HELP........In Desperate Need Hygiene Advice for 11 Yr Old Daughter

Updated on January 28, 2008
D.W. asks from Saint Peters, MO
22 answers

All.....My daughter is 11 going on 20, and I am having the hardest time with getting her to be conscious of her hygiene. She HATES taking a bath, and often will run her water for bath but not wash with soap or anything. She says thst she puts on deodorant, but has the same deodorant "package" from June or so. She never wants to shave her underarms or other areas that "need to be groomed" from time to time. Also, AND THIS IS A BIG ONE, she does not want to wipe herself even when she has a BM. I have tried explaining why it is important to take care of yourself and have good hygiene, but still find her underwear dirty where she has not wiped. Washing her hands after using the restroom is an issue as well.

We have the American girl book "The Care and Keeping of You", but it seems to not be affective. Have any other moms been through this, and have some advice on this issue? Any success stories, etc? ANY help would be greatly appreciated. At a loss on what to do. HELP! Thanks in advance for any advice you can share!

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S.S.

answers from Springfield on

D., sounds like a trip to the DR may be time. I had a similar problem (although not quite as bad, as he did wipe after using the toilet). We went to his DR and the Doc had a hygeine discussion with him. He was embarrassed and doesn't ever want to go through that again. If the discussion with a DR doesn't help, I would suggest counceling, as this is really not normal for girls this age. They are usually very conscientious of their appearance after about 10 years old. :)
Good luck!
S.

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A.D.

answers from Springfield on

D., I was looking at books the other day at Walmart and seen a book...The care and keeping of you! If you go online it will also give some reviews. It sounds like she is very confused about her body and maybe she is not seeing her friends develope like she is...maybe she is not ready to "grow up" like she thinks. LOL Good luck!! Hope this helps a tad!

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G.H.

answers from Topeka on

Hi...from the mother of three young adult women (who were once preteens and hated to shower)...All three of them went through the phase that your daughter seems to be going through - I literally had to throw one of them in the shower with her clothes on...and dump shampoo in the hair....and now : ) I have three young women who do not have an issue one (except for wanting to take 1-2 hour showers) about hygiene. Bear with her and hopefully time will work out her problem...

Best of luck - G.

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K.J.

answers from Kansas City on

I hear your frustration! I think everything goes in cycles, so soon she'll probably want to be showering all the time. I remind myself - this stage won't last forever.

My only practical tip is to try the flushable wipes for wiping. My kids love them and they do a much better job than toilet paper. They are in the grocery store right by the TP.

Good luck!

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S.S.

answers from Springfield on

Your last statement says a lot...try some mom and daughter time...maybe at a spa? Help her feel like she matters and is important from the inside out. Sounds like some depression maybe? I had the same problem with my daughter...she was and is overweight and was made fun of so much she just didn't care...didn't feel loved...sort of like a middle aged housewife that doesn't care how she looks anymore if that makes any sense. Anyway my daughter "outgrew" it and is now 15 and takes the time with herself...self confidence means so much! Hope this helps:)

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R.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

My advice is to get your pediatrician involved. I haven't had this particular issue with my children but I have had issues with thumb sucking and other toddler/early childhood issues. They didn't want to listen to me but they did listen to their pediatrician. I had their doctor explain why they needed to do what we were already asking them to do. And Voila! They were willing to follow the doctor's orders. The only reason I can think of is that they view doctors as a better authority than parents.

Some children are just forgetful or their minds move so quickly that they skip steps. Have you tried a responsibility checklist with all the steps detailed that you want your daughter to complete? This might work too.

Wishing you better hygiene for your daughter soon!

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W.R.

answers from Springfield on

I have a thirteen year old son, whom I had similar problems with on this subject. Our solution was to threaten (and enforce) that if he did not shower correctly,wash his hair, brush his teeth, etc. we were going to stand and watch to be sure he did it. One time of his Dad standing outside the shower took care of the problem. While it may seem like an invasion of privacy, that may be what it takes...the "you do it, or I will" really spurred my son to take care of it himself. Teens value their privacy. You might even have a talk with your daughter's pediatrican, or another trusted adult, have them talk to her. Perhaps someone else's opinion (or the embarrassment of having her refusal to stay clean revealed) may spur some change.

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B.L.

answers from Oklahoma City on

As it has only been mentioned once, I will say it one more time - make sure that she is not being sexually abused or that she has not been in the past. Even an older male coming on to her or making her uncomfortable in a sexual way. Girls that have been sexually abused will frequently refuse to care for themselves in the hope that no one could possibly want to mess with them again. As a social worker, that is the first alarm that went off in my head.

After ruling that out, the other messages as to being angry, depressed, or trying to get your attention all make sense. This is beyond just not wanting to primp, she is really sending a message by avoiding even cleanliness.

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J.A.

answers from Amarillo on

Youve gotten alot of good advice already, I suggest 2 things...

1. make absolutely SURE nobody is "messing" with her or hurting her in any way, this is the #1 reason for girls wanting to be stinky, ugly, or unapealing.

2. bathe her, shave her pits, put on her deoderant, and follow her to the bathroom, she will get the hint quickly! You could also offer to join her for a manicure/pedicure/makeover after a week of good hygiene.

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C.R.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Hi D.,

Without knowing a lot more, it is difficult to find a solution to this problem. I have two daughters. My oldest daughter was going through the same problem as your daughter. Whe we discussed it with our pediatrician, she suspected depression. I took my daughter to a psychologist who confirmed the diagnosis.

I was working more than 50 hours a week and completing my MBA at night. I was at home most evenings, but I was not "there" for her. I cut down my hours and now have my MBA on hold.

My daughter responded to the increased attention; we started by having a "girl's night." My daughters take turns choosing the "chick flick." We make a night of it; paint our fingernails, do each other's hair, etc... Before we can watch the movie, we take a group bubble bath in our bathing suits. We soap up our hair and make funny hairdos, etc... I have made it a habit to get out of the tub and (at the sink) shave my legs, underarms, put on lotion and pluck my eyebrows while the girls are playing. Sometimes they watch, sometimes they don't, but I know the "modeling" has made them more interested in personal hygiene.

My daughter that was depressed is so much happier and just showed an interest in shaving her legs and underarms (12 years old). I bought her an electric shaver because the manual one scared her. She did not want to cut herself. She convinced me, and I use one when I am in a hurry. The model I chose looks like a razor but is electric. It is called "Shavy Femini." It is advertised for trimming the bikini area, but it works great for shaving her legs without the fear of getting cut.

BTW, my husband is a lot happier too - in a house full of females - because he uses "girls night" as an opportunity to go do something with his guy friends. Dad is not allowed back home until 9 pm when the movie starts. :)

This is just one suggestion; however, connecting with your daughter is probably more important than her hygiene right now. I am so glad I did. I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer which put time with my daughters in a whole new perspective.

God bless,
Paula

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M.K.

answers from Kansas City on

Make her wash her own poopy underwear, and when/if she doesn't and gets some sort of UTI, maybe she will realize that SOMETIMES mom is right! Short of that, there's not much you can do. When she starts getting picked on in school, she'll wake up. In the meantime, invest in some Clorox wipes and make sure you wipe the doorknobs and light switches so that you don't catch the nasty germs!

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J.U.

answers from Kansas City on

well this may sound weird but try showing her the people who cant even take a soke for a bath ( homless or somthing ) take her to a elderly care center and have her do some comunity work ( this is how i was taught[ i tended to be stubbon])
jess

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M.M.

answers from Oklahoma City on

This may seem a little radical, but give her a bath! She's a girl, your a girl. You have the same stuff. She will quickly decide it's easier to do it herself.

As for shaving her pits, it's not necessary. I know it seems gross because that's the way the US is. Women shave. But giving her the bath will assure you she's clean. Even if you don't physically clean her, just stand guard to make sure she's doing what she supposed to.

Maybe the toilet paper is her problem. Have you tried any of the flushable adult wipes? If that doesn't help, find a website and show her the types of parasites she can get if she doesn't take care of it. You would think it would begin to irriate her bottom if she didn't clean it?!

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T.M.

answers from Wichita on

I have the same trouble with my nine year old son. He doesn't mind taking a shower - and will take one fro 30 minutes if you let him. But he just likes to be under the hot water - soap and shampoo are rarely used. A lot of times, we just send him back into the bath until he uses something on his hair and body. Being a single mom, this "battle" of wills may not work for you.

I wonder if maybe you could have a special day for your daughter and take her out to get her hair done, or maybe her nails or something like that, and then along with that, get something neat and fun for the shower/bath. Some shower gel that smells good, some sparkley lotion, things like that?

There are times I think where we all have to play the tough love game and just let her be - sometimes the more we push, the more they push back. She will realize soon I think that being "unclean" isn't so great and fun. Good luck!

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M.R.

answers from Kansas City on

A lot of kids that age don't like to shower, brush their teeth, etc. My son would go to the extreme of saying he brushed his teeth & would even put a little toothpaste on his finger & rub it in his mouth to "prove" that he had brushed, but his teeth were still gross! So I had to always check his hair to be sure he used shampoo, teeth to be sure they were clean, & would send him back in to take shower #2 or brush again. They really do grow out of that stage though. They get into middle school & things change drastically. The wiping would be another issue though, because it's purely unsanitary. I would suggest with that you explain that she could get worms/parasites & that could have a lifelong effect on her body, besides is just extra gross to think of something crawling around on you & in your bed. Yuck! But to spark an interest in hygiene with my daughters at that age, I took them to the mall. We both would get facials (free) & learn how to put makeup on, but mostly spend time together being "girls". It's a way to go in thru the back door & help them start making that transition from tomboy (which both my girls were) to a young woman, which they both are now. We lived thru the years of I hate pink, lace, frills & about 11-12 is when that transition starts taking place in girls. Enjoy these years, they pass too quickly!

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S.C.

answers from Tulsa on

My daughter is turning 5 around the first of March, so honestly, I don't have much experience...but I can say that I second the opinions regarding needing more attention and more Mom & Daughter time. It sounds like your daughter is feeling incomplete and is needing attention. She knows that not taking care of herself properly demands attention.

And I know, if you are like me, how guilty you feel for having to "burn the candle at both ends." I work 40 hours a week at my day job, about 4 hours a week managing the books for my parents business, and I'm taking 9 college credit hours this semester, and every semester until I finish. Some nights when I drag in after 11pm I feel like the worst mother in the entire world.

These are precious moments that I can't ever get back. I justify the time by telling myself it's almost over with only 11 college classes left to complete...but sometimes I wonder what I'm sacrificing to have it. I have a great husband who definitely picks up my slack...and thank God for him...but I just wonder if it's worth it...and who knows...my daughter is young, and I will finish soon...so I'm hoping that she won't be permanently damaged from my chaotic schedule...

I wish you the best of luck....and I apologize for my rambling!

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C.D.

answers from Bloomington on

D.,
I would not worry too much about this - she will grow out of it, especially when she discovers BOYS. Then you probably won't be able to get her out of the bathroom. The handwashing /wiping thing is of concern. Maybe you could take her to bath and body and let her pick out some soap with a scent that she likes.

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M.W.

answers from Topeka on

She will most likely start taking care of her hygiene issues when her peers start taking notice and letting her know. This is the age when peers input is more important than mom's input. I have beeen in your shoes and that's what happened with my daughter.

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A.P.

answers from Topeka on

Are you sure it's from her not wipeing herself? At that age I had a cronic constapation problem and that was the first sign to my parents/doctor of it. It maybe she's into something she enjoys or is intrested in and is trying to hold her BM to long. It might not just be her not taking care of herself there could be other factors behind it. Hope you find out what's going on. Fingers crossed for you. Lots of luck!!!

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M.H.

answers from Tulsa on

First I would make sure that there are not an psychological reasons why she wants to be dirty.

Then, make it more convientant for her. ie....place baby wipes by the toilet to help her cleanse after BM. They make face wipes that are easy too. There are generic ones that are pretty cheap. Really keep on her and encourage her. If she's just being lazy she'll have to get into a routine before she's consistant with it.

If nothing works I would take away privledges. Same as not getting to go anywhere or do anything for her room not being clean or chores not done. If she's not clean or taken care of herself start hitting her where it hurts. phone, internet, hanging w/ friends, ect... She'll get the point and hopefull it's start to become second nature.

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J.L.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Hi D.

Hmmmm, running around burning the candle at both ends perhaps is the main idea to start from eh? I mean our kids will find MULTIPLE ways to get our attention and this seems to be working for your daughter. She not only has your attention but total control of your fretting :) they are so good at it aren't they :) SMILE - and congratulate yourself on joining the single mom club of "ooops there it is!" When our kids finds ways to 'say' the words' "Hey, just what do I have to do to become as important as what your work is to you?" then we have to get on the guilt roller coaster and ride for a piece lol lol just kidding of course but also speaking from experience. My kids found numerous ways to tell me to Back off the career and balance the mother load I mean motherhood of course lol

Perhaps another direction would help BOTH you and your daughter with Hygiene. Become a TEACHER of "Honey when you grow up you will need to learn how to BALANCE all that is asked of you" I sometimes need to practice this too - so let's both make a list of what WE need to do to take care of OURSELVES. Then compare lists - hers may say "go to the movies" "call my friends" "watch TV" and yours of course says "sleep" "nap" sleep some more" then read a book (which of course you fall asleep) lol you get my drift....lol

See if anywhere you MATCH and then make a Practice list for both of you!

I can think of joint things off the top of my head that my daughter and I finally come up with to practice....
Shopping - for stuff (no hygiene products yet)
Movies
Restaurants (eating out)
Pedicure
Manicure
Shopping - for clothes (not hygiene products yet - but introduce accessories - hair ribbons, clips, headbands easy to wear and care stuff)
Feed the ducks
Exploring a guy thing (hardware stores are facinating if you do not know what to do with any of it) build your own single woman toolkit together for around the house.

You get my drift I hope, (I can get sooo wordy lol) anyway once you RE-ESTABLISH a communicative relationship allow the hygiene to enter into it naturally. I guarantee you it only takes ONE BOY to say PEEEUUUUUU to her and she will come running - be there ready with a built relationship and an oppotunity to FIX the broken, tear stained young woman who would die before she admitted you were right! After all this little lady did not fall far from the tree and we all raise our daughters to be as strong as we are - and that INCLUDES not letting US control THEM!

This whole concept just takes two hours on a weekend Saturday or Sunday and it benefits both of you - you are not UP HER tailpipes with nagging etc and she has her space to see you now as a teacher and confidante not a control officer of earlier years.......allow the change developmentally to occur on HER schedule not Yours.....

Hope my two cents helps......were all in the motherhood journey together and remember there is NO perfect parent so we just share our experiences strength and hope in this and other events.

Take care,

J.

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C.S.

answers from Kansas City on

Hi D..

Are her friends the same way?? Maybe she would take some advice from her friends. I am an Arbonne consultant and we teach and train girls how to take there of their skin and their bodies and I would love to help out you and your daughter. We do this mother/daughter party where she would invite her friends and their moms and we just have a fun party talking about the changes our body is going through. Maybe if she sees that her friends are doing it, she would too. If you want more info on the FYI (for younger individuals) party please email me [email protected]____.com I hope you find a solution to this.

C.

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