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Teen Hygiene Tips

As a parent, it’s your job to help your kids and explain the teen hygiene basics. But where do you start?
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Getting Your Kids to Practice Good Teen Hygiene continued...

Start early. Altmann recommends that most parents start talking about teen hygiene issues -- and giving over some responsibility for them -- by age 10.

Don't come down too hard. Don't start by hassling your kids about their hygiene. Try to avoid confrontations. Once it becomes a struggle, your kids might be more likely to dig in their heels.

Make sure your information is up to date. Before you talk to your kids about teen hygiene, make sure you know what you're talking about. Some of the advice you got when you were younger could be outdated now -- or may never have been true in the first place.

Be a good role model. If you want your kid to have good hygiene habits, you need to stick to them yourself. Don't shuffle around the house in pajamas all weekend. And good luck trying to get your kid to use floss if he's never seen you with it.

Pair up. Altmann says that if it's possible, have mothers talk to daughters about teen hygiene issues and fathers with sons. "It often helps if there's a same-sex parent in the house to discuss these issues with the teen," says Altmann. "Kids tend to look to a same-sex parent as a role model for hygiene."

Get some professional backup. If you're having trouble getting through to your teen about a particular hygiene issue, make the pediatrician an ally. "Parents can always ask a pediatrician to discuss or reinforce certain hygiene issues before an appointment," says Altmann. Then once you're out of the room, the pediatrician can broach the topic with your son or daughter.

Teen Hygiene: Talking to Your Kids

Experts say that when you're encouraging your kids to practice good teen hygiene, explain the context. Make clear that good hygiene isn't just an arbitrary set of rules that you're forcing on them.

"Teens need to know how to take care of themselves, because they really are on the verge of adulthood," says Wibbelsman. "Within a few years, they'll be dating seriously or living with roommates." Having good hygiene will really matter.

As a parent, you need to be empathetic. Remember that puberty is an incredibly confusing time. Your kid may have lot of questions about teen hygiene that he or she doesn't know how to get answered. Try to give your teen the space to ask them.

Of course, she may resist your attempts to talk about good hygiene. She may protest, and roll her eyes, and insist she doesn't want to hear it.  But press on anyway. She'll probably be grateful that you did.

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Reviewed on July 21, 2010

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