Tooth Brushing, Showers and Teens. Oh, My!

Troubled Teens, Unmotivated Young Adults and Hygiene

Once parents begin to see real changes in their teens, they take me aside and in a hushed voice they ask: “Do you think you could get him/her… to brush?”

Brushing and showering are often the most daunting things to get young people to buy into on a regular basis these days. (Less so, once they start having a regular dating partner)
I have found a simple way to get young adults to bring showering and tooth brushing into their daily routines.
I will share it with you but first you must let go of three things:


Three things you must relinquish:
1) Stop thinking that they are disgusting aliens for not doing what you think is common sense.. It is not common sense to them. It is, in fact, equally alien to do it.
2) Let go of any guilt you may have about this “issue”. It really isn’t about you. It really is about them.
3) Free yourself from judging, checking, testing etc. If it hasn’t worked by now, it will not only not work, it will make them equate doing these things with “giving in”.

The Magic Hygiene Formula:
Errr. There is no magic formula. Sorry 🙁
But wait! There is good news! I really do get all my clients to brush and bathe but it is a slow process.

The basics of WWYM Life Coaching is using some self-chosen tasks and a daily scheduler to help young people get things done that are external i.e. not what they feel like doing at the moment but things they had determined in advance that they would like to be able to do.
Once we have this system working (it takes about 12 weeks) we can add personal hygiene items and these issues slowly resolve themselves with very little effort.
The trick is having them decide that it makes sense in a rational time (our sessions) and then go about deciding what a good starting point might be.

For those who never brush, it might be brushing five times a week. Now, I’m sure a lot of people reading this would say that this isn’t good hygiene and won’t prevent their teeth from rotting.
But once you can instill a habit in somebody, it is not that more difficult to get them to brush six days out of seven. Then to brush twice a day and eventually, it becomes a habit that is automatic.

What we consider “obvious” is not to them. It therefore requires the patient steady training and the explanation of the advantage of daily habits. It works and it works without having to nag!

So what about showering? Follow the same formula. If they rarely do it, find a few days a week that might be good practice targets for showering. It has to fit into a routine and you have to make sure that it makes sense to mix into their habits.

Do you have a story about hygiene? Let us know and we’ll share it!

Author: Ken_Rabow

Ken Rabow is the Mentor's Mentor for Troubled Teens, Young Adults and their Families