I was a real brat then, and I know what it's like. I can handle them-- I think they're a challenge, and I get to win!" She's funny about it, but she does live in a world with no on board shower !! (we laugh about that ! You get to swim to clean up, or a deck shower in a bathing suit periodically, and then a real shower in port.)

I would try to order my language to you can do this "after you get such-and-such done", or 'when you get it done", and if she really wants to go out with her friends, she'll get the hygeine stuff done. Try not to get emotional about it, but be matter of fact about it. If you don't buy into the emotional stuff, she'll catch onto the rules, and she'll learn she can control whether she gets to do something or not. Get cleaned up, and you can go out. Stay dirty? Well, okay, then you can stay home. She'll figure it out. And one day, she'll surprise you by getting all cleaned up, and THEN asking to go somewhere or have a friend over. :-)

but, do remember, it's not permanent. It's a stage. And hygeine sounds like it is just something to fight over. Sometime later, there will be a different item for controversy, but for now, it's this one. . . .:-) But with this one, try to put in place the kind of behavior on your side of the game that helps you do use the same patterns as the issues become broader as she ages. Be calm, know what you want for a result, and work toward achieving it. Be sure not to remove love as a disciplinary action, and be sure to praise her for the things she does well. As her self esteem grows, over things SHE is proud of, she will begin to take pride in other areas of her life, too. And she will really warm up to having Mom be proud of her - which will help to make her want you to be proud of her future choices in life. :-)

try the opposite of what you are doing. do not say anything to her about brushing her teeth,bathing or putting deoderant on. it may throw her for a loop. you are right,once she is interested in boys she will change her attitude. may be if the kids she hangs with say something she will do what she needs to do. she will grow out of it. she is a teenager and there will be many more things that she will go through besides this that present issues.

Theres a great book called Reviving Ophelia. It addresses raising our girls with good self esteem. Maybe you could try some fun stuff with her to get her interested. You could pick up a computer program that allows you to do makeovers using photos of her, you and your other 2 girls. Maybe take her to get a free makeover at a department store etc. Show her how much fun it can be to play with taking care of yourself!!

Hope this helped!!

I am a soon-to-be-mom so I don't necessarily have experience from a mother's perspective. However, I recall high school very well and can give advice as if I were one of her high school buddies.
Other kids can be very cruel and she is at the age where most kids are getting picked on for the stupidest things by the bullies. Yes, I'm saying that she is probably being bullied in school and took on an "I just don't care" mindset. This doesn't mean that she really feels this way, but that she doesn't know how else to deal with it.
My suggestion: Get to the bottom of why she's feeling the way she is. Now is the time to have a heart-to-heart. Take her somewhere to spend some time with her and get down to the real reason why she doesn't care; because right now she is putting on a facade and acting tough when on the inside she is (probably) screaming out for help. Every bullied person (in my high school anyway) acted the same way your daughter is acting and it should not be ignored. The scars of high school could last a lifetime!


Maybe if you let her go on a day she is off school and then compliment her when she does clean up---something like Gee your hair looks nice today or something. And how are her friends? Are they into the whole grooming thing yet? What are your daughter's interests? Maybe if you take an interest in her friends or her interests and shy away from the grooming she will come around. has this been going on for a while or did it just start since school left out for the summer?

good luck!


Having helped in rearing my step-son through this difficult age and stage, let me begin by saying that we approached this as we any issue where we give instructions or expectations and they are not followed. At 14, your daughter is old enough to know how to follow directions. That being said, if she doesn't want to "fuss" over herself, don't sweat it. However, she does need to bath, use deodorant, comb hair & brush teeth, at least daily. For us, the problem was that at his mother's house, my step-son didn't have to do any of those things if he didn't want to. (He once came to our house smelling so badly that the first thing my husband did was make him go take a shower.) After that incident, we instructed him that if his mother allowed him to go all week without bathing or using deodorant, there was nothing we could do about, but that if he came to our home in that condition again, there would be consequences, and not positive ones. My husband was very good about letting him know that for us, this was no longer about "if he felt like it", but about whether or not he was going to follow our rules. In our home, everyone takes a bath/shower daily. In our home, everyone combs their hair, unless you get a buzz cut. (BTW, that particular "threat" worked very well, b/c my son did NOT want his hair buzzed, so he learned very quickly to make sure that he washed his hair & combed it.) Obviously, that's not something you could "threaten" your daughter with. However, if she had longer hair & does not want to take care of it, you could consider telling her that you'll take her to have it cut short so that it's not so much trouble. (Would shorter hair interest her? If so, use that as a way to encourge her ~ take her to get a haircut & style that she likes. It doesn't have to be expensive, just something new & different.) I wouldn't worry about make-up, perfume, or the fussing, just that she needs to care for herself. Oh, one other thing that worked for my husband ~ in the beginning when it seemed like he was "testing" to see if we were willing to "force" him to have proper hygiene, my husband told him that should he choose not to care for himself, we might have to consider extreme measure. In this case my husband "threatened" to help my son with his personal hygiene. Naturally, my husband got "You wouldn't dare!" from my step-son. To which my husband replied, Do you really want to find out? Thankfully, just the possitibility of MORE interference was enough to get my step-son to step up & care for himself in the appropriate manner. Don't get me wrong, there were still occasions when we'd have to ask him if he "needed help" with it, but if we asked that particular question, he quickly took care of it. He's now 18 & does fine taking care of himself. In fact, his hair seems to be his pride & joy some days. ;)

Have you asked your daughter why she prefers to avoid deoderant and such? If so, what has her response been?

I think some kids avoid taking that next step because they really want to hold onto childhood and the freedom to *not* devote so much time to self-care. It seems between you and your other two daughters, she certainly has enough role modeling should she choose to follow suit.

I am not sure why you cannot wait, but I've learned with kids, they eventually come around on their own, at their own speed and in their own time. Pushing only makes them feel inferior and often makes them even less likely to comply. Learn why she isn't interested and if the answer is simply, "I'm just not!" with an eye roll, tell her that's okay, you still love her no matter what and give her a hug. Feel free to tell her your fear of other kids being cruel to her and love her enough to want to help her avoid anything like that happening. Then back off and stop pushing. Like you said, once she discovers boys, it's all over from there : )

Don't nag her. She'll do it when she is ready and is probably putting it off even more because of your constant "reminders". She knows that she needs to do it, she is choosing not to.

Hi H.,

I was like that as a child. Didn't want to shower or comb my hair. I had terrible acne and was healthy but carried more weight than the other girls. Many times I would run a bath cause my parents told me to then just sit there on the toilet seat for an acceptable amount of time and walk out as if they wouldn't know I hadn't actually bathed! I have my 6th grade photo to prove it. Anyway, I eventually grew out of this and yes, it probably had something to do with boys. She'll be fine, just keep on her but for health sake, she can handle the other kids herself. If she's not worried what others think at 14, she's doing just fine, she just likes to do things on her own schedule. And consider yourself lucky if she isn't into boys by this age. Half the young girls out there that age are wearing way too much makeup and short shorts with "juicy" on the bum. I can speak from lots of experience how cruel kids can be, from that experience I have thicker skin and more self confidence than others, espcially the ones who put others down. Anyhoo, just my two cents but as long as she's healthy I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Hope this helps.


I remember going through this exact same thing as a young teen,(12-14). The more my mother harped on it, the more I fought it. If she would of just left me alone, everything would of been fine. At this age I did not want her telling me anything. I just wanted to do things on my own. I pretty much leave my teen daughter alone, and I have never had this type of issue with her.

I am going through the same thing with my step daughter. We have to constantly ask her if she brushed her teeth (most of the time the answer is 'no') took a shower etc... I am not sure if this is an age thing or what as my niece who is 13 is the same way. We praise my step daughter and tell her she looks nice and that she is pretty but for some reason she has no interest in they hygeine and she got her 'monthly' when she was 12 so thisis very important. I have talked to her about kids being cruel ina round about way and not using her as an example. It has gotten a tad better lately. She seems to have more interest in make up and shaving so maybe it is an age thing and just try to wait it out a little bit longer.
Good luck!

Do you think she may be suffering from depression?

My daughter hit puberty at the age of 8 years old, and had to wear deoderent, and so forth... It was hard to get her to do this at first, and it took alot of time and argueing with her on my part... Still at times she forgets to put deoderant on and I have to remind her, by this time she has to wash herself... Try to get her in a routine in the morning, and I know it is hard, but once you start doing that for about a month it becomes like a habbit... As soon as she is done eating breakfast make her get into the shower, brush her teeth, ect... Put her stuff that she needs on the counter of the bathroom sink, and you might want to put a cute note on it... Another way is to do a mommy and me day, take her out, just her out for the day, get yours and her hair done, then go to the mall and shop with her and let her pick out the personal care products that she wants, cause she might think you are pushing this on her... Make it a fun cute day, because as you know with teenages, especially girls try to pull away and will want to do the oppisite of what you ask them to do...

I was having problems like that with my daughter, shes 13. I took one evening after work just to take her shopping for shampoo, body wash... things that are just for her.... allowing her to make the choices. She ended up liking the scents that Teen Spirit has in body wash and matching scented deodorant. And is in the shower at least daily, sometimes more :-) Sometimes as a middle child, you want things that are just for you and most of the time you want to stand out from being in the center. Maybe a little mom n me time will help.

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