Teenage pong

It is a fascinating experience watching your children grow and transform from children into teenagers. Wonderful to watch, but sometimes not so nice to smell.

How do you let your son know he smells like a billy goat without offending him? Here’s a cunning line, “I’m wondering if that deodorant is strong enough for you. Do you want me to get you a better one?” You have got your message across, but he has saved face because the supposed sub-standard deodorant is taking the blame. Similarly, with foot odour, pass the blame onto the shoes, “Hmm, those shoes of yours must have a synthetic liner or something. Better change your socks every day with them because those shoes can really make your feet hot and sweaty.”

Make it sound like you are talking about something else, like, shower routines. You might say something like, “Now that you are a teenager and need a shower every morning, do you want to have yours before I have mine or after?” Likewise, laundry arrangements can give a clear idea that you are expecting them to change their socks and underwear daily, and probably their shirts and blouses as well. Phrases like, “Tomorrow’s clothes are in the basket” will give them a hint as to what needs to change and when.

Give coaching feedback. Teenagers usually flip from a Neanderthal-like indifference in matters of personal hygiene to a stage where they want to blitz their bodies with every chemical known to mankind. Give some encouraging feedback that lets them know that their efforts are appreciated but they still need some fine-tuning. “Nice after-shave son, but you don’t have to marinate in it. Just a splash does the trick.”

Give reassurance. Fear of body odour and bad breath are sometimes the source of adolescent anxiety. They worry that they can’t smell it but everyone else can. If you just casually say, “You smell nice and fresh,”  they will probably act as if they didn’t hear you but inside they are shouting “Hooray!”

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John Cowan

Writer, speaker and broadcaster, John Cowan shares his insight and opinions about the latest in parenting and family news in New Zealand. Hear John speak on radio stations every week throughout the country and regularly on national TV.  Follow @JohnCowanNZ on Twitter

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