Question: Dear Luise: I have had ongoing problems with my thirteen year-old daughter’s hygiene. I have tried everything to help her succeed, but she is still having problems. She will do fine for a while and then regress. Is this normal for teens? I have a 23 year-old male, and I never had this problem. T.
Answer: Dear T. Some people, not just teens, are simply more interested in self-care than others. Occassionally teens are even obsessed with the opposite behavior. Sometimes this attitude is about laziness but it can also be about the lack of self-confidence and a positive self-image. People who are seriously depressed often drop any effort toward personal hygiene. Chronic illness will deplete energy and bring about the same result. Also, children who are angry and want to gain control when they are feeling dominated, might behave the same way. Those are just a few of the possibilities.
Observe your daughter’s other behaviors. Is there any clue there? Talk to a counselor to see if she feels it is symptomatic of something more serious. Even if that’s not the case, it could develop into a habit and cause problems for her, socially, and you are right to be concerned. Blessings, Luise