How do you make a 10 year old take care of herself?

Brandi - posted on 12/30/2012 ( 6 moms have responded )




So my step daughter does not like to take baths or brush her teeth. I was washing clothes today and found poopy underwear and after asking the kids who they were for, she said they were her's. She also said that she wore them for 3 days. She is not with me and her dad much so I can not force her into the habit of keeping herself clean when she is not here. She also told me that she would rather had "dog crap" breath and yellow teeth with crap caked on them than to brush her teeth because she does not like brushing her teeth. It's the same thing with taking a bath. She does not like to bathe so she will go the 2 weeks that she is with her mom and only take 1 bath in that time period. What do I do? I already tried talking to her about taking care of herself and nothing seems to make her care that she is full of crap (literally) and that she stinks.


Ariana - posted on 12/30/2012




At this age she might not get it, but I would speak to her (or have her father speak to her) about how other people (kids especially) get grossed out by something who smells and has bad breath. She doesn't want other kids to stop hanging out with her because she smells weird.

I would also get your husband to speak with her mother since her mom is the one who's got her the most. She can't just not bathe or brush her teeth. These things are habits, most kids don't like doing it initially and their parents have to. Unfortunately she isn't concerned about it at all right now. The mom really needs to step up and make sure her daughter is consistently taking care of herself.

Are you managing to get her to bathe and brush her teeth while she is with you? If so I think that's the best you can do for now. Make sure she's consistently maintaining hygiene while she is in your and your husbands care. If you have an incident where there is 'poopy underwear' make her clean it up herself. Don't do it as a punishment as much as self-care. She needs to understand if she ends up with poopy underwear at your house she's going to have to clean it up. If you have her for a weekend make sure she bathes every day, not just once, to help put her in the habit.

You might also want to go get her 'special' soaps and bathing things. You or your husband could bring her to a shop and let her pick out which scents she likes and what type of lotions/shampoos she can get. Get her special toothpaste if she wants. Have some for your house but also let her take it home to her house. Try to make it into a positive thing about how she's growing up and you want her to have special fancy soaps etc to use. It might not work but she may decide she likes the smell of the stuff and want to use it.

Also at 10 she might be like this and by the time she's 13 you'll be on here talking about how she won't get out of the shower in the morning and spends 40 minutes trying to do her hair. As she gets more aware of her looks (and smell), as well as other kids, she's going to start conforming to that.

You may also want to bring her to the dentist more frequently (if financially possible) to get her teeth cleaned. If she has her grown-up teeth you don't want them to be messed up forever because she's going through a gross phase right now.

I would have her father talk to her about this as well as he should speak to the mother about this. Make sure she's staying clean while she's at your house and developing those skills there at least. Try to give her 'special' products that might encourage her to care about it a bit more and I would definitely be taking her to the dentist more often.

Good luck!


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Chasmodai - posted on 01/07/2013




To add to the other suggestions, I suggest exercising your authority in your home, and saying, everyone brushes their teeth after meals, and everyone bathes and changes all their clothes every day. In other words, all the kids follow the same rules and are held to the same standard. Even the parents. It's a part of "what we do." It's important that she is not treated like a guest or a visitor in your home, but an identified part of the family who is subject to the same rules and participating in the same values and culture.

A tool that can be used with some kids are hygiene charts. They are like chore charts, but they list personal hygiene tasks instead. Filling out the chart can result in a reward. Not filling out the chart results in a consequence, like losing tv time.

Cecilia - posted on 01/06/2013




I do think a shopping trip is in order. Start off with lunch together. This will help relax everyone and make it a ore fun trip. Buy all the girly frilly things lotions, bath salts, bubbles. Let her pick out her own hair brush, tooth brush, tooth paste (you might want to buy something in sensitive form), lotions, shoot even get some nail polish. Feel free to let your girls come if you think they will have fun doing this together. This might keep her from feeling picked on too.

What I would do after that is to help her make a bathroom basket (your girls can join in on this and make their own) Get cardboard, any fabric (can be a shirt they loved but out grew), and a hot glue gun. Simply cut the cardboard the size you want, if needed glue it back together to make a box again, glue on fabric and make a handle. This way each girl has her own bathroom essentials baskets.

I understand that it's hard to teach good habits when she has bad examples around her. Just stick with it and explain you would prefer if she keeps up with her hygiene when she is spending time with you. (don't say my house because i think that might seem offensive)

Why would the mother be offended? I don't think she would be offended by a fun shopping trip with you.. that's all it is. She might get offended if you try to tell her that she is doing it wrong. I would avoid doing that right now. If she is doing well bathing at your house it will start to carry over into her mother's house. The mother does not need to know why she is doing better.

Ariana - posted on 12/31/2012




You might want to just give her the special bath things. I'm not saying never get your girls that stuff but at the moment she might enjoy having her own special things. She'll be more impressed if it's just her getting it and not just you guys deciding to get stuff for everyone. If she's the oldest one you can always say it's because she's growing up and older, and you'll buy those special things for your girls when they're her age. If they're her age then you should get them things also but at a different time.

But yeah it is difficult when she's your step-daughter. It's really to bad her mom isn't taking care of her properly.

Brandi - posted on 12/30/2012




I appreciate the suggestions. I have talked to my husband about it and I have suggested for him to talk to my step daughter and her mom about it. It makes it hard when her mom is impossible and her dad does not do what he needs to as her father. (he is very non confrontational while his ex throws a fit over every stupid thing) I never thought of buying her special bath stuff. I know my other girls would like that so I'm sure she would too. I am going to try that, however, I do worry that her mom will be offended since this is not the first time it has been mentioned by me. The child would come to my house complaining about burning and itching because she had not had a bath in at least a week and while it was not my place, I did get mad and tell her something about it. She also told me that her mom does not take a bath very how can I expect her to have good hygiene habits when her mom does not.

Lacye - posted on 12/30/2012




It sounds like you need to have your husband step in and talk to her. This is one of those things that as a stepmother, you aren't going to have as much pull as an actual biological parent. Have you talked to your husband about this?

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