Got a Stinky Tween?
10 tips to showing boys the tub
It might be unfair, or an over exaggeration, but boys are not often thought of as eager to jump into the bath tub. As your son grows and matures, it is natural to assume that his penchant to avoid soap and water will subside. He should naturally want to look and smell his best right?? The painful truth is, a teen’s hygiene habits often model those of his younger alter ego.
Knowing what products are teen and tween friendly, what really motivates boys to have an interest in personal hygiene and what doesn’t will eliminate some bathroom battles and will help your son through his transition to early adulthood.
It Just Doesn’t Matter
Many boys do not naturally possess the desire to smell good.
“In fact, the majority of boys age 8 to 12 have not yet developed an attraction in the opposite sex and are not concerned about impressing their friends or school peers,” says Child Advocate Specialist and mother of two sons, Diana Derby of McHenry, Illinois.
Young boys are generally happy with their appearance and remain unfazed by the flaws in their grooming routine. They’re still innocent enough to care more about video games, what’s for dinner and playing with a buddy than remembering to apply deodorant.
Find His Motivation
For some, it’s going off to high school; for others, it’s the chance to impress a girl.
A Massachusetts mother of three boys, Ann Lindblad found the best motivator for her sons was their interest in the opposite sex. “Once they found girls, they also found an interest in taking care of their appearance,” she says.
Whether it’s a girl or new school, identifying your son’s interests, concerns and goals will help guide him toward a hygiene plan.
Make It Accessible
Give your teen his own shelf in the medicine cabinet for his “man products.” A little empowerment helps him share the responsibility and respect the concept of good personal hygiene.
Give Him Some Control
Take your son shopping to incorporate his opinion on the type of deodorant, shave cream, toothpaste flavor, etc. to further stimulate an interest in the process of proper hygiene. Spend time researching what products he’s comfortable using.
Fragrance Free Is the Key
While girls enjoy lightly scented soaps and deodorants, boys don’t want to use anything that smells remotely similar to perfume.
“Boys appreciate inconspicuous and easy-to-use shampoos with built-in conditioner and unscented or woodsy antiperspirants,” says Robert Brace, a motivational speaker and owner of a skin-care line for men. Fragrance-free products and organic products are also beneficial for boys with skin allergies and parents who want to steer clear of dyes and synthetics.
Set up schedules
A schedule can help him stay on track as he is developing his new hygiene routine. Make a pocket-sized list to tape inside the medicine cabinet. Every morning when he opens the door to brush his teeth, he’ll see a reminder to use deodorant and to wash his face as well. Post a calendar on the refrigerator or a high traffic cabinet that has notes for a haircut every six weeks to stimulate an advanced hygiene routine.
Give a little bit of luxury
Splurging on a trendy new cologne or styling gel is incentive for him to remember to shave and comb his hair. Giving these items as stocking stuffers or in birthday gift packs keeps up the momentum.
Set realistic expectations without trying to completely overhaul your son all at once. Introduce him to one new hygiene process at a time. Once he’s mastered using deodorant daily, move onto shaving or keeping his nails clean. You don’t want your son to feel overwhelmed or to rebel against incorporating a hygiene routine.
They learn from example
Give him the chance to model positive examples and to develop his own level of respect for his appearance. Examples set by his father or a family member will offer comfort and support to a young boy navigating his way through puberty. Boys will appreciate modeling shaving techniques and learning how to apply hair products. He’ll benefit from instructions on how and when to use moisturizers, sunscreens and foot powders.
Provide subtle reinforcement
“Can you believe I almost forgot to brush my teeth today?” tells him you’re also capable of forgetting a step in your hygiene routine. Casually mentioning appearance and hygiene without relating it directly to him catches his attention. You’ll redirect him to his own appearance without embarrassing or pressuring him. Talk often but briefly to reiterate the importance of good personal habits.
Gina Roberts-Grey is a licensed counselor and a freelance writer.