difficult child 1's hygiene is still an issue and I don't know what to do about it.

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Californiablonde, Oct 18, 2012.

  1. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    Ugh! So I just received an email from my daughter's case carrier/teacher. She told me that difficult child told her she hasn't showered in four days. I have no idea why difficult child would volunteer this information, but she did. Her teacher asked me to please make sure she showers tonight, because it's important for her hygiene. I don't know what to do with this girl anymore. I thought that once she entered high school she would start caring about her looks, but she just doesn't. Her hair is always super oily. She has acne because she doesn't wash her face. I have asked her multiple times to take daily showers but most of the time she flat out refuses. Last night was another battle. I told her she needed to take a bath and wash her hair before watching any TV. She chose to go to bed early rather than shower. She promised she would get up early and take a bath this morning. I argued with her, telling her that she is VERY hard to wake up in the morning and that I didn't trust her to get up in time. She promised she would do it, but of course she never did. I had to practically drag her out of bed to get her up and ready to go to school.

    I just texted her this morning, telling her that her teacher was complaining, and that she absolutely had to take a shower tonight and wash her hair. I know it's going to be yet another battle tonight. She is going to her dad's tomorrow night, so she absolutely HAS to wash her hair tonight. He is gonna absolutely freak on me if she doesn't. He blames me for her lack of hygiene. I have no idea what else to do. Everybody is pointing fingers and blaming me. Her teacher, therapist, her dad and I have all had numerous talks with her about her hygiene issues. It doesn't do any good. I'm sick of getting the blame. She's fourteen and should be caring about how she looks/smells. She doesn't. How do I motivate her to take better care of herself? I'm seriously at a loss here.
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Either the diagnosis list isn't complete, or the medications need adjusting - not as in replacing what is there, but she may need something else. So often... hygene issues go with depression. And yes, she's on medications for bi-polar, but... is there any chance that she has depression on top of the bi-polar? Or something else... who knows what else.

    I'm more familiar with depression... and it's huge impact on hygene... and if it's depression, all the talk in the world has ZERO impact.
  3. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    Well I keep asking her if anything is bothering her but she says no. I ask her about depression and anxiety all the time. She insists there is none. Her therapist has asked her the same questions but she flat out denies it with her too. I don't know what else to do.
  4. Hopeless

    Hopeless ....Hopeful Now

    I was going to suggest depression as well. My difficult child had the hygiene issue with her depression. Sorry not much help here :(
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I see t hat your son has Aspergers. Has her doctor ever considered that she may be on the spectrum? Many spectrum kids don't care about hygiene. My son is one. Here is a typical conversation about hygiene with him:

    Me: If you smell bad people won't like it.

    Him: (shrug and with good nature) They don't have to smell me.

    Me: (trying another tack. In a teasing mood) If you smell and look good, girls will like ya!

    Him: I don't want girls to like me. Girlfriends are too much trouble and I'm never getting married.

    You get the point. He doesn't really care and he does have friends anyway. Often we make him shower. He goes into the bathroom and we hear the shower going. He comes out wet. How well he is showering, who knows? He is totally disinterested in social norms. If we never reminded him, I wonder if he'd ever shower.

    Whatever the problems are, it's not your fault she doesn't care about her hygiene. She si fourteen. What are you supposed to do? Strip her, hold her under the shower and wash her and her hair? At her age, she has to willingly do it. If Dad is so smart, let HIM get her to take care of her appearance.

    If she has NEVER cared about her appearance, sounds like she has something that puts her outside the boundaries of socially appropriate. Depression most certainly CAN and WILL make one possibly not care how he/she looks. But if she has always been this way, maybe it's something else. Just a thought...
  6. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    MWM has a good point.

    In addition... you don't handle "depression" by asking the person if they are depressed. They will ALWAYS say NO. So, I'm not sure what kind of therapist you have.... or psychiatrist, for that matter.

    Our psychiatrist took our concerns about "depression and/or anxiety" seriously... either way, it was a mood-disorder, and either can cause all sorts of unexpected challenges, including hygene. And yes, hygene is one of her questions.

    So... I'd be suggesting (again) a NEW comprehensive evaluation with NEW doctors. It's going to be something more than bi-polar. Aspie? Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)? Depression? (whatever else) but it's something. And no, at 14, a girl cannot get away without good hygene... there are health risks involved.
  7. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    These are just ideas off the cuff. I never had a daughter with hygiene problems....so...haven't been there done that.
    Possible choices:
    1. If she has begun to develop as a young woman then perhaps you could sit quietly with her and explain that as she is nearing adulthood her body changes in many ways. Although it is wonderful to grow up extra care has to be taken to avoid body odors that little girls don't have to worry about it. You might include that hormones can results in extra oil in the skin (explaining her blemishes) and that special soaps/treatments can help. The addition of hair to the body also can result in unpleasant body odors. Girl to Girl you might be able to present it as a "womanly" development that requires more care than children need.
    2. You might explore bubblebaths or oils with her choosing what she likes to smell. (Just hope it isn't musk! LOL)
    3. Perhaps she might like a new short haircut that she can easily rinse and shake.
    4. Perhaps new towels that are just hers might make it special.
    5. It might make a difference if she gets to choose when the bathroom is just hers on a regular schedule.
    6. Maybe a radio or CD player OR books on tape would make the bathing time pass faster.

    THEN...if positive reinforcement doesn't do the trick...SIGH...then maybe you need an agreement that she can only watch her favorite program ??? or whatever ??? after she has bathed.

    Mainly I think I would just flat out ask her "what changes can we make so that your hygiene improves before problems begin for you. She might surprise you...and tell you she doesn't like the noise or the feel of a shower or something that you would never have imagined. Good luck. DDD
  8. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    Well she's been evaluated for autism as well as everything else. She has been evaluated by the school, a psychiatrist, and a very competent neuropsychologist. I absolutely, totally do NOT see her on the spectrum. Her and difficult child 2 are as different as night and day. They don't share any of the same issues. Yes, I know that autism can look different on different people, but in my heart of hearts I know it's not that. I am ready to believe the depression more than anything. I am taking her to psychiatrist next week for a medication re-evaluation. I will bring it up then. Right now she's more on the manic side. Not sleeping and terrible attitude. She could be half manic half depressed. When I'm in a mixed state I feel absolutely TERRIBLE. She could be going through something similar. Unfortunately she doesn't have any friends yet at this new school. Not one. She says she doesn't care because she has plenty of friends at her after school boys and girl's club. But I think she's only lying to herself. How fun can it be for her to go to school every day, sit by herself at lunch time, and have nobody to talk to all day long? I know if it were me in high school, I would be miserable. I really think more is going on with her than she is letting on. She never used to give me any problems about bathing every day. As a matter of fact, she used to love going in the bath and would do it on her own. And by the way, she never gives her dad a hassle about taking showers. It's just me.
  9. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    While I absolutely agree that the underlying issue of not wanting to shower needs to be identified and addressed, I'm a little ticked at audacity of teacher. I do tend to have a knee-jerk reaction to this kind of junk from schools - to me the insinuation is that you personally have no clue about hygiene and need this teacher to remind *you* to remind your kid to shower.

    I would respond with a very sweet email thanking her for her concern, assuring her that you are well aware of difficult child's issues with hygiene and that this has been an ongoing problem at home that you are trying to address daily. I'd then suggest that, as part of her IEP and transition goals, perhaps appropriate hygiene could also be addressed by the IEP team, so that difficult child gets a consistent message in all settings. I've been known to get kind of snarky with- these kinds of folks, so it would be hard to resist throwing in there that if teacher is aware of a strategy to get difficult child into the shower, you'd welcome her input - and then list the strategies you have tried thus far.

    Yes, our kids need to shower. Absolutely NO, you are not the first parent to deal with this. It's not like she's 2 and you can toss her in the tub. I agree with you - she has got to take some personal responsibility for it. As far as teacher..... sigh. Don't take it personally. Some people are just clueless.

    I once got a note from a teacher requesting that I make sure Boo wore a coat to school - it was getting "cold" and he would get "sick." Because, what? My quadriplegic son was sneaking out of the house without a coat (call Ripley's!!!!)? I'm too stupid to know what was appropriate clothing for him? She got a packet from me about the cause of illnesses (bacteria/viruses, not outdoor temperature), the effects of neurologic damage on body temperature regulation, a list of side effects of his medications (he can't sweat), documentation of the heat-retaining properties of his wheelchair seat fabric, and finally a simply beautiful article from the National Institute of Health debunking the old wives' tale that being in cooler weather without a coat causes people to get sick, along with reassurances that since I got him up in the morning, dressed him, and took him out to the bus, I was fully aware of what he was wearing and that his attire was appropriate for *him*.

    Sometimes you really just have to spell it out in plain simple English for folks. ;)
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Bipolar can cause hygiene problems. I think I like DDD's ideas.

    When I was in HS I had a really hard time about wanting to wash my hair everyday. I have always been very bad about styling my hair and applying make up so I would go to only washing my hair once or twice a week. I would take a bath more often but I didnt like the feel of washing my hair. Growing older and taking care of the kids at home didnt make it much better. Now if I actually had somewhere I had to go then I would make the effort. It was really hard for me to put in the effort of showering/washing my hair every other day when I worked.

    Now...with my depression and all that is going on, I can go a week without doing it. I realize that isnt good but it is so difficult for me with both my mental and physical issues so I have a difficult time performing the required acts. I need physical help.

    I think DDD has a good idea about asking your daughter if she would like a shorter haircut. I got mine cut shorter and I also go to the hair salon at least once every two weeks for them to wash my hair well. They only charge me $4 to wash it. I dont have them dry it though. Just wash and towel dry. That might be something to think about.

    Also, if your daughter's hair is really oily, dye it a shade darker or lighter than it is now and that will dry it out. I did that to my middle sons hair because his hair was fairly oily in his teens.
  11. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    Yes I emailed the teacher back and explained to her that I am trying to work with difficult child on her hygiene but she refuses to listen to me. We already discussed this exact same issue in the IEP on Tuesday but apparently little miss case carrier wasn't paying attention. I had already explained that I have tried everything, and even told her therapist good luck trying to convince her cause I sure can't. Her dad has already threatened to cut her hair short if she doesn't start washing it. difficult child hates short hair. She is overweight and insists that the shorter her hair is, the fatter she looks (her words.) I am going to threaten her tonight that if she doesn't wash it, I am going to give her dad the go ahead to cut it off. Hopefully that will work.
  12. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    I LOVE this suggestion!!!
  13. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I briefly read through the responses but wanted to address this based on my own experience with now 23 year old difficult child.

    difficult child loved baths as a little kid. Just around the time her body began to change, she began to be a pita about showering or bathing. It became a daily struggle that never ended. I spoke with her about personal hygiene till I was blue in the face...over and over again. When her period started, omg, you'd think she'd get with the program, but no. Nothing changed, one of her teachers, ironically a woman who always smelled like bad BO and never wore a bra, called me and said that some of the other girls asked her why difficult child had greasy hair. I laughed right in her ear. I said, "Hey, if you have an idea that will work, please, PLEASE, do tell". I never got another call again. At the next PPT I brought up the fact that she is a difficult child with several varied diagnosis that overlap one another, ahem, there are just too many things for me to be on top of and I will continue to tell difficult child she needs to bathe, but no mo battles. She needs to figure this one out on her own.

    Now the bad news...it hasn't gotten much better. She still showers about every three to four days...almost never brushes her teeth and her hair is almost always in a perpetual pony tail knot. No face washing, no makeup, no dressing nice for work, etc. She will even put deoderant on every day without bathing, ew. That said, she does use bathroom wipes as a means of keeping her privates cleaned up at least. I do not know how her fiancé can stand it, honestly.

    I suppose it can be tied in with her depression, Tourette's Syndrome, anxiety, or mood disorder, but I don't think this behavior can be attributed to only depression or any diagnosis really. I think the best thing you can do at this point is try to persuade her to shower and tell the team at school to back off. Best of luck. I really do not think you a going to be able to solve this. She needs to want to shower. Incidentally, once my difficult child was finally in and done bathing or showering, she always felt great...but then four days would pass and I'd be back to nagging again. Hugs.
  14. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Jo...I understand about her feeling great after taking the showers. I am always so happy after I get out too. Then its a week until I can convince Tony to help me back in. I am actually afraid of slipping when getting out. I get dizzy from hot water not to mention I dont get out of the house or bed much anymore.
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Is it possible that she has sensory problems that make showering or bathing unpleasant? Years ago, when Wiz was first diagnosis'd, I went to a support group for parents of aspies and almost every single one of the parents there said that their child had huge problems with bathing/showering. One stuck in my head because they would actually bathe their adult daughter because she couldn't stand the feel of either bar soap or liquid soap on her hands. They provided baby wipes for ehr hand washing after using the restroom because she would NOT wash with soap. The daughter was in her mid thirties and the parents were in their late 60's and they were very worried about her future because they were in bad health and there were no relatives who would help her and no services for her to help if they were gone.

    I just wonder if your difficult child maybe is dealing with sensory issues and maybe that approaching that would help in some way?
  16. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    We have issues with this, with Jett. He's gotten better, but - he showered Thursday after he came to visit us in the hospital and then... On Sunday when we got home Mom noticed he was in the same clothes as FRIDAY. And Jett has some pretty intense personal odor. This was before he even hugged me... We had issues with impetigo on his FACE last spring and then again at the beginning of school this year (though hygiene this year is better and washing helped). The nurse called me and told me I had to have him WASH WELL. I asked her to convince him, because I had tried. She called the next week and apologized. Kid you not.

    And this, after years of him complaining that other kids said he stunk... When he then did not take showers or baths, I finally in exasperation told him - if you won't bathe, do NOT complain to me that other kids say you stink. Interestingly, weeknight showers are no longer much of an issue during the school year...

    That said. 150 years ago, especially outside of the city, people did not bathe every day. (Little House on the Prairie anyone?) The phrase "don't throw out the baby with the bathwater" came about because bathwater was brought in - the man of the house bathed first, then the boys, the women, the girls and finally the infants... Pretty nasty eh? And deodorant didn't exist. No one noticed the stench because everyone smelled.

    Last Thursday morning, I took a shower. Went to the hospital. Did no more than wash my face and pits (Saturday) till Sunday late morning... And OMG that shower felt like heaven. I hate going without a shower. Well, I did not have the energy on Monday, but on Tuesday, Wednesday, today - yes. And today's was after 2 PM. I feel gross if I don't. When I take a bath, I shower afterward because all that dirt loosened and got in the water and got all over me. But that's different. And - I do NOT use soap every shower - my skin cannot handle it. I rarely wash my face with anything but water. And I do have a few zits - but that's it - and that is the way I've been. Too much washing will actually make skin and hair greasier. The skin/scalp overcompensates. (Proven fact, not my opinion LOL!)

    If she does not care, I would make it mandatory that she shower, say, every 3 days. 10 minutes. Then after a while, she's growing up, make it every other day. That should help... Some... And if not... Sigh.
  17. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    Hey! When I was growing up in France in the 1950's I bathed once a week.
  18. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You know what Step...you reminded me of something. When Jamie was an infant he had exema. We could not bathe him every day. Under doctors order we could only bathe him twice a week. Now we did keep his diaper area clean using wet wash rags and pouring warm water over that area. We didnt have the money to buy a bunch of wet wipes back then so we saved those for being out on the town. At home I cut up old tee shirts. Very soft. He truly was afraid of the water for the first two years because of only taking those rare few baths. I made the biggest mistake of my life when I was trying to get him used to taking baths and bought him this cool toy that had boats and the marina stuck to the bathtub. In order to make the water turn blue I put calgon into the water. Oh was that a mistake! He came out bright red from the waist down like I had burned him. Like a chemical burn. I was horrified. I rushed him to the doctor and it was the calgon. it was too harsh for his skin. Sheesh. I was so dumb back then.

    With Keyana we just dunked her in the kitchen sink a couple of times a week. I bit of baby soap and no issues. I just poured water over her with a cup. Made it easier on my back too.
  19. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    Well I convinced her to take a shower and wash her hair last night with little coaxing. I was surprised. I expected a huge battle. She did, however, battle with me for a whole hour about going to her dads. She screamed and cried and told me she was refusing to go. Finally I called my mom and she talked to her and calmed her down. So it was a rough night but not in the way I expected....sigh.
  20. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    You are documenting this, right?
    Ideally, every time you call your Mom for situations like this, she should be keeping a journal, too.
    All of this "for future reference", of course.