Boys and Hygiene

Updated on May 09, 2009
P.O. asks from Antioch, TN
13 answers

We've heard the nursery rhyme, what are little boys made of; frogs and snails and puppy dog tails, what are girls made of; sugar and spice and all that's nice. I grew up with all girls but now I have two boys. Does any other parent have problems getting their preschool son to "wash behind the ears" so to speak, that is, brush teeth, lotion body, comb hair, take bath, put on shoes, socks, all the necessary things to maintain cleanliness. Seem like almost every day I have a struggle of some sort to do one or the other. My son takes it for a game to run all over the place wanting me to catch him to do it and when I do get him to do something, he resists. Does anyone else have this problem and how do you usually handle it.

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So What Happened?

Thank you mothers for sharing your experiences. At the least I know I am not alone. I must admit my son (3yrs old btw) does eventually succomb to doing these things once in a while when it is "convenient" for him such as when he wants to go outside to play (his favorite passtime) and I tell him he can't until he does it. So, as some of you have said, you just pick your battles, sometimes it's laying down the law, and other times, it's running around the place trying to catch him to do it. Shhh! but I think I secretly enjoy running to catch him SOMETIMES, but I try not to make it a habit to cause me more stress when I really need him to do those things (yeah I know, I know be consistent). Anyway, I have the music toothbrush, I also tackle some of those things in his carseat too, and I have allowed him to splash in the bath after I do the main wash. Overall, I was worried about the struggle over one item on the list at least daily, but from all your responses, I better get used to it, they are boys and that won't change. Thanks again to you all and have a wonderful mother's day.

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answers from Melbourne on

HA!HA! I have much lower expectations! My son is 4, and I fill up the bath every night with plenty of soap in the water, let him swim and play in there for a while, wash his hair and do a quick once over with a washcloth. (If he's swimming around in clean, soapy water, that counts for something!) I brush his hair and teeth quickly, and thats it. I dont mess with body lotion or anything, but I imagine if I made it into a massage, he'd enjoy it.

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answers from Orlando on

Sorry to break this to you, but it doesn't get any better. I have an 11 year old son and I still have to ride him to get him to brush those darn teeth daily, and I have to remind him to take a bath every day or he wouldn't do it it all EVER. He just crossed over from cub scouts to boy scouts and the thing he likes best is going camping once a month and not having to take a bath all weekend (ewww!!!) So far my husband has gone on the camping trips, too, so he makes sure he brushes his teeth! I asked my husband when it will ever get to the point when he will brush and wash on his own and he said "never". .... But I don't believe him because my husband's M. doesn't call to remind him!!! I have tried so many things to get him to brush his teeth, including show him pitures of rotten teeth--- I really do think once he is more into girls that he'll want to be clean for them-- or that's what I'm hoping!!

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answers from Tallahassee on

Pat - Boys are a different SPECIES altogether! My son is now 9 and he loves to shower/bathe - but he does not bother to clean his teeth or change his underwear unless I verbally instruct him to every day! He just doesn't see the reason I get so grossed out. I used to physically clean my kids teeth for them until they were about 5 or 6 maybe (I think it was). I still inspect them once in a while - but to date NO cavities for 3 kids ages 9, 10 & 12 So I am happy. Just DONT make a game of it, take charge, e few tears won't hurt them and it will make your life easier in the end. Bathing, hygeine etc are LIFE skills that we all have to learn.

Good Luck
M. F

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fort Walton Beach on

I have 4 boys and sounds like your problem is with obedience not hygiene.
True, boys don't care to be clean. My boys greatest joy is to go camping w/ my husband. Why? Not for the tents, the fishing etc, but because they don't have to shower! LOL (thier words)
When mine where younger I posted piture cards on the mirror in their bathroom. I got them free off of website for learning disabilities (wish I could remember the name). One w/ toothbrush, one with clothes etc. They hung in order as a reminder of what they need to do in the morning...then there were no excuses. I would lay it out for him like that, and set up consequences for disobedience. Please don't expect perfection. I STILL have to explain to my 13 yr.old that "Yes, you must still shower even if you didn't play outside today!":>)
BUT, running from you while you are telling him to brush teeth, wash etc. is unacceptable.
I always remind moms of boys, They WILL be bigger than you one day! They better learn to respect and obey you now while they are little! Blessings!

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answers from Tallahassee on

You didn't say how old your son is, but I think it has to do with the age. My little girl is 3, almost 4, and she hates to have her hair brushed! She refuses to keep socks or shoes on, and absolutely loves to play in the dirt and mud with her brothers. Thankfully, she enjoys taking a bath and brushing her teeth (her way, of course). When it comes to dressing, putting on socks and shoes, brushing her hair, or any other task--no matter how mundane--she laughs and runs away, or jumps up and down, falls on the floor.... anything to make it impossible for me to accomplish the task. And asking her to do it herself, well....sometimes she does, mostly she doesn't. Kids that age don't understand why they should be clean, they don't care if they are dirty or if they smell. Those things will come in time. In the meantime, pick your battles. For example, because my little girls hair is naturally curly, believe it or not I do not brush her hair everyday. I just spray a little detangler and run my fingers through it quickly. And on the days we are at home, I don't put socks and shoes on her.

On the other hand, one of my little boys is 6 and appears to have a few problems with sensory integration. He absolutely hates to have his teeth brushed because he doesn't like the way it feels. While I do attempt to get him to brush his teeth, I am lucky if that happens one time a day. I have found that he will use the oral B "brush ups" to wipe his teeth, though. Not nearly as good, but it definitely helps with the bad breath. He also refuses to let me brush his hair because it "hurts." In that case, we simply decided on a buzz cut. He loves it--he wanted to be bald--and there's not enough hair to worry about brushing. As far as shoes go, he is far more likely to wear them if they are slip-on and don't require socks.

My point is, find ways to compromise with your son--unless it is a battle worth fighting. I always think: is this something that will negatively affect him in the long run? Is this something that will keep him from being a happy, healthy adult one day? I the answer is "no" then I let it go.



answers from Miami on

Pat and other Moms who replied~

I got such a kick out of reading the responses to this question. My son is 20 months old and he LOVES to brush his teethe we take turns; he LOVES to shower until the soap comes out! LOL…then If he sees a hair brush he has his hands on his head and is screaming NO! No! No! And Lotion OMG my neighbors must think I torture my son daily (sometimes I have taken all of my supplies to the car with me and once he is strapped in his car seat I will brush the hair, apply lotion, and put on his socks and shoes, he cant run from me so it is my perfect opportunity go get him ready and then we can leave). The replies made me see this is not going to get any easier but to maybe just deal with it with a smile, and know we will all laugh about it when they get married, because then we will not have to make a daily call to remind them…LOL! Good luck to you all! Have a great Mothers Day!!!



answers from Miami on

I have eight brothers and three sons. My ex husband was the grossest of all. Men are bears with furniture.
It's a game that they play; and I tell them "girls don't like smells" but they insist on bad hygiene...I always insisted on them brushing teeth and when they go to the dentist and have cavities, it's their foolish fault.
How to get on top of their game? Take away the computer time, invite them to chop the veggies/salad for dinner, ask about their dreams for their futures, which includes meeting girls. It was such a battle during pubesence. Now, they call me and ask "what were you talking about?...My date said I smell..." Well, yeah, you're not eating at the table until you wash up, dude...
best wishes and many blessings



answers from Orlando on

I had trouble with this until recently, and my son is 12! Now, if he doesn't brush his teeth at nite then no dessert the next day, and so forth. I'm working on a chore card system where he earns points for chores, morning/evening routines, etc., and spends his points for rewards like TV and game time with M..
Good luck!
Edit to add: With my kids' age group, I also deduct allowance until any cavity is paid for (what the insurance doesn't cover). Tough love!



answers from Boca Raton on

My son is the same way - runs screaming when the hairbrush comes out - it's a battle with teeth every night. He says "I want yucky teeth". He'll be 4 in July and I imagine I'll be fighting this battle for a long time. He knows the teeth cleaning is non-neogotiable, but still fights it every night. We've tried different kinds of toothbrushes & toothpastes and it doesn't make a difference. But, on the other hand, he listens VERY well for everything else, pays attention, follows directions, and is a wonderful, caring boy. So, you take the good with the bad I guess. He still wants me to put on his shoes & socks too - but he'll take showers and baths with no problem.



answers from Miami on


As a mother to 3 boys, I will make this as simple as possible. You are going about this all the wrong way. Don't fight him, your are getting yourself frustrated and he is winning the battle. What you need to do is turn the tables. Make the entire thing a game, make if fun to do these things and then he will want to do them. Find entertaining ways to get them done and he will want to do them. Get the musical toothbrushes, let him pick it out. Let him pick out the shampoo or the soap. Get him involved in everyway. Think of simple songs or games to make it more enjoyable for the both of you and it will be a lot easier and not so much work.

Good luck.

36 y/o SAHM of 3 boys
14, 6 and 4



answers from Pensacola on

Find a routine with hygiene so he will expect certain thing to happen in an order. With my grandson, he eats breakfast first, then we go to the bathroom and wash face, brush teeth, comb hair. Bath time is always before bed every night so is body lotion and bedtime brushing so we only need to wash up in the morning. Get your child one of those battery operated toothbrushes, like I did and brushing becomes fun.

Because we do it this way, when he goes to M.'s and has not gotten a bath, combing or brushing the first thing he says when he comes back is I need a bath. I didnt have one at M.'s or I need to brush my teeth she didn't have time to do that. Get them used to it, and they miss it when its gone and will report it when it is not done. trust me.



answers from Orlando on

SO dont play his game. Our son learnt to clean his teeth when he got a cavity and realised he caused it. I let him deal with the kids at school making comments that would have him take care of himself and it has worked.


answers from Jacksonville on

Just to throw in my 2 ¢...
You might, on occasion, throw out a challenge. That's a trick my husband used with our kids.. and still does sometimes. Not for everyday, and not for every "chore".. but when we are in a special hurry or something, he will say something like... "Go put your shoes on... it's a RACE!" While he is going to get his own shoes on to leave the house. So, if you have a way to make them "race" that can be a motivater... (don't rush him through brushing his teeth though, lol). Does he have siblings?? "First one with their hair brushed/combed gets to choose the bedtime story tonight... it's a race!"
Good luck... No kids likes practicing EVERY part of good hygiene, but there is a chance he will get better with time... just don't make it too much of a power struggle NOW. Once you "catch" him, if he struggles, he loses a privilege. Or once you catch him, challenge him to get it done in "x" amount of time... ("Let's see if we can ___ in less than 30 seconds..!")

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