We have an 11 year old foster son. He is diagnosed with ADHD, PTSD and some self harming behaviors. He is a great kid, but is VERY lazy when it comes to personal hygeine, which I'm guessing is typical of an 11 year old boy. He was in a couple different residential facilities with very strict personal hygeine rules (showers and laundry were done on a schedule).
Well he is doing great at our house and has told his therapist and case manager that he loves it here. I am with him all the time and I can usually tell when something is bothering him. Lately, though, I have noticed that his clothes REEK of urine. I only smell it after the clothes are in his hamper though (or even worse- when they are in the dryer-yuck). It's disgusting. I had a talk with him, and tried to make it very matter of fact and non-threatening. He knows how to use our washer and dryer and I told him that if he has an accident, he needs to immediately wash his clothes. I also told him that I expect him to realize when he feels the urge to go to the bathroom, and to make sure he is only using the toilet when he has to go. He said "ok" but it has continued. This started only about a week ago. Then I noticed yesterday that there were "streak marks" in his underwear (#2).
He gets very frustrated with me when I try to talk to him about personal hygeine related issues. I am soooo tired of repeating myself though, and I am just wondering if it will ever pay off.
We have problems getting him to take showers, brush his teeth and ESPECIALLY getting him to wear deodorant. I've bought him the name brand, "smell-good" body wash, shampoo and deodorant that he wanted, hoping it would encourage him to want to shower, but it hasn't worked. He sometimes turns the shower on and never even gets in it.
My fiance has talked with him, and so have I. He'll use the "oh, I forgot" line about deodorant, and I frequently pick him up from school and realize he obviously isn't wearing any. I don't want him to be made fun of by other kids, but his body odor really can be quite offensive and I can't get him to realize it.
I already nag him in the morning- "Did you turn your bedroom lights off? Do you have your homework? Did you brush your teeth?" and that usually adds 15 minutes to our morning routine because he says he did things when he actually didn't, and he doesn't do any of those things without me telling him to.
Do you have any advice? I guess I am having a hard time finding a balance between nagging 24 hours a day (and trust me, it wouldn't be hard) and being someone he can talk to. I'm not trying to be his "friend", but I also don't want him to be afraid of me. He has such a tragic past and so much to deal with emotionally, that I worry I will overwhelm him with all these "rules"... but I also worry he will go into adulthood not knowing how to keep himself clean.
This peeing in his pants thing is absolutely disgusting to me. I had a dryer full of clothes and for some reason, he put his clothes in the dryer with mine and they REEK of urine now. I'm ready to just toss all the clothes, that's how awful it smells..
we've just had experience with our 17 fs not showering without being reminded, not brushing teeth...we just took his tv until he could remember to do it on his own. he valued that the most, so that's what he lost. he also lied so we would have to check his toothbrush for wetness, make sure he took his toothbrush to the bathroom, his bathtowels were damp, etc.
i don't know what to tell you about the peeing, though
We've learned that adding one cup of white vinegar to the washing machine, along with the regular detergent, will remove the urine smell completely. This has been a lifesaver for us :)
On a longer term note - one of our boys is diagnosed with encopresis - there are times when he soils his pants. He used to do it to make his foster parents angry. I know it's not the same, but thought this might help you anyway - we have talked with him about it,and basically let him know that it sure didn't make me angry, but it DID create a lot of work for him. It was HIS choice. Then we reinforced it. When we could smell a problem, we didn't comment too much - just 'You need to take a shower and wash out your underwear, honey.' We'd smell his hair and check his undies when he got out of the shower, and then he'd wash his clothes in the washer. We've really been able to downplay the problem and make it HIS problem, not mine. Honestly, there is very seldom a problem at this point.
Oh - the first time or two that we made him shower, he didn't pass the 'smell test' and I just told him "Oh, bummer, you didn't do a very good job getting your hair clean. Do you want me to come help you?" ... the very thought of me helping him wash his hair has convinced him to do it himself, and do it thoroughly.
Don't know if this will work for you or not, but good luck!
My son has the diagnosis of neurogenic bladder, so it's a medical problem & not a emotional problem. You could PM me if you want medical info.
You can't control his bladder etc. but you can control him (to an extent) cleaning it up himself. And regardless of whether it is medical or emotional, HE needs to be the one cleaning up after himself. It is a life skill and if this problem persists into adulthood he still has to have learned how to deal with it and clean up to be accepted by society.
I agree with LotzaLuv2Give. You can get permission from DCFS and doctor that son needs help with daily hygiene and that would give you permission to help wash hair etc. Without it, I don't think I would threaten to help him bathe etc at that age. It would be inappropriate.... but if his caseplan states that he NEEDS the help with these things, it gives you some leverage to state to him that if he cannot clean himself alone that you will have to step in and help.
It is probably going to take some rewards to get him to shower well, use deodorant, and clean his clothing after an accident properly. For most kids, just fitting in with their peers is rewarding enough to do it but for kiddos like some of our foster kids this is not a good enough reward and you will need to find something that he IS willing to work for.
Make sure you praise him aytime that he DOES smell good (or at least doesn't reek).
Good luck. I noticed you are hoping to adopt J so this may be a long, road ahead with lots of bumps but I am wishing you the best.
With our foster daughter it was really a control issue...she was checked out for any medical problems that could be a reason for the uncontrolled urine. So, after talking with the therapist we came up with a plan. I got really tired of putting my hand in the dirty clothes and touching wet things. She would urinate even in school. I bought a package of XL pull ups and told her the next time I found wet undees I would be replacing all of her undees with pull ups. (Of course the SW and therapist were aware). Well I did...of course I waited to right before we were going to visit the therapist. The therapist and I talked before hand and then she met with the foster child. Our foster daughter came up with a pull ups for now, but if she wet again she would wear the pull ups. Guess more wet undees. The therapist explained it that she felt she had no control over her life (she really did not) so she had control over when she went to the bathroom. What she needed to realize is that it was not an accepted behavior. Since this happened when she had just moved in, I worked on making sure she knew she had choices about certain things.
Good Luck,
I don't know about the peeing specifically, but I think there is good advice in some posts above. As for more general hygiene - yes, I've been down that road! To the point that one time when I told my FS to take a shower before school he has such a meltdown that he was screaming and raging at me and slapping the wall in the stairwell with is open hand to emphasize his points - and went right through the drywall. So then he had showering, AND a gaping hole in my wall to contend with! On other occasions he'd get IN the shower, but not WASH anything - he'd get out still smelly, still greasy and soaking wet and put on his clothes he'd been wearing for days on end. And this was a 14 year old! Anyway, after coaxing, cajoling, and trying to convince him that it was in his own best interests not to reek and have greasy hair around his peers, I just flat out made it a rule. "In OUR house, everyone showers every day (properly), and puts on fresh clothes and deodorant, or you just don't have any privileges. No going anywhere after school, no TV, etc". Naturally, he raged again at that announcement, along with a big lecture on how I don't accept him the way he is and all that other guilt-inducing stuff. Bottom line? He started showering the very next day and I never again had to remind him! And after a few weeks of being CLEAN, HE is now the one totally offended by other kids with poor hygiene, LOL (doesn't hurt that he got a girfriend not long after, and she commented on how nice he always smelled! :-)
Could you try to make it "mandatory" that when he comes home from school, he immediately showers, puts on clean clothing, uses deoderant (hopefully it will carry over to the next day) and then do homework before he is allowe do to fun stuff like play outside, watch tv, video games?
If you did it right after school before he had time to have fun then it might motivate him (rather than trying to do it in the morning when everyone is frazzled getting out of the house). You could just make it very matter of fact and not a fight. You do X, Y,Z for hygiene and you get to watch 30 minutes of TV or video games or whatever it is he likes. Don't nag, don't fight just simply let him choose to do it and get what he wants to do or not do it and go sit alone somewhere until he does it.
I like the pull-ups idea too esp since it wasn't done as punishment but as a simple plan to address a problem.
I think a mix of negative and positive sanctions might be helpful. I agree with making hard and fast rule about showering every day---well and with soap!---and using deodorant. Withdrawing privileges should be for not following the direction, not just for being smelly.
But how about thinking of some positive reinforcement for when he does do it? Some "manly" cologne, many compliments, perhaps snapping a photo of him on a day he looks particularly handsome (and clean)?
Instead of nagging him in the morning, which I did for ages... I made my son a checklist. There are 10 items on it for the morning. If he hit all 10, he earned a privillege (in our case it was 10 minutes of extra TV time, with another 10 potentially earned if he completed the checklist and also made it to the school bus stop on time)
Some of our items include:
Make Bed
Turn off lights
Brush and floss teeth
Put on deodorant
wash face
Put on clean clothes
Feed rabbit
I check them off when he shows me they are complete.
I went to a training last week that really emphasized giving children age appropriate choices and how well they worked in getting things accomplished as well as making a child feel like the actually have some control over their life as well as teaching them to take responsibility for themselves and to realized that in life there are choices and there are consequences, the choice they make will determine the outcome. I truly believe this works and noticed quite a few people touch on it through previous posts on this thread.
Some of the examples are things like "If you CHOOSE to fight in the car, you CHOOSE to give up TV time for the rest of the day", "If you CHOOSE to leave your Pajama's on the bathroom floor, you are CHOOSING not to watch TV today (or whatever else they love to do)", "If you CHOOSE not to eat dinner, then your CHOOSING not to eat desert",....."If you CHOOSE not to shower properly at the designated time, you are CHOOSING not to (insert whatever thing he really enjoys doing here).
Many children who have a history of sexual abuse also pee in their pants and have poor hygiene. It keeps people at a distance. If this is the case, until he learns to trust, it will continue. I tell my daughter that she is lucky that I am able to love a stnky child.
I was going to suggest what AmyAnne suggested. What about a list? My friend has 2 girls with some problems and she has made posters with pictures(they are too young to read still) and it seems to work. It starts out with a morning ritual, get up, make your bed, cllothes in hamper, ect. These children for some reason seem to strive better with structure and once they get into a routine you might find yourself not having to nag or remind as much.
I can really sympathize with the urine in the dryer OMG I thought I was going to die of axfixiation<sp> when my Momma threw her urine soaked pants into the dryer at home when she first was dx with alzhimers. Is he doing this as a way to hide wet pants or the fact that he had a pee accident? In other words is he just skipping the wash process and adding urine wet pants to clean clothes already in the dryer? What about giving him his own small hamper for urine wet clothes, sort of like a diaper pail? Then he can just wash them himself or his own hamper period with a certain time and day that he MUST do his own laundry with oxyclean. Many detergents have oder eliminaters, I got some Purex with Renuzit to kill oders. My Dad smokes cigars and I was having to was clothes 2 and 3 times over to kill the smell.