Emerson School in Portland, OR is a Positive Discipline demonstration school—meaning it has completed training and other requirements listed under “Demonstrations Schools” at www.positivediscipline.org Recently Emerson School received national news coverage:
Teaching Parenting the Positive Discipline Way with Lynn Lott and Jane Nelsen
We have a few spaces left in the two-day workshop in Sacramento, CA February 7-8. It is now rare for Lynn and I to facilitate this workshop together. The occasion is that we will be video taping the whole workshop so participants will be signing a release form. For more information go to www.pdsuccess.com/jane
The Positive Discipline Associate sponsors many two-day workshops on Teaching Parenting the Positive Discipline Way and Positive Discipline in the Classroom facilitated by Certified Positive Discipline Associates. Dates and locations can be found at www.positivediscipline.org
Q and As
What I can I do about my "almost 13" year old daughter who doesn't shower or wash her clothes often enough? She is interested in making sure her hair looks nice, wearing a little eye make up and wearing clothes that she likes. So she's very conscious about her appearance. But she often has body odor that is strong enough to smell when I'm 5 feet away. She showers approximately three times a week.
I've mentioned that I can smell her. I've told her that I think it's sometimes her clothes that smell because she is wearing them several times without washing them. (because a few times I've smelled the odor soon after she has showered.) She does her own laundry and has enough clothes to not wear the same ones again and again.
She acts embarrassed anytime I bring up the subject of her smell and has asked me not to mention it to her again. I have gone over a month without mentioning it several times. I don't feel like I'm nagging her about this, but I'm getting impatient having to smell her so often.
I spend special time with her once or twice a week, but a few times it has been difficult to endure the smell of body odor the entire time.
Dear Annoyed Mom,
There is much more going on here than meets the nose. Your daughter is going through an individuation spurt. In plain English this means she is subconsciously testing her relationship with you to find out who she is separate from you. This means that smelly bad is a small price to pay for the sense that she can use her personal power instead of bowing to yours.
Does it help to know that this won’t last forever? I predict that in a year or two you’ll be complaining about how much water she uses in her long showers.
Meanwhile, what to do? I suggest you “decide what you will do, rather that what you are trying to make your daughter do.” This might look like leaving the room when you can’t take the smell. It is important to let her know in advance what you are going to do—and then follow through
KINDLY and firmly.
“Honey, I have faith it you to solve the problem of your body order when it is important to you. Meanwhile, I’ll solve my own problem of dealing with the smell by leaving the room when I have problems with the odor. I want you to know that I’m not leaving you, just the odor. I won’t make fun of you or criticize you. I’ll just take care of myself.” Then when you do leave, do not make a big deal of it. Leaving quietly will have a greater impact than showing any kind of judgment.
Do have faith in your daughter. You have given her a good model of cleanliness. Let her do her testing in an atmosphere of unconditional love. Eventually she’ll get the message from a peer—and watch how quickly she will change.
Hold your breath and give her lots of hugs,