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Keeping it Clean: Talking Hygiene with Your Tween/Teen Son

Navigating the choppy waters of boyhood hygiene can be tricky.  Bodies are changing, voices are lowering, and attitudes are all over the map seemingly from one hour to the next.  You want to have the necessary discussions about hygiene and personal care, but how do you embark on this conversation without turning it into a lecture or a cringe-fest? It’s all about equipping our young guys with the know-how to tackle their day with confidence, ensuring they feel empowered and informed, not shamed or embarrassed.  At Good Guygiene, we’ve got some proven strategies to talk about hygiene with our boys, turning what might be an uncomfortable sit-down into a meaningful and engaging experience.

Start Early and Normalize the Conversation: The earlier you start talking about hygiene, the better. Regularly discussing the basics like hand washing, bathing, and oral care from a young age establishes hygiene as a normal topic of conversation and allows you to easily introduce new topics relevant to their age, such as using deodorant, managing body odor, and shaving.

Lead with Empathy: Acknowledge up front that puberty and bodily changes can be strange and sometimes embarrassing. Show empathy and understanding. Share your own experiences if appropriate, to help make the topic relatable and natural.

Less Lecture Series, More Podcast:  Think of it as your “Personal Care Podcast” with your son—lots of practical episodes with give-and-take discussions.  The tone is conversational, not authoritative, and with plenty of humor mixed in.  He’s your special guest, so make him feel comfortable and part of the conversation.

Set the Stage:  We can’t stress this enough—car ride, car ride, car ride.  Or any other situation, like a walk or playing catch, where you are not directly staring into each other’s faces.  Conversations with our tweens and teens comes easier when we are engaged in an activity with them, so look for (or create) those opportunities.

Be Direct but Sensitive: Be clear about what good hygiene entails but in a way that is sensitive to their feelings. Avoid making negative comments (“you stink”) about their current hygiene practices and focus on the positives of adopting better habits (“guys at your age need to shower every day to stay clean and healthy”). They may not show it, but they are highly sensitive to criticism at this age and often interpret what we think is an innocent or funny comment into something negative about themselves.

Educate About the ‘Why’: They need to understand the logic of hygiene and how it relates to overall health.  Explain how certain habits, like showering regularly and using deodorant, helps kill the bacteria that causes body odor. Discuss how good oral hygiene prevents cavities and gum disease. Make the connection between personal hygiene and overall wellness, self-esteem, and social interactions.  Give them the bigger picture.

Empower with Information and Tools: It’s our job to equip them with the information and tools they need to take care of their hygiene, so let them experiment with products and choose the ones they like. Create a hygiene kit (or get them a curated set like the Good Guygiene Box) with core products that they need on a daily basis. Giving them agency and choice over their hygiene routine will encourage them to take the reins and be more motivated to engage.

Encourage Questions and Dialogue: Remember— podcast, not lecture. Create an open atmosphere where they feel comfortable asking questions, no matter how awkward or embarrassing. Answer honestly and provide reassurance. This two-way communication shows that you respect their growing independence and are there to support them.

The hygiene journey with our boys is about more than just cleanliness; it’s setting the stage for lifelong self-care and confidence. With a mix of humor, patience, and practical advice, we’re not just teaching hygiene routines; we’re imparting valuable life skills. So, as they step out of the bathroom and into the world, freshly showered and proudly sporting their newly discovered deodorant, give yourself a pat on the back for turning potential awkward moments into opportunities for growth, laughter, and connection.  Here’s to the sweet smell of success, Boy Moms!