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Your Child’s Personal Hygiene Habits

How soon should your child start wearing deodorant?  How often do your kids floss?  And will they ever remember to do this stuff themselves??

Personal hygiene is an important collection of habits.  It can take time to develop routines to the point where things seem more automatic.  (I hope I’m not still reminding my 7-year old to brush her teeth when she’s a senior in high school.)

Certainly, every kid may need a different amount of support for these tasks.  But by mid to late elementary school, you should be able to stay at least somewhat hands-off.

Bathing and Wearing Deodorant

How soon should your child start wearing deodorant?  Each of your children may be a little, but many kids need it by third or fourth grade.  Even if you don’t notice any really bad body odors by that time, it would be great to help your child develop the habit.  That kind of thing can sneak up on you.

Your child may not notice this change, and body odor can affect how other kids accept them socially.  By middle elementary school, they may need to take a quick shower or bath nearly every day of the week.  However, take the season into consideration.  If your kids aren’t working up a real sweat for a day or two, you may be able to stretch it out a little more.

Kids Flossing Their Teeth

I know I often felt a twinge of guilt when I went to my dental appointments as a kid (and even as an adult).  When the hygienist asked if I was flossing, I almost always said “no.”  How much difference could it make, anyway?

That’s changed the last couple of years.  One of my girls has had to pay particular attention to her dental health and was required to floss daily – no ifs, ands, or buts.  That made me think, “If she has to do this every day, and I have to remind her, why don’t we all join her?”

Once we started doing that, my hygienist noticed the difference with me.  She said it’s like life insurance for your teeth.  Plus, my kids’ dentist saw an improvement in their gum health.  OK, OK, it does matter.  Make it habit for yourself, and it will follow more easily for your kids.

Developing These Good Habits

You already know it can take a while for kids to develop habits.  Even when they know what to do, they can need some reminders.  Once you know they understand what to do, you may still need to do a verbal prompt for a while.  Then try adding it to a list so your only cue is for them to do everything on it.

Someday, maybe when they are ready to graduate from high school, they might remember to floss and put on deodorant without a reminder from you!

Creative Commons License photo credit: EvelynGiggles

Your Child’s Personal Hygiene Habits

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2011). Your Child’s Personal Hygiene Habits. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 3 Jun 2011
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