25 answers

How Do I Tell a Parent Their Child Smells?

I am a teacher of 4 and 5 year olds. For a little more than a month, my assistant and I have noticed that one of the students has a strong body odor. Even sometimes in the early morning, when she first come in, it's like the child has not had a bath. I don't expect her to take a bath every single day, but on some days the odor is unbearable and very strong. I have a conference with the parent this week. The other children are really beginning to notice and sometimes don't want to be around the child. How can I say something without offending the parent?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I had to reschedule the first conference and had it this week. I did address my concerns to the parent. I gently told her of the problem and it turns out she already knew and it was a matter of bad personal hygiene along with stubbornness. M. told me she has to fight the child on some nights to take a bath. She was aware of the smell and said she and dad would sit down with the child and address my concerns. Wipes were also sent to school to help with the hygiene issue. I spoke to the child privately on this. In the last few days, things have been getting better. Thanks for your help.

Featured Answers

If someone had to tell me that about my child, I would not be offended I would be absolutely mortified. How embarrassing for the parent but this is something they defineately need to hear for their child's sake.
I remember my boss had to have this same conversation with my coworker. Ugh!

5 moms found this helpful

I would say that you have noticed that the child has a very strong body odor and you are concerned about her. She may have an underlying medical issue that needs to be addressed--like an infection (yeast/bladder infection) or improper washing etc. Tell the parents that you hate to be this forthright, but other children have noticed and are complaining to you as well. As them to please remedy the situation and or take the child to the doctor. Best wishes!

M

5 moms found this helpful

I disagree with calling cps. Have a talk with the parents, let them know the odor is becoming apparent to the students. Not easy to hear maybe but pretty important.

4 moms found this helpful

More Answers

Tough one.
In other difficult conversations, I try to use the good-good-bad approach.
In this case, that would be something like:

"Mr and Mrs Smith, Mary is a very bright child and she is just a pleasure to have in class, between her great enthusiasm and cooperative attitude. But I've noticed that she is having a bit of body odor at times, and I am just bringing it to your attention because kids this age can be unintentionally mean sometimes. I would hate for her to experience any of that which might make her school experience less than 100% positive. Is there anything I can do to help with this?"

14 moms found this helpful

I heard a story recently about a little 5 y/o girl who had “hygiene issues” and missed a lot of school then found dead. Come to find out her bio-father and step mother had been physically abusing her and eventually killed her-not to be depressing but sometimes we miss obvious warning signs because we don’t want to talk about uncomfortable situations. Not saying this is the case but bring it up lightly-if you are uncomfortable you can always ask the school nurse or social worker to step in

6 moms found this helpful

You are the teacher and this child is clearly in some kind of distress. She could be in a situation of extreme poverty (no hot water to bath with or wash clothing/bedding) or her parents could be neglecting her. The house maybe a hoarding situation. Be direct, be kind, but certainly do something. If you are hesitating because you do not want to offend the parents, focus your attention on the needs of this innocent child. You may be the only advocate that she has.

5 moms found this helpful

As a supervisor of adults I've had to give this message. I've found it's best to be direct in a kind way. I'd mention the smell towards the end of the conversation after telling them the good things going on with their daughter.
I would be sure to word it as a situation that needs attention because it does affect their daughter's success with peers.

5 moms found this helpful

If someone had to tell me that about my child, I would not be offended I would be absolutely mortified. How embarrassing for the parent but this is something they defineately need to hear for their child's sake.
I remember my boss had to have this same conversation with my coworker. Ugh!

5 moms found this helpful

I would say that you have noticed that the child has a very strong body odor and you are concerned about her. She may have an underlying medical issue that needs to be addressed--like an infection (yeast/bladder infection) or improper washing etc. Tell the parents that you hate to be this forthright, but other children have noticed and are complaining to you as well. As them to please remedy the situation and or take the child to the doctor. Best wishes!

M

5 moms found this helpful

If this child is a bed wetter, she does need a bath every day. Is the smell urine or worse? If so, I suggest you don't skirt the issue and just send a note home. If there is a school nurse, perhaps she/he could contact the parents? Either way, you will be doing this child a favor in the long run.

Personally, I would be wondering if the child is being neglected in other ways, such as nutrition as well as personal hygene.

Please keep us posted.

Blessings...

5 moms found this helpful

Can you talk to the school nurse about how to approach it as a health issue? Maybe she could sit in on the conference to support you.

5 moms found this helpful

1 / 3
Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.