How to teach your teen good hygiene

Teach teens to keep it clean with these simple guidelines.
Teen health

Sitting your child down to discuss personal hygiene can almost be as tricky as having the sex talk.

Your kids really don’t want to listen to a lecture about their bodily functions, but it is crucial to let them know that once their body starts to alter thanks to puberty, they’ll need to change some of their personal habits. Don’t just leave a can of deodorant in their room and hope they get the hint!

How to get your teens to practise good hygiene

Be a good role model. If they know you shower regularly, even on “lazy days” when you’re just hanging out around the house, they’ll soon get the hint that this is normal practice.

Let them know that hygiene is a responsibility. If your teenager is resistant to basic hygiene practices such as showering or using deodorant, make it clear it’s just something they have to do, like their other household duties. Enforce the same sort of consequences they’d face if they shirked their other responsibilities. “No shower, no Wi-Fi” can work a treat.

Don’t embarrass them. Telling them they stink, especially in front of other people, may get them into the shower on that occasion but could make them rebel when it comes to being clean. Be subtle and talk to them quietly on their own if they have a body odour problem.

Help your teen to factor hygiene practices into their daily routine.

Factor hygiene practices into their daily routine. Try to get them to do things at the same time every day so it becomes a habit, and if you need to, get them up earlier to make sure they have a shower before school. Accept that if they’re particularly active and play sport, they may need to shower a couple of times a day.

Stock up on all the products they need. Sanitary items are especially important for girls. You don’t want them to use products for longer than they should because they’re worried about running out.

Point out (subtly!) the side effects of bad hygiene – rashes that can develop if sweat is not washed off their body, and the social impact of body odour.

Remind them that having clean hair is part of good hygiene. When they were younger, they may have got away with only washing their hair every few days, but once puberty kicks in, the oil glands in their body can go into overdrive and they’ll need to wash their hair more often to avoid lank, greasy locks.

Teach boys to shave properly. If there’s no male in your household, enlist the help of a bloke they’ll respect, to show them how it’s done.

Don’t forget fingernails! It’s crucial to keep them cleaned and trimmed. Put a nail brush in the shower and another one next to the soap on the hand basin.

Wearing clean clothes is also part of good hygiene practice

  • Changing their socks and underwear every day is a must, and clothes they’ve been wearing for sport and any other physical activity that gets them sweating should go straight in the laundry basket

  • If they think they’re being helpful by wearing the same item of clothing repeatedly so there’s less washing, tell them they’re not!

  • Once their sweat glands become more active, thanks to the hormones now coursing through their bodies, you may find your teen is better off wearing clothes made from cotton, rather than those produced from man-made fibres such as nylon or polyester.

Take a look at this article on teenage relationships here.

Image: Paul Suesse/ Alana Landsberry/

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