My 10 Year Old Girl Is Having Hygiene Issues, Help!!

Updated on October 02, 2008
M.W. asks from Gilbertsville, PA
11 answers

Recently I have been having more trouble with my 10 year old daughter wanted to take care of herself. She has ADD but has stopped taking her meds in May. She always wants to skip getting a shower, doesn't want to brush her teeth, never uses her deodorant and always wants to dress sloppy. I have been told this is a normal awkward stage that many girls this age goes through. I try to explain to her that these things are necessary for a healthy lifestyle but I am just ignored. Does anyone have suggestions?

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Thank you so much for your advice, it is nice to know I am not the only one going thru this.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I went through the same thing with my daughter. My daughter has ADHD and is on meds. She is 11 and fights to get in the shower then it is always a negotation. Can i just wash my body or just my hair? They don't get it.
Now she started middle school (6th grade) and is starting to care a bit. She is really caring how she dresses, the showers are still an arguement but not quite as much. Now I just have to deal with the attitude and mouth.
I hope things go well with everything. I didn't help much but just wanted you to know you are not alone and sometimes that helps more than anything.

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answers from Kansas City on

I think kids go through a grungy stage. I would insist on the twice daily brushing of teeth and at least an every other day shower. I think it is a phase that will pass. Get her some cool shower gel & shampoo to try to entice her!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

Hmmmm, this is really tough. It it sort of breaks my heart that she is feeling this way and having trouble with this, I know it's hard for you too. It is normal, and lots of girls go through this.
My daughter is younger, but if this was me, first I would try to remove all obstacles and make things nicer regarding all these areas. Such as, totally de-clutter the bath area and make it appealing and easy to use. Give her a fun new toothbrush and a pretty cup for it, and put it in an uncluttered place easy to reach. Make the bathroom cute and clean. Make sure you are in a good mood around bath time and do something nice with her after her shower-extra hug, special snack-whatever, so over time she associates shower time with "a nice time". Make it a spa-little radio, nice smell....:)

Remove all sloppy items form her wardrobe, so that no matter what she picks, it won't look bad. Help her with her hair and give big compliments. Get her a couple of new hair ties and a pretty bowl of her own for them. Maybe a couple of new cute garments. Less is more, keep things simple!
Figure out if she could live with less baths. I only bathe my daughter when she smells sweaty-but she's 2 and a half, so ten years is probably different. But if she could bathe every other day it may help.
Once all this is in place, and it's easy and pleasant for her to do these things, you can enforce discipline when she ignores you. Like anything else, it's a rule that has to be followed, and ignoring mama is not allowed. Kids with ADD especially need this, since they have trouble self regulating. Often people discipline less, thinking it's not the child's fault, but this makes things worse.
So step up the positivity full tilt, and be ready to be firm and consistent. Good luck, this will pass, I hope the best for you and your daughter!



answers from Lancaster on

I know you already got a lot of responses but had to just add mine. I have a 13 year old step daughter and we went thru ths with her for 2 years. It started when she was 11 right before she got her 'monthly.' If she wanted to go out with friends and she didn't shower that day, then she goes no where. The ipod, cell phone, dvd player etc... would be taken for that day as well. If she wanted money for something or wanted to go somewhere or outside she needed to follow the rules in our home such as chores (very few like trash/dishes keeping room clean), shower/teeth cleaning etc... We would battle sometimes but all in all as she started hanging out with other girls and some a little bit older because she was bumped up a grade for being so smart, and she saw that they were very into taking care of themselves ie: makeup, shaving armpits, showering... she is showering daily when she is here now. We also in the last 6 months along with her Mother and stepdad put braces on her teeth so we were freaking out about worrying about her brushing. So we all just keep on top of her and now that she will be 14 in 2 months she really has come a long way. Starting high school this year made a difference too. Just hang in there it is a phase. I can remember myself hating to take showers at that age, don't know why cause I am a clean freak Just relax and maybe use some of the suggestions! Oh and my niece went thru the same thing when she was 10 and now she is 14 and is much better too!
Good luck!



answers from Pittsburgh on

I think this is a "pick your battle" issue. Teeth brushing? Not optional. But she could shower every other day, or even every 3rd (unless she's really dirty). The deodorant-- optional. If she starts getting made fun of, she'll start using it. And I wouldn't fight over clothes unless they are really inappropriate.

My guess is that her body is starting to change, and this is her way to deal with it. As she becomes more comfortable, she'll adjust.



answers from Philadelphia on

I read a post on here recenly that said to make them get in a bubble least it is getting off some of the grime! My second daughter went through this very breifly, fortunatley she did not like to smell. I have her pick her own deodorants and things. They seem to like that. I still do have to constantly remind her to brush her teeth. The only advice i can think of is staying on top of it until she is willing to do it herself. I would sit on the toilet in the bathroom and make sure she is in the tub, brushing her teeth...etc...good luck!!



answers from Philadelphia on

I am the aunt of this little girl. The hygiene issus have nothing to do with the lack of medication. I have seen this for myself. She will actually pretend to brush her teeth so her mom thinks she did. I saw her thru a mirror actually using her fingers on the toothbrush to make it sound like she was brushing. Obviously she is more supervised now while teeth brushing. This was awhile ago.

Why go through all the trouble to not brush her teeth? My sister examines her thoroughly and often sends her back to do it again when it obvious that she didn't really do what she was supposed to.

Please help!! My sister is at her wits end with this girl. Any tips on getting her to take better care of herself. The "you don't want to be the smelly kid" doesn't work! Nor does bribery and being firm about it.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi M.,

I don't have any new ideas about how to get your daughter to care about her hygiene.

My concern is two fold, her meds, YOU are her mom, unless the doctor has taken her off the meds she needs to be taking them. That said, I believe that to many kids are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD when it is a parenting issue. Often parents want to be their kids friend when kids need parents to set boundries and teach them about life. I think you are a caring mom or you wouldn't have written in asking for advice.

The other is how she dresses, not that sloppy is "bad" it could be a stage so pick your battles. I encourage you as another lady did to really listen to your kids. I do have a question about all the issues, did they start sort of suddenly? or gradually? If suddenly, do you know of anything that may have happened to your daughter that caused her to want to become unattractive? It could be someone picking on her or embarassing her (even you could have done this unintentionally by saying something in front of her friends), or something more serious.

Reflective listening is really helpful in any relationship when the listener does not feel like the other person really hears what they are saying. Using phrase like you sound happy about that or sad, angry dissapointed etc. It sounds like Sue hurt your feelings when she said that. Also brainstorming ideas to "fix" problems is a good idea for kids her age, it helps them to do a couple of things, see that it is OK to ask for help, and it helps them to become confident in their ability to problem solve on thier own (over time).

I know this got long, but I hope it helps.


answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi M., Yup, it sure is a stage. You just have to be firm and keep on those good habits. I'm in the middle of this stage with my youngest! Trust me, I'm not sure which is worse, fighting them to get in the shower or fighting them to get OUT of the shower! My older two girls are masters at the 30 minute drain the hot water tank marathon showers! LOL She will outgrow this stage soon, so just hang in there and stay strong! Best wishes.



answers from Erie on

First the medications -- did she decide to stop or did the doc's decide it was time to try a go without it ? If she just plain quit, then you have to decide whether that's appropriate or not.

On the hygiene stuff ? I don't think ADD has anything to do with it. Our oldest NEVER wanted to take a shower. We forced her EVERY time she needed a shower. We didn't require showers EVERY night, however. We required them ever other night until grade 7 at which time it changed to every night, with Friday nite off unless they had plans for Sat. and needed to look good. I wouldn't worry so much about the deoderant until she starts puberty, but I would push the teeth. She can brush them or you can brush them. I think a few times of mom stepping into the bathroom to brush her teeth would let her know you mean business. It's a health issue and it's a money issue. Cavities cost a whole lot of money to fill, and they hurt.

You DO have to pick your battles -- so make a list of your expectations and prioritize them. There are absolute requirements and there are other things that you may need to let slide. You don't want to be harping ALL the time, but you DO want to enforce the behaviors she needs to keep up for health.

And the dress style? Does she have friends who come over? how do they dress ? Are you pushing her to be all grown up and dress nicely like you do, or is she really dressing unlike kids at her school? Dressing to "not be seen" can be a symptom of low self-esteem, or it could simply be a way to rebel. As long as she is modest in her cothing taste, I wouldn't make a battleground of it.

But on the self-esteem issue . . . do you listen to her ? Do you praise her for the things she does do well ? I have a friend who has terrific kids, but whenever I listen to her, all she tells me is what is wrong with them. I am convinced that that's all they hear, also. And I'm amazed that they are such wonderful young ladies. (13 and 16). It's really important to listen toyour kids if you want to know WHY they are doing what they are doing. Sometimes it's hard to get them to start talking, but the more you practice listening, (without passing judgement), the more they will open up.

I have a thing I do -- it started about 4 or 5 years ago when my oldest two were in college. I decided that if they or I should die, I would want to be sure that their last contact with me told them I loved them. So whenever I talk to them on the phone, when we say good-bye, I say, I love you. they usually respond, "Love you, too, mom" Every single day I hug my teens and tell them I love them. whether we have argued during the day, or they've snapped at me or whatever -- if I were to die, I would want them to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that their Mom loved them.

Home is where you child comes to let her hair down and stop "behaving" the way everyone expects her to behave. While there are things you need to push her to do, be sure it is a place where she feels loved and accepted, and cared for, just the way she is. :-)


answers from Allentown on

Hi M.,

Contact Dr. Laurie Dietzel at

[email protected]

Hope this helps. D.

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