Is Your Kid Starting to Get a Little Smelly?

News Team's picture
By News Team on October 6, 2015

Most kids won’t naturally learn about good hygiene; you have to teach them. But, what if your child is resistant or simply does not care? You don’t want your kid to be the “smelly” one in class. So what can you do?

Dana Abney, W.H.N.P.-B.C., of Carilion Clinic's Adolescent Medicine Clinic, gives us some tips.

1. Start the conversation early and have it often.

Any changes related to hygiene are all hormone driven, so the conversation you have with your child will most likely focus on puberty. Abney recommended having the conversation before puberty starts so your child can be prepared for what is to come.  

“When a child hits puberty is very individualized,” noted Abney. "It could be as early as 9 or 10 or as late as 13 or 14, so parents will need to use to use their best judgment to determine when to have that conversation.”

If you suddenly notice that your child’s clothes are a little smelly after soccer practice, puberty is definitely happening!

2. Be direct.

In her practice, Abney has found that no matter how tricky the subject, it is always best to be open, honest and direct with kids. And if you are worried that your child might be resistant to the conversation, Abney suggested having it in the car so he can’t be distracted by the TV or video games.  

“Many times, your child’s friends are already talking about it, so you can open the conversation by asking if his friends are wearing deodorant and then move into what he needs to be doing for proper hygiene,” said Abney.

3. This is all normal!

Let your child know that every tween or teen is going through the same thing and that he is not alone.

“Kids need to know that everything they are going through is completely normal,” explained Abney. “You don’t want your child to feel like it is his fault that he smells.”

4. Be a role model.

Parents need to set the example. Even if you don’t think he does, your child looks up to you, so talk about what mom or dad does every day to stay clean and healthy. When it comes to hygiene, what do you need to discuss with your kids? Here's a rundown of what your child should be focusing on:

  • Shower or bathe every day or every other day. Whether your child showers every day or every other day can depend greatly on his activities and how much he is sweating. Recommend using a mild soap and concentrate on the face, hands, feet, underarms, groin, bottom and under the fingernails.
  • Wash hair daily or every other day. Your child does not have to wash his hair every day, but if he has been outside playing or sweating it is a good idea to remind him to wash his hair. This is especially important if your child has oily hair, which can not only look greasy but can aggravate acne.
  • Use deodorant or antiperspirant as needed. Once puberty starts, sweat glands become more active and the chemical composition of the sweat changes, causing it to smell stronger. When you or your kid begins to notice it, using deodorant or an antiperspirant should become part of the daily routine.
  • Brush teeth (and tongue) twice a day and floss daily. Not only is it important to maintain good oral health, but bad oral hygiene leads to bad breath. And don’t forget to use a toothpaste with fluoride since most kids only drink bottled water.
  • Change clothes daily. Wear clean socks and underwear every day. Along with bathing, wearing clean clothes every day is a necessity when it comes to proper hygiene. And a lesson in doing the laundry is a good idea too since washing clothes is equally important!

Good hygiene can go a long way to keeping your child happy, healthy and confident.