This is a contributed post by Kara Forney of Goodguygiene. Check out their holiday box for tweens and teen boys, and use code PTTboybox for free shipping.
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 teen 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. Here are some proven strategies to talk about hygiene with our boys, turning what might be an uncomfortable sit-down into a meaningful and engaging experience.
How to Talk to Your Teenage Son About Hygiene
Start early and normalize the conversation
The earlier you start talking about hygiene, the better. Regularly discussing the basics like hand washing, bathing, and brushing teeth 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. This way when you want to explain what, exactly, sweat glands in their armpits are doing or why they might have acne, your teen is already more comfortable talking to you.
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 as you bring up topics like antiperspirant, bad breath, and why it’s important to floss.
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 (and what poor hygiene could lead to) 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”). Kids 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 good hygiene habits and how they relate to overall health. Explain how certain habits, like showering regularly, using deodorant, and clipping fingernails helps kill the bacteria that causes body odor. Discuss how good oral hygiene prevents cavities and gum disease. Help your teenager see 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 Holiday 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 also 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!
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