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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.

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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, 2018 at 3:31

3 Answers 3

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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, 2018 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, 2018 at 8:50
  • "I'm sorry I didn't teach you this stuff when you were younger." This sounds like a very good advice in general. Instead of criticizing others, you criticize yourself! Apr 1, 2022 at 11:20
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The word you use could be taken in an offensive way, and if I was your daughter, I will.

A little diplomacy with sensitive topics is not bad.

"You smell bad. Please take a shower properly next time." sounds like she is not good at anything, and is like an insult, I am not surprised by her answer, I would have the same.

The truth is that it is very difficult to say that in a loving way, it could be taken as I don't like you or anything from you, even your smell. Very hurting.

And her body odour doesn't mean she didn't take her shower "properly", it can be other reasons.

Just tell her "I am very sorry, I really hope you won't be hurt but I have something to say", etc. Yes, you have to say you are sorry, because it's a violent thing (even if it is useful ?.

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Be direct with your communication, be assertive, but not aggressive. Don't get emotional. Express your concerns with the body odor issue.

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    Please familiarize yourself with the Code of Conduct. Then read How to Answer. In short, we expect all contributors to do so in a friendly manner and focus on answering the question. In your whole post, there was only the last paragraph that could be considered an answer, but it contains very little specific advice. I have removed all non-answer parts and sadly the rest is not a good answer by the site’s standards.
    – Stephie
    Jan 19, 2023 at 23:13
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    Personal attacks are not welcome here, as noted in the Code of Conduct. It's okay to say that OP should be direct, but the attack on OP's parenting skills are inappropriate.
    – Joe
    Jan 20, 2023 at 2:01
  • Rollback wars are unwise at best. You've been informed that you violated the code of conduct twice; consider this is the third time. Jan 20, 2023 at 6:30

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