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DSD nearly 13 poor hygiene - will she grow out of this?

21 replies

FTstepmum · 23/08/2020 16:25

I've just seen my nearly 13 yo DSD leaving the bathroom without washing her hands after a poo, yet again.

She also admitted that she hasn't brushed her teeth in weeks and only goes through the motions.

She hates being clean, she stinks and doesn't care if she does or doesn't. She also prefers to wear scruffy, dirty clothes.

I don't understand it! Maybe she's trying to assert her young independence or control?

Please tell me it gets better. I don't want to nag her, but it's hard not to when she's so stubborn about it.

We have a very good, caring relationship, so I know there's no underlying resentment there.

Will she see the light when she gets a bit older?

Any tips for me to encourage her?

OP posts:
Princessbanana · 23/08/2020 17:20

🤮 what does her dad say and her mother? I have 4 kids and don’t know how you cope with that, I honestly would be cleaning 24/7 after she touched thing in the house. Even my 3 year old knows how to wash his hand after the potty!😷

Aquamarine1029 · 23/08/2020 17:23

Where are her parents in all this? Do they not care at all? I'm my opinion, this level of filth is completely unacceptable.

tryingharder92 · 23/08/2020 17:25

Isn't the op her parent?

tryingharder92 · 23/08/2020 17:26


Isn't the op her parent?

Ignore me
52andblue · 23/08/2020 17:33

My Dd, 13, is also going through this.
She is diagnosed with Autism though and is very sensory.
For her, the shower 'hurts', so it IS difficult.
I gave her the choice of a bath or shower, offered to help with her hair, bought bath bombs, told her to play music while in there etc etc
I am teaching her to air her bedroom, changing the bedsheets, select clean clothes each day, but still SHE pongs :(
My Ds went through it for quite a while (also ASD) but now, aged 15 he showers and selects clean clothes. It took ages....
I went down the 'you will get sore skin' route, rather than 'you smell' though they DID / DO. I guess you just have to grit your teeth.
I will still stand over them to ensure tooth brushing if needed and do 'tooth inspection'. Feels wrong at that age but they forget, and lie.

52andblue · 23/08/2020 17:38

I think you just have to be a broken record too.
My two were less good than most about hand washing.
When Covid became an issue I bluntly told them I was not prepared to potentially get sick because they wouldn't wash their hands. Who would look after them then? (I'm a single parent) Harsh, but it worked.
We use the green Pears soap which has quite a strong smell.
I remind them to wash their hands before dinner. They say yes.
So I'll say: right, can I smell the soap?' they usually then 'have another go'. I also keep a bar in a dish by the kitchen sink. So, no observed hand wash, no dinner. But you can't track her toilet trips easily at that age. She WILL come through it. Perhaps someone at School will comment and that will get through to her more than parental advice?

Jennygentle · 23/08/2020 17:44

There have been quite a few threads like this and I’m always a bit surprised that young teens don’t want to look their best and avoid BO.
Maybe it’s a reluctance to accept the end of childhood?
Just get firm OP and insist on smelling that her hands are freshly washed after loo visits. That’ll get old very swiftly and I bet she’ll shape up.

BlueJava · 23/08/2020 18:01

I'd be really firm, if she isn't washing her hands and cleaning her teeth or bathing then I'd check up. Personally I'd stand there twice a day until she cleaned her teeth, make sure she had a bath and ensure she washes her hands. I couldn't cope with that, I have two teen boys they both do all these things automatically and I wouldn't expect less.

FTstepmum · 24/08/2020 10:20

Thanks for replies.

I think I'll have to resort to much closer monitoring.

I guess the back story has some impact on the situation. DH is a great dad, but had to raise his 4 children on his own after his ex-wife left him and the children five years ago.

Cleanliness hasn't ever been high on his agenda, so it was a low priority.

She hasn't started her periods yet, so I'm hoping that will be an "additional smell" to push her into realisation! Ugh.

OP posts:
QueenCornelia · 24/08/2020 12:26

My friend’s daughter went through that phase for a bit in her teens. It seemed she was just kind of denying there was an issue & didn’t have pride in her appearance. As soon as she became interested in boys, all that changed! Am not saying that will be the same for this 13yo, but she is still v young. Keep gently reminding her. Maybe try to subtly bring the link between hygiene & health into casual conversations, esp when it comes to covid19 & personal appearance. Good luck!

polkadotpjs · 24/08/2020 18:24

We told our son that we both remember the "smelly kid" from school and now we are older and we didn't want to be near them and now as adults we realise they must have been neglected, it's our job as parents to ensure I'm he isn't that kid. He's got access to clean clothes and a nice shower and now admits he feels better once he's been in. Could you help her to choose some nice products ? Tricky when she's not yours but maybe ask your husband to say he's realised he's not been clean enough?

Palavah · 24/08/2020 18:31

Not washing her hands isnt just a personal choice - she's putting you all at risk.

Your DH needs to step up. Important to stay calm and just explain factually why this is important and non-negotiable. Depending on how active she is she probably doesnt need to shower every day but again it's a basic courtesy to people she lives with to make sure she's clean.

I wouldn't hold out hope for her periods making a difference tbh.

BreatheAndFocus · 24/08/2020 19:08

Not washing her hands after doing a poo is the bit that got me too. That’s gross - for everyone in the house. I would kindly but firmly explain that. Tell her it’s not just her health she’s putting at risk but the rest of the family’s too.

Have you asked her why she doesn’t wash them? The idea of a strongly perfumed soap as above is good. That actually persuaded one of my DC to be more scrupulous about handwashing because they liked the smell.

Is she depressed or self-conscious in any way? Is this some kind of defence? Or is it just laziness? If it’s the latter, I’d stand there and make sure she cleaned her teeth properly. Does she have an electric toothbrush? Could she have her own toothpaste?

At one point I was really worried about my daughter not paying attention to hygiene. The more I ‘nagged’, the more she laughed and shrugged it off. I had to speak quite bluntly to her regarding smells to get her to take notice. She did improve though.

titchy · 24/08/2020 19:15

DH is a great dad, but had to raise his 4 children on his own after his ex-wife left him and the children five years ago.

I'm sorry but no he isn't. He's a neglectful parent.

Can you imagine a mother of 4 using being a single parent as an excuse for not bothering with basic hygiene for her kids?

user1497207191 · 24/08/2020 19:21

She'll almost certainly be suffering from bullying at school if she is dirty/smelly. Whether overtly nasty or not, her school friends will try to avoid sitting next to her etc. It really needs tackling as it has the potential to ruin her education, cause low self esteem, etc. Get her parents to have a proper 1-2-1 with her.

WorkinWomansBlues · 24/08/2020 19:26

Yeah sorry OP. This is on your DP. He’s failed his kids by not instilling basic principles of hygiene.

It’s one of the absolute basic basics.

Don’t get me wrong- Im a LP and have a grubby 4 year old boy, I know the struggle. But struggle we must- it’s part of parenting, whether you have 1 kid, 4 or 10.

FTstepmum · 25/08/2020 09:38

I had a convo with DH about it last night and said I would back him, but he has to lead on it, otherwise she'll suffer hugely in life. He's accepted that and went straight to speak to DD. She's promised to start doing her bit, so we'll see...

He is a very loving and dedicated dad, despite this particular issue. It's heartbreaking with her mother too, because she hasn't spoken to her children since January. I think DSD is longing for a normal relationship with her. It's so hard to see her hurt.

In the meantime, I'm her only real and present mother-figure and it's my responsibilty to keep on at her, so she has some chance of a successful adolescence. But my word, this is a very, very tough gig!!!

Thanks for input and advice, all. Back to the grind...

OP posts:
SparklingLime · 25/08/2020 09:46

Your DH is going to have to really commit to keeping vigilant on this - not just lip service at your prompting. He has definitely been neglectful in his parenting. If she hasn’t been taught that it’s important then that surely is the major issue. What’s DH’s own hygiene like?

spacehoppered · 25/08/2020 09:55

I'm not saying it's this, as I can only offer my experience, but sexual assault/abuse can lead to this. (Mine was school/a peer)
Also depression can have a big effect on priorities, especially personal hygiene.
Equally, she could grow out of it, if it's noticed by friends at school etc. You could try to get her interested in the pampering aspect of cleanliness - bathbombs, face masks etc.
I've got no idea with the hand washing though...

MrsOldma · 25/08/2020 09:57

Is she the type that would be interested in “girlie” pampering time with you? Maybe you could pick out some hair and face masks too use, buy a selection of cheap body sprays and each choose a favourite?

Aldi do big bottles of kid friendly scented soaps in bubblegum and strawberry laces and when mine were younger I just ask why can’t I smell bubblegum and they’d go wash again!

I’d also make sure that you are both keeping a close eye on her as this could be indicative of other problems in her life like friends, bullying etc. Does she talk to you about her feelings?

minnieok · 25/08/2020 10:19

It does tend to get better once they get through puberty but it was an uphill struggle (my dd is autistic). It's a shame about her mother, but at least she has you, she'll be mine comfortable talking to you I suspect than her father especially when her periods start

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