11 Year Old Girl "Don't Care" About Basic Grooming.

Updated on April 07, 2019
H.F. asks from Everett, WA
22 answers

My daughter showers regularly, brushes her teeth, wears deodorant no problem, but her hair stands up on end in the morning. She doesn't brush it! I have to march her back into the bathroom and try and flat iron it down and she throws a tantrum throughout the whole thing. She keeps her hair real short but it needs to be styled otherwise she looks like a bum. I don't know why she doesn't care. She doesn't care about anything and I am worried that she's getting teased and made fun of and that's her defense, to be the tough guy that just says "I don't care" That's how she is about everything. She doesn't care about anything so it can't be used against her. Is it depression? SHOULD I take her to a therapist?

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the feedback. Its kind of good to hear Im probably overreacting.
Some people were offended by my use of the word bum. Im not using those words with her, but as was pounted out homeless people don't have access to water, brushes, hair ties, haircuts and my point is she has access to all that and she refuses to look groomed.
I'm also concerned about one thing effecting the other, her skin often gets breakouts on her forehead which I know is normal but she insists on pulling her hair in front of her face to hide it and it's never going to clear up. if she combed her hair back from her face it wouldnt irritate so much. but it's kind of an issue I don't want to approach because I don't want to make her self-conscious but I just wonder why she herself doesn't care.
And I really am not picky about what she wants to do with her hair as far as a style, she has it dyed burgundy currently, she's had it dyed blue she's had it dyed pink. Every whim she's wanted I've gone out and helped her do. but the reality is when you go out in the world and want to get a job and want people to take you seriously you should probably get the cow licks to lay down.

And I guess I am judging her harshly but only because I'm worried teachers are going to judge her or other people and think that she's unloved or that her parents don't care if she looks presentable when she goes out the door.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

When my child goes for haircuts, he specifically requests to the stylist "I want it short enough that I don't have to brush it." Yes, it's a super short cut and he's a boy and you have a girl. But I know some women with very cute very short cuts that require almost no styling. Ask her if that is what she wants, and if so, talk to a stylist who knows his/her way around short hair.

Or, if she likes her hair how it is (medium length and tousled), then let this go. It's her hair.

I don't think that this is a hill to die on, and I definitely do not think that she needs a therapist!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

What's the big deal whether she shaves her head, braids it or grows dreadlocks or dyes it pink or wears a mohawk?
It's hair - what ever she does to it will grow out sooner or later - and hair is not tattoos or piercings.

Consider that hair is not a hill worth dying on.
The 'I don't care' bit doesn't necessarily mean she doesn't care about everything - just that what's important to you is not what's important to her.
Back off and let her look like a bum if that's what she wants.

My mom stopped fixing my hair when I was about 7 or 8 yrs old.
An 11 yr old should be in charge of her own hair.
Just let it go.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

If she showers, brushes her teeth and wears deodorant she DOES care about hygiene, she just doesn't care about her hair. So what? Let it go. You don't need to control every aspect of her appearance. At some point she'll grow out of this stage. Stop wrecking your relationship with your daughter over something so petty and superficial as a hair style.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

why are you making this your hill to die on?

i'm like your daughter. i have zero patience for 'hair styling.' i comb it and that's it. if i need it out of my way or it's going to annoy me, i braid it back.

if your daughter's hair is bothering HER she can always cut it shorter, right?

battling with her daily to stop her from getting teased is just making you the bad guy instead of the putative people teasing her.

i do get insisting that she not look awful. but you marching her into the bathroom and imposing a flat iron on her while she's tantruming is way, way over the top.

put it back in her court. apologize to her for being an ogre, then tell her that you'd like her to get it cut in a style that's easier for her to manage and do so if she agrees. if not, tell her that you'll compromise by zipping your lip so long as she's run a comb through it.

then do it.


7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Quite the message you are sending your child when you are "marching" her into the bathroom to "fix" herself before she leaves the house.

Stop doing that.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

If your daughter didn't bathe regularly, brush her teeth, or wear deodorant, THAT would be not caring about basic grooming. In my book, putting energy into daily styling hair is advanced grooming :). Like Suz T, I'm a comb-and-go gal--and I'm a working professional. If your daughter is being teased or bullied about other things or you are seeing other indications of depression, then yes, take her to a therapist. But if styling her hair is the only issue, then let it go. Pick your battles--there are far bigger things to worry about than whether she combs her hair.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Geesh.. if she’s cleaned with teeth brushed what are you complaining about?

Good grief... no one should flat iron each day. You are destroying her hair.

Let this battle go abd let her wear her haur how she wants.

You’re going to make her hate you before she’s 15 if you are truly “matching her back” to do her hair. Let it go.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Wow. Just calm down.

She's eleven. She keeps herself clean. Who cares if her hair sticks up like a cartoon character, or if it's purple or whatever.

Your characterization of her looking like a "bum" is harsh and cruel. A homeless person is often trying to survive, to find food, to find shelter, and I would imagine that hairstyling is the least of his or her concerns.

I would find another way to think about this. Your daughter's hair is uncombed, but it's clean. WHO CARES? As she gets a little older, she may develop a desire to style her hair, or she might buzz it off to keep things easier, and if she's asking about an easy-to-keep style, you might treat her to a salon appointment, as long as you stay out of it and let her get it super short if she wants.

You've obviously taught her to keep her hygiene in check. Good job. Now let her have some independence and wear hair that would make a porcupine proud. She sounds like she's carefree and not worried about what people think (to a degree - she makes sure she smells good and is clean, but if she's got crazy hair, that's fine with her and it's their problem if they don't like it).

Apologize to her for the boot-camp march to the mirror, and tell her that you're pleased that she understands the difference between good hygiene and styling. Lovingly ruffle her fun hair in the morning as she confidently goes out the door to school, give her a hug, and count your blessings.

I can't imagine telling a therapist that your daughter showers, brushes her teeth, uses deodorant, but has unruly hair, so should she be in therapy? There are no in-patient psych hospitals for unkempt hair styles.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I would let her be.
Don't "march her back into the bathroom",
I understand what you're saying.....that it's a mess & she might get teased.
Maybe ask her (operative word "ask") if she wants to grow it out so it doesn't stick up.
Suggest (operative word "suggest") she comb it right after her shower so it might not stick up.
At your next wellness check up with the doctor, ask him/her to talk to her & see if she's depressed.
If she's not depressed, she might just not care. If that's the case, let it go.
Let her be.
It's her hair & you nagging her will only make her want to dig her heels in.
This is the age where you need to let her have some control in her life like clothes, hair, what she wants packed for lunch etc.
You might be surprised if you give her some room at the good choices she'll actually make.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

So, she does every basic grooming and personal hygiene item but brush her hair...let it go.

If she is in 5th grade that might still go okay at school. I used to substitute at elementary schools and lots of the kids had hair that made me as a parent cringe but none of the other kids seemed to mind that about 20% of their classmates looked like they didn't even own a brush much less a comb.

If she is starting middle school next year oh it will change over night. You will be buying clips, hair products, lip gloss, nail polish faster than your head might spin. Enjoy the last little bit of childhood before tween years hit hard and also start enjoying your mornings more without leaving home after having a fight with tantrum. Hugs!!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I don't think it's a battle worth having. Your definition of "bum" might be different than hers. (What do you mean by "bum" anyway? A homeless person? Why disparage those less fortunate?)

When kids get to the tween and teen years, they start "rehearsing" being an adult by taking small steps of independence and, occasionally, parental defiance. I'd like to suggest that you let this go. She's clean and showered (presumably getting her hair clean in the process), brushing teeth (good for her health) and using deodorant (good for those around her and somehow recognizing that her body is changing and producing more odors). If she hasn't started her period yet, that's next. Hair is just hair. If she gets tired of it or gets criticized by judgmental peers, she'll either ignore them or do something about it. A lot of times kids "come around" faster if they think it's their own idea and not their parents' idea.

You're going to have a lot of battlegrounds in the teen years - driving, curfews, drugs, drinking, unsupervised stuff with friends, parties....choose your battles wisely. She's not piercing things or arguing for a tattoo or permanent hair color - she just doesn't want her mother brushing her hair and determining her hairstyle as if she is 6. I think hair is like clothing - allow as much freedom as you can. I remember when parents had a fit about the Beatles' haircuts and Bob Dylan's scruffy looks, and in every generation there are kids who rebel even more when their parents push too hard. I think you'll be better off setting the stage for distinguishing between something that truly is a huge deal and things that are a matter of personal preference.

Back off, and see if her attitude improves. If she is truly depressed or her behavior is negatively affecting other aspects of her life (no friends, no activities, self-harm, an interruption in normal eating, defiance to teachers), then yes, take her to a therapist. But even that will go better if you are not viewed by her as someone who overreacts to everything. I am sure she looks ridiculous - I'm not questioning that. I know it's hard. But you have to let her work through this on her own unless she's a danger to herself.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

My 14 year old son and my 9 year old daughter are exactly the same. Both don't care. I have a strict every other day shower schedule (unless you played a sport and then you need a shower no matter what). I remind them daily to brush teeth and hair. My daughter would happily go around with a total rats nest for hair if I never reminded her to brush. My advice to you is this is totally normal for an 11 year old. I would not expect so much from her in the hair department. I would not flat iron it, personally. That's being too controlling. Some kids hate being controlled and just rebel even more. If it's messy so be it. We lived in Alaska 15 years and lots of the cute "hippy" kids run around with long tangled insane hair that is never brushed. Just think of her as your natural kid and let her be messy. You be you. You let her be her. Give her some compliments instead. That is my advice.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My 11 year old is just the same. You can't make it such a big deal because it will just slowly tear her down. If she's clean and wears deodorant you gotta let her make her own decisions with the hair and clothes. This is an easy way she can express herself and if she is getting made fun of then that is on her to decide how she will handle it. Kids are mean, they make fun of other kids, but it doesn't end in disaster all the time. Maybe your daughter is just shaking it off and moving on.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Let her leave the house looking like a bum with a birds nest. The less you show you care, the more she will.

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answers from Atlanta on

this is NOT a hill to die on.

Let her be. If she wants to look like a "bum" then so be it.

Your daughter needs to figure this one out on her own. If her acne is bad and she wants to hide it? Okay - let her hide it. IT WILL go away. But she needs to learn on her own. Remember you are entering the stage in life when your child will think you are the most stupid person in the world, don't understand what's going on, and all the other stuff that goes along with being a pre-teen and teenager.

If she's getting teased and made fun of and hasn't changed? She's not bothered by their words and is comfortable in her own skin.

You're trying to hard to be your daughter's FRIEND instead of parent. You have obliged her every whim. YOUR WORDS. You're not helping her learn. You're just GIVING her. Set the boundaries.

Her hair style isn't worth dying over. This fight? It's not worth it. Let it go. When you stop complaining about it? She will change her mind. Right now? She's learning how to push your buttons and find her limits with you...and it appears you would rather your daughter look like a beauty queen and acquiesce to her every whim. You're gonna be a grandma by the time she's 17 if you don't start being a PARENT and fighting the RIGHT fight. Her hair style IS not the hill to fight on or die on.

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answers from Aguadilla on

Hi H., read your concern and the SWH as well. Don't worry about her hair, and please don't iron it anymore because it is indeed much more damaging than her going out without combing it. This stage will pass very soon, when she starts seeing guys she likes and will want to look a little more put together. As longs as she is now bathing, using deodorant etc. all is fine and she is not depressed. For her forehead breakouts, just get her a cream that she can apply herself. You might be surprised and see that once she notices that you don't fuss with her anymore about the hair issue she will begin taking care of it herself. :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

A few years ago I posted something about my son's bedhead and our morning battle with trying to tame it. (His hair is short, but it is thick and course and unless its fully saturated with water in the morning parts of it stick up.) I was doing what I could in the morning to tame some of it, but I just wasn't going to die on that hill.

I was judged pretty harshly on here and told that I absolutely needed to fight that battle and that others would judge me and think I was negligent if I didn't. (Keep in mind his hair was clean.) So I started insisting that I fix it be perfect in the morning.

I wish I would have stuck with my gut instinct. Messy, clean hair is just not a huge deal. Its really not. Eventually her peers will pressure her and she will change. But until then... Let it go.

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answers from Phoenix on

Look at the other 11 yr olds at her school. She’s probably one of the better ones. This too shall pass.

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answers from Indianapolis on

She's just finding her way. My daughter is like that with hair as well. At this age they don't know what they want. The tween years are tough. Let her go with her hair a mess. If she doesn't care than let it be. She is not depressed by not grooming her hair. If she seems to be fine otherwise than she's ok. It's tough having a tween but pick your battles or it will drive you crazy.

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answers from Portland on

Sounds like it's just her hair from what you've written here, not basic grooming if she showers, does teeth, etc.

To me, it sounds as if her hairstyle is not working for her. I would be bothered at age 11 to have to flat iron my hair also. My kids would be too.

Mine at that age were bothered by showering and drying long hair and having to style it much. It was putting it up in ponytails wet half the time and getting out the door. They are too busy with life to want to worry about that stuff.

Here, it came a bit later - more in the teen years. Tweens are still very much into being kiddos a lot of times. Some tween girls are not yet into appearance. I kind of liked that personally.

In your case, you're worried she is being teased - and I have had moments where I thought my tweens may not be as concerned as other kids (who seemed advanced) about their appearance. That's not their personality though. You can't change your kid.

Maybe yours is reacting to you bugging her (how she sees it). Probably fine at school.

I would only think she has depression if she exhibits the traits. Not grooming at 11 is not really one - if it's just hair.

It seems a bit extreme to say she looks like a 'bum' and that she needs therapy. Accept her as she is, and see if her attitude changes. Unless she is smelly and pushing kids away - I would not be as concerned.

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answers from Portland on

Your daughter is doing basic grooming. She is clean, brushes her teeth, etc. What her hair looks like is of no importance in grooming as long as it's clean. You're worried about her getting a job. Is she or will she be looking for a job this year. You're worried people will think you're a bad parent, that she's unloved. What? When did loving a child is based on hair? I suggest micro managing is not useful when parenting. It puts a wall between you and your daughter.

Of course she uses her hair to cover up her pimples. She's a teen? Be glad she is interested in her appearance; just not in the same way you are. She wants to fit in with the other kids. Have you visited her school to see what other kids look like?

As to making you look bad, that is about you, not your daughter. I suggest you start listening to what your daughter wants. Think about how your criticism affects your daughter. She is the one going to school with other kids. They won't care if her hair sticks up. No one in the school is going to judge you.

I also suggest that a good hair cut can minimize cow lick problems. My granddaughter has the kinky curly sort of hair. She wears it short with all her curls showing. The look is beautiful.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My daughter is the same way crazy hair. I’ve started braiding it when she gets out of the shower. It’s time we spend together but also makes it much more manageable in the morning.

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