I have a very independent and confident daughter who is very sassy and smart. However she just had reached puberty and is beginning to give off bodily odors. How to give care tips and tell her that she smells and needs to take care of herself without hurting her feelings? I tried telling her but she always say that I am criticizing her (very sassy) and her hygiene did not improve.

Sample conversation(happens all the time, everyday):
Me: You smell bad. Please take a shower properly next time. (Sometimes I say this in a frustrated angry manner). Daughter: whatever face or you are criticizing me (not sure also how to explain to her what criticizing is).

I somehow feel that she also gets frustrated with me or get hurt when I say it a lot of times. I also tell her I do not want other people to tell her she smells. SO it would be better if I say it or any family member.

  • Hi! Welcome to the site. Can you include an example conversation of how you've approached this already? It might be helpful for guiding you to a better solution. Thanks! – Joe Sep 12 at 18:22
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    Yes you are criticizing her, and it is sometimes the job of a parent to criticize. Better you than someone who doesn't care about her. However, sometimes kids will listen to another adult mentor before their own parents, even if they are saying exactly the same things. – pojo-guy Sep 14 at 3:31
up vote 9 down vote accepted

It sounds like either she doesn't believe you (not likely), doesn't care (possibly, depending on her personality), or doesn't know what to do about it (most likely). We aren't born with a natural knowledge of how to clean ourselves. We have to be taught. Also, it's possible she doesn't understand the importance of good hygiene. Obviously, it's easiest to teach this kind of thing with very young kids. (I'm not criticizing. I'm actually in the exact same boat with my daughter.) You'll need some strategy with older kids/preteens.

It's best to have these kinds of conversations outside of conflict. If you're in the middle of an argument, or she's particularly smelly, it's probably not a good time. Wait until you're both in a good mood.

I'd start off by acknowledging the fact that it's an awkward topic. "I know this is weird, and you're tired of hearing me talk about hygiene. But it's my job to make sure you know this stuff."

Offer options, which gives her some control of the situation. "Would you like to talk with me about it or would you rather watch a YouTube video without me around?"

As funny as it may seem to you, avoid offering sarcastic options: "Or, just keep stinking and have no friends." 1) This will undermine the fact that you're trying to help her. 2) It's probably not an option you're willing to live with.

If you think she'll respond well to it, take ownership of the problem. "I'm sorry I didn't teach you this stuff when you were younger." You can defend yourself if you need to. "This is my first time raising a teenager. I'm learning." But don't criticize. "I've been trying and you just haven't been listening!"

Make sure she understands the importance of hygiene or she won't care. It's not just about personal image. Talk about bacterial infections, fungus, and all the other fun things she might experience. Use examples from your life if you have them.

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    there are also excellent books on being an adolescent which we gave our son to read. I honestly found it easier. – WendyG Sep 13 at 8:49
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    I would also add lines like "i know this has been good enough for years but as you hit adolescence you start to get smelly like mummy and daddy do" – WendyG Sep 13 at 8:50

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