Skip Nav
3-Year-Olds Are Kinda the Worst and Here's Why
This Artist Turns Disney Princesses Into Parents — and the Results Are Perfection
Personal Essay
Why I'm Glad I Grew Up an Only Child

3 Reasons Kids Don't Shower, and What to Do About It

3 Reasons Kids Don't Shower, and What to Do About It

3 Reasons Kids Don't Shower, and What to Do About It

Kids go through many phases as they grow up, but one of the most perplexing for many parents is when a previously clean kid starts avoiding the shower. It doesn't seem to matter that your child is otherwise vain; all of a sudden he doesn't want to bathe, wash his hair, or brush his teeth. And what's even more alarming is that not every kid goes through this phase.

So what are the causes of hygiene-neglect? Is it normal? And what can you do to help your tween or teen move through it as quickly as possible? Here, Circle of Moms members share their experiences.

1. Depression

After wondering why her daughter was skipping showers to the point that she smelled bad, Iris A. figured out that her daughter was mildly depressed. Neglecting self-care is a common symptom of depression. If someone is too sad, or too beleaguered by low self-esteem or by thoughts of emotional or social problems, self-care is one of the first things to go.


What to Do About It

Your child needn't have full-blown depression in order to exhibit these behaviors; she might simply be distracted with life at school and among her friends. One Circle of Moms parent who didn't feel the need to address the problem head-on simply took her daughter swimming a lot. It didn't address the root concern, but it effectively got her clean! Another, Jen T., bought her daughter body wash as an indirect way of communicating that she needed it, and also takes her daughter's laundry out of her room so that she wears clothes only once.

If you have any inkling that your child might be depressed, take him to see a counselor, psychologist, or other mental health care provider right away. A professional might be able to see something you can't.


2. Laziness

Michele W. was shocked when her son hit puberty and stopped changing his socks and underwear. He still applied deodorant, but only in lieu of showering. He seemed to be too tired to bother with basic hygiene.

Should You Force the Issue? 

Michele and several other Circle of Moms members say this is natural and not worth fighting since it's a phase that passes when the hormonal surges die down. They point out that there are good reasons teenagers are so lethargic and lazy; they are growing and changing rapidly, both physically and emotionally.

Karen A. agrees that showering is not worth a fight, but draws a line at teeth brushing: her kids must, absolutely, brush their teeth, as not doing so has long-term health consequences.

3. Asserting Control

The push-pull that underlies many aspects of parenting tends to come to a head during the teen years. Power struggles are magnified — and what better way for a teen to exercise some power than to control the one thing that's undeniably his own and no one else's? The body is precisely that thing, and that's why, as Melanie B. explains, only some kids go through this phase. If you don't think your teen is depressed or overly hormonal, then chalk it up to a willful temperament that may one day serve them well.

"Kids Don't Smell Themselves"

Jen T. thinks the reason for many teens' neglect of personal hygiene is often very simple: Kids don't smell themselves! Whatever the root cause of your teen's neglect of hygiene, try to understand the context in which it's happening, so that you can choose an appropriate response — which may well be to do nothing and wait for the phase to pass.

Image Source: via iStockPhoto

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Join The Conversation
Red67352 Red67352 4 years
It is so nice to know that I am not alone! I have been having a wonderful uphill battle getting my 14, thats right 14 year old son to shower. Now since the onset of acne he is slightly taking about 3-4 a week :/ I have bought him Axe stuff and even taken this boy to Bath an Body works with me to get his own body wash and lotions etc. If I didn't know better I would say he was using his hormonal boy stink to infect the noses of his older sister and myself, and not only is it tyrannical of me to tell the child he stinks but there have been days where he could kill a herd of wild animals with that stench. I am hoping he almost starts liking girls so he will wash his butt. But only almost.
donnadiorka donnadiorka 4 years
As a Hairstylist, using a 'tea tree' shampoo is fantastic for oily hair, even scaly, dry scalp. It is a natural antiseptic and works great without a perscription. Good luck. D'
TinaBlondek TinaBlondek 5 years
Hello ladies Thank you for your informative responses. I am a mother of a soon to be 12 year old girl. So far, this has not been a problem, but I do have to sometimes go into the bathroom while she is showering to make sure she is washing her hair properly. Also have to remind her to brush her hair properly, put on deodorant, and brush her teeth properly. Nancy, I am sorry you and your daughter are having a hard time with this, and it seems that her teacher is not being to nice about it. I like the idea that Vonn gave about the homemade shampoos and conditioners, you might want to give this a try. We have to continue to be on top of our teens to make sure they are doing their personal hygiene properly! Best of luck to you all!
minna85520 minna85520 5 years
They don't have to shower-they use Axe! Ask ant 13 year old boy. Minna
NancySpencer NancySpencer 5 years
My oldest daughter has natural oily hair but i'm tired of the school calling to inform me that she needs to shower more, just yesterday a teacher called me and informed me I need to make sure she washes her hair twice with shampoo durning each shower. I tried to tell her that my daughter washes her hair and the woman had nerve to tell me that my daughter don't use soap then. My daughter has oily skin also and has acne, I've bought her everything for it but nothing seems to work. Her father also had acne when he was a teenager and I don't know what to do to help her.
When Can Kids Ride in Front Seat of Car?
How to Deal With Middle School Drama
KJ Apa Shirtless Pictures
100 Unusual Boy Names
From Our Partners
Latest Moms
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds