The pre-teen and teen years are often awkward to navigate socially, emotionally and physically for both the parent and child. And puberty brings on a whole set of new physical transformations from acne to body odor. Having your tween establish a personal hygiene routine is important but when do you know they are ready for that responsibility? If you are wondering when your tween should take on more responsibility and independence when it comes to personal hygiene, it’s probably already time.
“This is a good topic to discuss when talking to your preteen about puberty,” said Tomitra Latimer, MD, Medical Director at Lurie Children’s Pediatrics at Deming. Children usually start to experience puberty between the ages of 8-14 and the hormonal changes that occur can help prompt conversations about the importance of personal care.
“Good hygiene reflects overall health and appearance. Attending to regular dental care and personal hygiene indicates appropriate self-care,” said Latimer.
Taking a shower once a day (more frequently if the tween is involved in sports), routinely brushing teeth in the morning and night, wearing clean underwear and clothing and daily application of deodorant are all examples of good hygiene practices. Latimer stresses that getting your tween to take a proactive role in their hygiene can take some time so be patient.
“Encourage your tween to set an alarm on their phone as a reminder to take a shower or use a timer when brushing teeth to ensure adequate duration,” suggested Latimer. “Another helpful tip is to post positive messages in the bathroom reminding them to cleanse their face or wash their hair.”
A lot of change occurs during tween/teen years so it’s important to keep an open line and open mind for dialogue with your adolescent so you can navigate the changes together. Latimer said, “Books are very helpful to start conversations that might be uncomfortable for a parent and teen. Books, such as ‘It’s Perfectly Normal’, ‘The Care and Keeping of You’ and ‘The Boys Guys to Growing Up’ – all about puberty are a great way to direct the conversation.”