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Encouraging good hygiene habits for tweens

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Posted: Thursday, March 31, 2011 9:03 am | Updated: 10:33 am, Thu Mar 31, 2011.

With school, sports, friends and hobbies, today's tweens lead busy and active lives, and sometimes they don't take the time -- or know -- to practice good hygiene. While discussing proper hygiene with your tween can be difficult, it is possible to address the topic without making him or her feel uncomfortable or self-conscious.

One approach parents can take is to appeal to your tweens' growing maturity by making it clear that these self-care tasks are their responsibility. Giving your tween the respect and encouragement to make their own choices in these transitional years can help them develop healthy habits for life.

To help empower your tween to take better care of their hygiene, parents can follow these tips:

Make it fun: The tween years are all about finding a unique sense of style. This also applies to cosmetics and accessories. Allow your tween to choose their shampoos, soaps and oral care products. This will encourage them to take interest in their hygiene without you having to ask.

Brace face: Tooth brushing can be a struggle at this age. Your child may go in the bathroom for 30 seconds and declare that he or she has brushed. Kids should know that good oral care is just as important as taking a shower, especially if your child has braces. Make the process a little easier and ensure they are brushing for the proper amount of time by keeping a two minute timer in the bathroom. By supplying your tween with products in the flavors (e.g. not-too-spicy, not-too-sweet) and cool designs they will like, such as the Crest Pro-Health FOR ME Fluoride Anticavity Toothpaste, they might even forget they are doing something healthy and those two minutes will fly!

"Oral health is an important issue particularly for kids in their adolescent years. Tooth decay is still recognized as the most common chronic disease affecting children in the United States. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 51 million hours of school are lost each year due to dental-related illness1," says Dr. Jennifer Salzer, orthodontist, dentist and mother of a tween. "Not only can poor oral hygiene affect the health and well-being of a child, it also plays a role in self-esteem."

Under armor: Puberty is the first time adolescents have to deal with body odor. Help your tween understand how to control odors by explaining the difference between deodorant, which controls bacteria while adding fragrance, and antiperspirant, which stops or limits sweating. Remind your tween that both deodorant and antiperspirant will help if they put it on before they start sweating, not after.

Skincare 101: Changing hormones typically bring about oilier skin, especially on the nose and forehead. Teach your tween to wash their face once or twice a day with a cleanser and discourage them from picking, as this causes inflammation and scarring.

Lead by example: Whether they admit it or not, your tween notices your habits. Set an example by showing that a healthy hygiene routine is important to you too.

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