Hygiene problems....

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-12-2007
Hygiene problems....
Mon, 02-12-2007 - 1:57pm

My step-son does not have good hygiene habits. My husband and I are unsure of how to go about this because #1 we have only recently started getting him every other weekend since we moved to his state (he is 7) and my husband has been denied seeing him since he was 2 until now. and #2 how to do this without overstepping bounds and making sure these habits are instilled. Maybe its me not having children and this stuff is normal and he will grow out of it? Stuff includes: teeth brushing, using the toilet correctly..ie toilet paper, etc.)
Any advise would be helpful :)


iVillage Member
Registered: 06-05-2006
Mon, 02-12-2007 - 3:59pm

Let me tell you a little about my sister before I answer your question. She is a step mom, and was very excited to have her new step kids - cooked meals, went to their performances, etc. To her shock, the kids did not like her cooking, didn't want help with homework, etc. (as I recall they were in 4th or 5th grade.) The lesson she learned was GO SLOW with life style changes. (They now love her, but its taken years, and she has changed a lot of her expectations, too.)

With your stepson I urge baby steps. If DH has been out of his life for years, you don't want to start your relationship with a bunch of rules SS hates. You have great intentions, but building your relationship with him should be your first priority.

That said, it makes sense to have routines at your house that may not match routines at Mom's - including tooth brushing. Ask SS about tooth brushing at home. This should be done at a time that is not tooth brushing time. Explain to him what the toothbrushing routine will be at your house, and why tooth brushing is important. (We always brush right before bed.)

Go together to the store and let him pick out a character toothbrush. I love the electric ones - they do a better job than I can. The ones with timers are great because then its not me making a rule, but the toothbrush. I know you're supposed to brush in the AM too, but at this point I only do one really good night brush.

I go to a lot of effort to make tooth brushing fun - sing songs, tell stories, tell DD how pretty her teeth are, and how white we're making them. I would make that effort it I were you, too. Fun is more effort, but much more successful. Avoid shaming and scolding if you want success. Also, start slow. If I were you, I would do a short brush the first few nights, then a longer brush, then later add floss. We also use that ACT fluoride rinse for kids. Work up to it, though. My DD, at least, hates changes and I have to do them incrementally.

Know, too, that if SS does not do much toothbrushing at home, you might have to teach him how. Teach him about up and down strokes (not across - it damages the gums), and if you get the timer, what it tells him to do. My dentist recommends parents brush teeth until 10 years old. Others will disagree on this, but I have looked at the job my DD does, and it is not very good. (Having an only makes this a lot easier!)

That is a lot of information! The meat of it is, be respectful of SS and of your own values, and work together not against. It must be different - getting this little person that, at seven, is fairly well formed, but who does still need guidance. My favorite book is called Positive Discipline, by Jane Nelson. You won't need much discipline (I hope!) but I recommend it anyway, because it describes such a respectful relationship between parents and kids. She also has one called Positive Discipline for Blended Families. I haven't read it, but it might suit you even better.

Also, I would be cautious about the toileting until you've gotten to know SS better. It is a private area, and he might find it invasive. If he really smells, give him a bath Saturday nights (another new routine!). You can ASK him if he notices dirty underpants, or if he wants help. My hunch is doing this wrong could get you in a lot of trouble, so be careful.

Good luck, and I hope you have a wonderful loving relationship with this new person in your life.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Tue, 02-27-2007 - 2:51pm

Very nice post!

My son is STILL not "into" taking care of himself. It is getting better because he now wants girsl to like him; I took full advantage of that! LOL!!!!

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