teenage daughter refuses to take a shower

by Kathy
(New York)

My Daughter is 15 years old and refuses to take a shower. When she is told she needs to take a shower after 3 or 4 days without taking one she yells and fights with her dad and I and says I am tired I'll take it in the morning. When the morning comes she has another excuse why she can't take it. Please do you have any advice I can use to help her want to care about herself?


Ben's Answer:

I'd be curious about the reason why she has so little self-esteem that she's willing to neglect her basic hygiene this way. If you're locked into a power struggle with her about showering, you may very well lose that fight. You could try to use some sort of coercion if you have leverage (something she wants) to get her to shower at least every other day or something. But it's not likely to achieve the most important purpose - her caring about herself. It may be that she is depressed. Sometimes kids and teens show more irritability, agitation and oppositional type behavior as signs of depression.

Not showering may also be a way for her to repel people and avoid attention by boys. It may be that she's been hurt in some way, and is trying to not be attractive.

It might be a good idea for her to talk to a therapist. When kids make a positive connection with a therapist, things often change for the better very quickly.

Any activity that can raise her self-esteem would be great to try, but if she's given up on everything, therapy is probably the place to start. You can always tell her you feel she could benefit from talking to a neutral, caring adult, besides her parents, who will hold things in confidence and help her get things off her chest.

Take Care,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherpist

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Sep 11, 2017
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Have you considered NEW
by: Anonymous

Have you researched behaviour issues?. My daughter refuses to do anything and manipulates people to get her way. She has refused bathing for years now since she was around 7/8 yrs old. It's come to light that she has PDA Pathalogical Deman Avoidance. Daily demands cause anxiety. She will scream cry verbally abuse me when she is in meltdown over having to do something or something g is e Pe yes of her. It's worth looking at as if it's anxiety based refusal then care needs to be taken and strategies suitable for them found.

Dec 05, 2015
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Does it ever end?
by: Anonymous

Ignore this poor behavior has landed me a 21 year old daughter that I still fight with to shower. I find she's just too lazy to wash her own butt. It takes me 2 days of fighting with her to get her to shower. It's embarrassing to be in public with her stinking, so I take on the fight and always win. I just wish I didn't have to go through such drastic screaming matches to get her to take care of herself. It is taking a toll on our relationship.

Ben's Reply:

To the parent of the 14 year old who wont shower because it takes too long - I would say - take away the cell phone and the ipod and see how long it takes before she gets in the shower. But for the parent of the 21 year old - more power too you. Not sure what leverage you have but use what you've got. Some "kids" are still very immature at age 21 and beyond.

Best Wishes,
Ben

Nov 09, 2015
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Don't stress
by: Anonymous

Get over it people. It's totally normal for pre teens and teens to not shower. The other stuff they are doing is more fun. It's that simple. Not a therapy issue or a sign that something is wrong. Just a sign that they no longer count you as the boss of them. Complaining about their smell in a fun manner is all that works on 3 out of 4 of my kids. The one that showers all the time is a peacock and not a reflection of normal behavior. In Australia nowdays forcing children to bathe can be considered abuse, not something I agree with. So when your kid doesn't want to shower just chill cos it's something that they do. Also in my entire life I have never heard a person say that raising their teenager was a pleasure, if no showers are your biggest concern you have it easy.

Jan 27, 2013
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teenage daughter refuses to take a shower
by: Anonymous

Ok my step daughter is 14 will not take a shower ( it takes too long) she won't even change her clothes a lot of the time. She has a whole team of people that she sees. School counselor, therapist, psychiatrist, therapeutic mentor, in-home therapy and we still struggle. Its so hard.

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