Teens who take care of their teeth have fewer cavities, fresh breath and healthier teeth. The pleasant effects of appropriate hygiene are well-received in social, dating and employment settings. According to Dr. Thomas and Dr. Chappel at Hilltop Dentistry in Missouri, the early teen years are typically the time when good hygiene habits are at their worst. Most teenagers don't take care of their teeth the way they should. In fact, 80 percent of cases of tooth decay in the United States are found in teenagers. Dental visits can become costly and inconvenient for teens and their families.
A clean body means less odor and skin problems. Taking regular showers or baths results in healthy skin with a clean, pleasant scent. According to the Nemours Foundation for Teen's Health, puberty causes many changes in a teen's body, causing skin and scalp to become oily very easily. While these changes are normal, they can cause anxiety and excessive self-consciousness. Wearing deodorant and taking regular showers goes a long way in boosting self-confidence and social acceptance.
Greasy, dirty hair is visually offensive and can often carry an unpleasant odor, especially if your teen is involved in sports. Inadequate haircare can often be the brunt of jokes against some teens who disregard haircare as an essential part of their regular hygiene routine. Regularly washed hair is aesthetically attractive and keeps dandruff from forming.
Many teens go through a stage when skin is marked with acne or blemishes. This can cause extreme anxiety and insecurity. Daily skincare is a must for keeping skin from becoming excessively oily and acne-prone. Teens who have kept a regular skincare schedule are often frustrated with persistent acne problems. A visit to the dermatologist can alleviate the social and aesthetic discomforts of acne. According to Teen's Health, skin problems can seem unmanageable for teens with acne. The affects of poor skincare on a teen's social life can also cause depression. However, maintaining an effective skincare plan reduces and often eliminates anxiety.
Discuss the basics of puberty with your teenager. Explaining what is going to change, why it is changing and how to make it easier will help her understand why hygiene is important.
Make a list of the things your child will need and allow him to pick his own hygiene products at the store. The issue will feel less forced if he is able to make his own decisions about what to use to stay clean.
Work with your teen to develop a daily hygiene routine. At the very least, a teenager should brush her teeth each day, wear deodorant and wash her face to prevent breakouts and scarring. Ideally, she should also shower every day or every other day.
Be honest but delicate with your teenager if you see a problem. It is going to be easier on the teen to have issues brought up by you, his parents, than to be made fun of at school for being smelly or dirty. If you are upfront and caring, your teen will respond to suggestions.
Male and female teenagers have vastly different hygiene experiences. Make sure to tailor your discussions to the unique issues your children will face based on their gender.
Set up the right environment to make the session enjoyable and encourage your child to be more cooperative. Your child may be more comfortable at the kitchen table or sitting on the bed than standing in front of the sink. Use a tell-show-do approach: tell the child what you are going to do, show the tools, and then perform the task slowly and carefully. Create a routine, starting at the same time every day and following the same steps each time. Finally, be patient. Just as with your child's other milestones, it may take time before oral hygiene is easy and comfortable for both of you.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. If the toothpaste bothers your child, or your child has problems swallowing, then you can simply wet the toothbrush instead. Be very gentle with all movements. Brush all sides of the tooth in a back-and-forth motion and then brush the tongue. If the child can self-brush, then you can help by gently guiding the child's arm. Adaptive toothbrushes with large handles are easier for the child to hold.
All floss does the same thing so try different kinds -- flavored, plain, waxed, unwaxed -- to find the one the child likes the best. Wrap about 18 inches of floss around the middle finger of each hand and then grip it between your thumb and forefinger. Gently floss up and down rather than in and out. Adjust the floss to bring up a clean piece as you move to each new tooth. If you have difficulty handling the floss with your fingers, try a floss holder.
If you aren't brushing at a sink, then have a bowl for spitting out the excess toothpaste. When you are done, help the child rinse and spit with plain water. If your child can't rinse then give a drink of water. For children with swallowing difficulties, you can sweep the inside of the mouth with a gauze-covered finger to get out the excess toothpaste and food particles.
Tell your children what is expected of them. For example, if you want them to put their toys away after they are finished playing with them, tell them they need to clean up after they are finished playing or they will not be able to go outside later.
Show your child how to do something correctly. If you want your child to dry the dishes before she puts them into the cabinet, demonstrate how you would like the dishes dried before they are put away.
Act the way you would like your children to act. If you want your children to be more polite in public, then let them see how polite you are to people around you. If someone cuts you off while you are driving, don't shout or curse. Instead, use a calm voice and let your daughter know that that driver just made you angry.
Create a game based on the habits you want your children to have. Turn clearing off the kitchen table and cleaning their room into a game with prizes or small rewards if they finish their chores in a specific amount of time. If you have toddler or preschool age children, an appropriate reward would be a piece of candy or a quarter for their piggy bank. A good reward for older children who have demonstrated good habits for the month could be a new book or video game.
Be consistent in building good habits in your children. It takes time to build up a routine of cleaning their bedroom everyday and brushing their teeth at night. After a few weeks of consistency, these new habits will become natural behaviors.
Join your children in whatever activity they are doing. For example, if you are trying to teach your child to brush his teeth every night before bed, brush your teeth with him. Brushing your teeth with your child daily will make the learning process more fun for him.
Your child will sometimes break his good habits once in a while. If your child goes to bed one night without brushing his teeth, don't come down too hard on him. Just remind him that he forgot to brush his teeth and that he will need to do it as soon as he wakes up in the morning.