11 Year Old and His Personal Hygiene - Help!!!!

Updated on March 06, 2014
M.. asks from Appleton, WI
16 answers

I seriously sit here day & night and think... where did I go wrong? what did I miss?

My 11 year old son will not take a shower. We have to fight with him to take one and then when he finally gets in he will be in there for 30 minutes and then we have to fight to get him out. The kicker is that if I'm not sitting in there watching his every move he will end up not even washing his hair. UGH!!!!

He refuses to brush his teeth. He will look me straight in the eye and tell me that he brushed them when you clearly can see that he has not.

We have taken everything away, privileges, electronics, tv, everything and anything and it still doesn't work. So now I'm getting to the point where I"m questioning my parenting. Is it me or is it his age? Any suggestions???

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answers from Dallas on

Could you use the carrot/stick routine? If you have to bug him to shower all week, he's grounded for the weekend. If he showers all week, liberal friend vista and fun stuff all weekend. I have no experience with this age group but I think I would just tell him: you are not getting in my car like that, going to so and so's like that etc. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My son is almost 11. He likes Axe body wash & deodorant. Would he like to go to the store with you & pick out the scents he likes best?

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answers from Wichita Falls on

This is completely normal. Adolescent males of most species goes through a grunge stage. It will get better, when he decides that he wants girls to pay attention.

We have to fight to get our boy into the shower. After 10 min. we turn off the hot water. If he hasn't washed his hair, he has to wash it in cold water. You just have to keep on him.

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answers from Washington DC on

My nephew in particular went through a greasy stage. One of the things we told the sks is that if they were not clean (clean enough not to smell) and dressed properly for an occasion, they didn't go. I have since become astonished on the number of young people who will have plans to spend the night somewhere and not bring so much as a toothbrush.

You can 1. ask him (maybe your DH should) why he doesn't actually shower. Did he hear something somewhere? and 2. get the dentist involved if he's not brushing. My SD wouldn't brush...to the tune of $$$$ because she got cavities. DH did not actually do so, but were it DD, she'd be working some of that off with chores. And I would tell him that if he chooses not to bathe correctly, he chooses not to be able to visit friends, go out to dinner, etc. When he chooses to be clean, he can socialize. Make the consequence fit the crime, so to speak.

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answers from New York on

Very common at this age. Soon you won't be able to get him out of the shower. Someone will mention it at school and he will change. In the meantime good luck. Not sure what else you can do.

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answers from Washington DC on

TOTALLY normal!!

My 11 year old will spend 30 minutes in the shower singing and whatnot...what helped? His friends at school noticed he didn't smell good and said so. We kept telling him that people will notice...and they did.

The more you fight him on this? The more he will dig his heels in and NOT do it.

Brushing teeth? Fine. get cavities. take him to the dentist and have his full treatment done. let THEM tell him he has poor oral hygiene...and what will happen if he doesn't start taking care of his teeth - not just the cavities, the root canals, the loss of teeth...does he want to be a teenager with no teeth or dentures??

Shower? Fine. Let your friends tell you they don't want to hang with you because you smell bad.

Summertime was the worst for us. He would say "I was in the pool" so I'm not dirty...no you aren't dirty but the chlorine is making your skin dry.

STOP fighting. he doesn't want to shower? Okay. Let me get some Lysol to spray where you have sat because it's just nasty...I know this is hard to do. I've BEEN THERE!!!

Now? he'll be 12 in July. Showers every night after dinner. It's part of his routine. If he wants to plug the tub so he can sit in the tub and have the shower on? Fine.

My 13 year old? NEVER had this problem. EVER. he would remind me if the schedule was off when he was younger - and now? Showers EVERY morning.

I know it's hard to stop fighting. But you really need to. Natural consequences will happen. Do you want your child to be made fun of in school? No. But you've warned him. TRIED to protect him. Now it's time to show him and however hard it is, let natural consequences happen. And it WILL happen. Will it hurt? Yes. But it will be a lesson that he will learn and it will stick with him....

good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

What is it about 11 year old boys?? We have had the same struggle with our son (wouldn't go into the shower, then would be in there for 20 minutes). It got better after both my husband and I laid down the law and told him that he had to bathe once every 24 hours. He could choose to get washed in the evening or in the morning before school, however it had to be once a day. It has gotten better, maybe he's back into the routine (except on those snowdays/vacation) and telling him that he's finishing off all the hot water seems to work, however it is frustrating. I think it's boundary testing, along with plain not wanting to interrupt whatever he's doing. We did set up a rule with both kids that they don't get to leave the house if they aren't washed and dressed. It's a logical consequence for not making oneself presentable to be out in public! I bet your son will get with the program once he misses a fun outing due to not cleaning up. Good luck!

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answers from Columbia on

I suggest that you use the "First this, then that" technique. It's likely that he just wants to go and do whatever it is that he wants to do. Play, eat a snack or meal, whatever. So you tell him, "First you must brush your teeth, and then you can go ride your bike." Or, "First you must take a shower and get your hair washed, and then you may have dinner."

It can also be applied to other things. "First you must complete your homework packet, and then you can go to the basketball game." Or, "First you must complete your chores, and then you can play outside."

If he doesn't get it done, the next thing doesn't happen.

It really is that simple. Good luck!

ETA: Oh, and be sure that you check on his work (or hair or teeth), and if he doesn't do it correctly, send him back as many times as it takes until he does it right. Explain that if he does it right the first time, you won't have to tell him again.

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answers from Washington DC on

This sounds like a problem for Dad to handle. I don't have boys, but I'm guessing that if the father gets involved, and he's a boy, he may take it more seriously.

Also men have a lot less patience with these things...the punishment may be worse. Tell him to go in the bathroom and not come out till everything is done. you can tell by smelling his hair and breath. End of story. If it doesn't get done, you may even tell him he can't go to school and that you will be notifying the school the reason why (this may just be a threat) or do it for one day.

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answers from Santa Fe on

Wow, he sounds so similar to my 10 yr old son. We have had huge battles about him taking a shower before. But we never give in. He will stay in forever but will forget to wash his hair. Basically it is a house rule...he has to shower or take a bath every other day (soon we will have to change this to every day due to stinkiness!). I have to go check on him and say time to wash hair...I'll even pour some shampoo on for him. I watched him a few times and noticed he barely scrubs, and not even all of his head. So, I remind him to scrub behind his ears, the back of his head etc. He also will lie about teeth brushing. I go to his bathroom with him and squirt out some toothpaste. It's tiring and takes too much of my time...but this is where he is at right now. I notice when a group of neighborhood boys all come over to play that they ALL just stink! I think this is the age of not caring if you bathe or not...and not being self conscious about it yet. I think when they get slightly older things will change bc they will start caring what girls think! So...I think we just have to hang in there and keep hovering over them to make sure they do it. And eventually in a year or two they will want to do it on their own.

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answers from Las Vegas on

this is normal... my son willingly took baths up until about 9 or 10, since then.... it's ALWAYS a debate.. also my son now has braces so it's very imperative that he brush, although he is better about that than showering, he will try and slip past a meal or two without brushing..
I tell my son, you need to bathe, you smell.. :) he says he can't smell it.. anyway.. I just think this is a kid being a kid..

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answers from Los Angeles on

Just trying to think outside the box a little. how about some public humiliation? tell him if he wont do it himself you will do it for him/to him and record it and show his friends. Maybe just the threat of that will get him to. But it is totally his age. While I do not have boys myself I did go on a 3 week vacation with my grandparents and my cousin who was about that age and I was about 14. My grandparents sent him in to shower in the hotel and he wouldn't really clean himself or wash is hair. The hair part was the worst for me. So one day I had enough and I dragged him back into the bathroom and washed his hair myself in the sink. I was not abusive but I was not exactly gentle. I told him if he didnt want the responsibility of taking care of his hygiene I would handle it my way. I didnt have a problem for the rest of the trip (at least).

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answers from Harrisburg on

I could have written this 2 years ago! Ugh. My son would "shower" but use nothing but water. I'd make him shower again until I could smell soap and shampoo.
Now he is 13 and showers with no issue, sometimes more than once if he plays sports because he can even tell he stinks from sweat!
I do still remind him about deoderant and tooth brushing but I think that's only because I have said it every day for almost 3 years so I am programmed to ask! But he does it, I just have to move on lol.
It will get better!

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answers from Minneapolis on

went thru this with my son who is now 31yrs old-if he wants to act like a baby-treat him like one,run a bubble bath you give him a bath just like when he was a toddler-like i told my son we will do it like this until your old enuff to do it yourself,same with teeth brushing.only took a few times before he got the picture-never had a problem since.plus telling him that when hes a teenager it could get kinda weird momma giving you a bath-and if your friends hear about it-oh lordy..did the trick..good luck



answers from Washington DC on

The neglect of hygiene is not abnormal at this age. I can tell when the 6th grade boys at my school are around because of the BO. Most start bathing regularly when they begin to take interest in girls. With any luck, that's right around the corner for you.

Buy your son whatever personal hygiene products he wants. Some boys will only use unscented items. Others love AXE. I hate the smell of AXE, but it beats funk.

Occasionally, we encounter a kid who hasn't "got it" by 12 or 13. These are usually kids who have other issues going on including learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, etc. Even most of them need only a few weeks of extra prodding to start taking better care of their hygiene.

If you think this may be the case for your son, speak to the pediatrician.

I've only known two students who began high school with this same issue. Both had intellectual impairment and severe mental health issues. Luckily this isn't your kid. So, he'll probably be showering regularly by 8th grade at the very least.

Make sure that you are laundering his clothing and bedding as that is often neglected as well.



answers from Tampa on

It's the age. My daughter is 12 and did that when she was 10 1/2- 12. Then it went to 2-3 showers a day. My 9 year old will go through it too. The teeth brushing too. I asked if friends mention about BO or yellow teeth/bad breath. Kids don't seem to care. It's sad bu high school they will blame the parents but life will go on. Good luck!

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