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When your tween’s B.O. overwhelms

How to get a reluctant tween to shower

How to get a reluctant tween to shower

Even when there’s no pandemic, parents often report having trouble convincing a newly hormonal tween to shower to reduce body odor (among other things). The enforced close quartering of Covid has exacerbated this situation for many. In a helpful New York Times article, writer and mom Jessica Grose feels – or rather, smells – your pain, and offers both explanations and tips on how to manage.

Grose notes, “Body odor is the first sign of puberty in about 20 percent of children, and typically happens earlier for girls than it does for boys.” In my experience, B.O. became a thing around sixth grade, i.e. when my friends and I were 12. It seemed to happen overnight, and sadly, I recall bullies making much out of this.

READ MORE: How to help your tweens and teens care for their skin

Grose also notes that kids may be reluctant to shower because the refusal gives them a sense of control, especially during chaotic Covid times, when there are many more rules to follow, and so much fear. Also, the lack of peer-engagement can make B.O. less noticeable for a kid. Usually, for instance, a fellow tween will say, “You stink!” But such service is less available these days. Nevertheless, Grose says, “While we can all be sympathetic to the desire to regain some semblance of power, we also have to live with these smelly little creatures.”

She suggests talking to your child about it, and preferably not at night. She writes: “Their reasons for not wanting to bathe may be something you can fix easily: Maybe they’d prefer to shower in the morning and you’re asking them to shower at night, or maybe they hate the shampoo you bought.” She strongly suggests trying to create a spirit of cooperation, not conflict.

Best to frame hygiene positively, too. Grose writes: “Taking good care of yourself is part of being a bigger kid. You won’t feel your best unless you get exercise, eat good food and, yes, take a shower.” And try to make it a routine. It is important she says, to maintain routines during the pandemic.

And make sure you are offering a good example: “It’s especially important,” she writes, “as we enter these dark winter months that we keep up a routine for our mental health and model those behaviors for our kids, which means getting dressed every day, having regular meals and bathing.”

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