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On Parenting
Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 02/10/2012

Making hygiene less of a hassle: Advice from Marguerite Kelly

(Hadley Hooper - For The Washington Post)
From elsewhere in The Post: A 12-year-old girl has taken a relaxed approach to showering. It’s not a daily activity for her, and she’s also not a fan of taking care of her hair. She hardly washes it and winces when someone else brushes it. Her stepparent turns to advice columnist Marguerite Kelly for help.

“My stepdaughter has told us that she waits several days to bathe at her mother’s house, where she lives most of the time, and that she doesn’t change her underwear from one shower to the next. When we see her, which happens once a week and every other weekend, she often tells us that she hasn’t bathed since we saw her last,” says the parent.
“Her mom thinks that this is just a phase and has jokingly told us she has “given up” on getting her daughter to brush her hair and, presumably, to bathe.”

Nagging won’t get this girl to change, says Kelly, but there are other ways to convince her to improve her hygiene.

Kelly says calling in an occupational therapist may help. A sensory processing disorder can make drops of water from a shower head “feel like sharp little darts to her, and the brush that someone pulls through her hair may truly hurt her scalp.”

However, a cheaper solution, suggests Kelly, is to make bath time more exciting.

“Give her bubble bath to lure her into the tub, conditioner to make it easier to brush her hair, deodorant to keep the goatish smell away and a few pairs of cute panties so she will want to change them more often.”

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