Author Topic: Your daughter smells  (Read 12336 times)

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Outdoor Girl

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Re: Your daughter smells
« Reply #30 on: February 17, 2014, 07:38:18 PM »
I agree that CPS is over the top but letting someone at the school know who could address it with the parents would be a good idea.  School nurse, psychologist if there is one or her teacher.  Those people will carry a lot more weight with the parents than another parent would and, I would hope, would have some training on how to address it tactfully.
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Peregrine

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Re: Your daughter smells
« Reply #31 on: February 17, 2014, 07:50:33 PM »
The kid could be like a former friend's child who adamantly refused to bathe. I mean, it got reaaaally bad. Disgustingly bad. But, my FF was not one to put herself out to make her child do what she should. So if the kid refused, her response was "Oh, well, what can I do?"

My response, which may or may not be approved, would have been to take the kid kicking and screaming to the bathroom to clean her up if she did not want to do it herself.

Maybe it's good that I'm not a parent...


Have you ever struggled with a kicking and screaming child? The child has a big advantage. You don't want to hurt them but they have no qualms about hurting you or being hurt. It used to take 5 adults and a lot of force to get my son to take liquid medicine. If the doctor hadn't ordered it, I would have given up on the first day for fear of a child abuse allegation.

If the child was otherwise healthy and happy, I would think "there but for the grace of deity go I" and mind my own business.

This is very much true!  I have a 3 year old son, who seems to be quite strong and extremely coordinated for his age.  I sincerely doubt even at this young age that either my husband or I could force him to bathe or shower without either hurting him or getting hurt myself.   Thankfully, the child loves to bathe  ;D  so I don't have that problem.  I honestly don't know what I would do if he decides not to bathe.

For the OP, this is a case where I think your best bet is to consult with the classroom teacher or an administrator.  They will undoubtedly either know more about the situation or know the most appropriate way to refer the family for help or contact the appropriate authorities.  In my own personal opinion, the odor issues would be my cause for concern.  The hair not being tidy or appearing to be greasy, would be an issue that wouldn't really concern me unless I could determine that it was the source of the odor or was otherwise harboring something like head lice which could be contagious to other children.

shortstuff

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Re: Your daughter smells
« Reply #32 on: February 17, 2014, 07:59:07 PM »
I'd be really surprised if the school hasn't already at least taken notice.  All of my old dress codes included a section stating the basic understanding that students shall keep up with their personal hygiene.  Although maybe this case is a matter of enforcement.  If it's hard enough for a parent to force a kid to shower, how on earth would a school push the matter?

VorFemme

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Re: Your daughter smells
« Reply #33 on: February 17, 2014, 08:06:47 PM »
VorGuy is a teacher, teenagers.  His classes involve marching and some wearing of prescribed clothing.  As part of being issued the clothing, the students are reminded that it has to be turned in CLEAN at the end of the school year.

The end of May one year recently, he brought home a shirt that...reeked and was stiff with brownish gunk on the inside.  Body soil had been ground into it during weekly wearings for an entire school year....it had apparently not been washed before being turned in. 

I pretreated it several different ways, soaked it, washed it, and let it air dry (dryer heat bakes soil & stains into the fibers) before trying again....six washings later, we cut the buttons off to use as replacements and trashed the shirt.

No one had ever noticed or mentioned if the student was having body odor issues or nasty hair in class...but...the inside of that shirt spoke volumes. 

Whether it was a cultural issue, a family income issue, they just didn't feel like washing, or a medical issue (heavy sweat, oily skin, or ???)...it was not obvious enough to notice until they were sorting the already turned in clothes at the end of the year.  The students get more than one shirt - there was only the one shirt that was stiff with body oil and body soil. 

+++I do not get told who had a shirt that they are trying to get ink, soil, or other stains out of - just asked if I can clean this so it can be re-issued the next year (new shirts cost money - there have been budget cuts every year since VorGuy took this job - they are trying to keep the expenses for new equipment and shirts minimal).
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MommyPenguin

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Re: Your daughter smells
« Reply #34 on: February 17, 2014, 09:06:14 PM »
I agree that CPS would be over the top.  It's an unwashed child.  I'd hesitate to notify teachers or guidance personnel too quickly, too, as they might feel compelled to report it to CPS (sometimes the "mandatory reporter" laws are hard to understand).  I'd at least try again to talk to the father again more directly.  "Your daughter seems to be coming to the <activity> with a distinct smell and looks as if she hasn't bathed for quite some time.  Is there a problem?"  At least, if you feel compelled to report it, be direct with the father first and press for an answer.  Otherwise, I'd leave it alone, wait a few months, see whether there's improvement.  People have, in many times in history, washed far less than we do, so I think it unlikely that she will be permanently damaged by it.

Psychopoesie

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Re: Your daughter smells
« Reply #35 on: February 17, 2014, 10:38:45 PM »
Not sure I see this as an etiquette question so much but here goes.

There are lots of reasons why the kid may smell that bad which don't involve neglect, as PPs have noted. Still, poor hygeine is also *one* of the indicators that a child may be neglected.

I know some people have said that if the parents and other kids look fine, that's a good reason to assume it's not a neglect situation. All very true. There are exceptions though - like a friend's grandchild, the youngest in her family, who seemed to be a scapegoat for all that family's negative feelings about the absent and highly toxic father. She wasn't bathed, her clothes weren't changed for days on end - according to my friend anyway. The older kids were fine. Her extended family intervened... eventually. The issue of basic care was resolved.

That's why I'd agree with PPs who suggest alerting the teacher, school nurse or student counsellor (if there is one). It's good to have others looking out for a kid, just in case. No reason you can't also mention it to the father again although that hasn't seemed to be that effective so far (if I'm understanding correctly).

Did find a handy site (from the UK but maybe there's something like this for US - google search shows heaps of results) that provides some general advice about neglect might be useful for the OP.

http://www.nspcc.org.uk/help-and-advice/worried-about-a-child/online-advice/neglect/neglect-a_wda87020.html

And just found a US one:

https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/whatiscan.pdf#page=5&view=Recognizing%20Signs%20of%20Abuse%20and%20Neglect



JoieGirl7

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Re: Your daughter smells
« Reply #36 on: February 18, 2014, 05:25:21 AM »
I also think the sitution should be mentioned to the school teacher or counselor.

It doesn't matter whether its a phase or not.  It is not ok to not be clean when socializing with other people.  It can be very unhealthy for all involved.

Someone already told the father and he did not respond, just brushed it off.  That is neglectful and honestly a bit rude because he is thinking that its just fine to subject people to his unwashed daughter.

Runningstar

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Re: Your daughter smells
« Reply #37 on: February 18, 2014, 06:26:34 AM »
It could be that her family only bathes little kids once a week and she is still considered little to them.  I know a few adults that unfortunately only wash their hair weekly, which was what previous generations in their family had done.  My DM is one of them.  She bathes daily, washes her hair weekly.  I've finally just given over to highly praising her when her hair is clean, and ask her to wash it before coming to an event with me.  There is a girl in my DD's class, in middle school, who is doing the weekly hair washing (maybe bathing weekly also).  On Mondays she is clean, by Friday she reeks.  I am going to try telling the school nurse, that might be best for you?   

perpetua

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Re: Your daughter smells
« Reply #38 on: February 18, 2014, 07:21:18 AM »
It could be that her family only bathes little kids once a week and she is still considered little to them.  I know a few adults that unfortunately only wash their hair weekly, which was what previous generations in their family had done.  My DM is one of them.  She bathes daily, washes her hair weekly.  I've finally just given over to highly praising her when her hair is clean, and ask her to wash it before coming to an event with me. 

My mum was like that. She came from the era where you had a perm and then had a 'shampoo and set' with the curlers and the setting lotion and the sitting under the big dryer once a week at the hairdresser's. So she had her hair 'done' once a week and didn't wash it in between because then the style would fall out. To the best of my recollection she didn't smell, although she did have a slight whiff of hairspray about her at all times :) So, this sort of passed on to me when I was a kid - I washed every day and bathed whenever I needed it but Sunday night was always 'bath and hairwash night'. (Of course, this was the 70s, and we didn't have a shower, so it wasn't as simple as jumping in the shower every morning/night).

There are so many explanations for the girl in the OP and neglect isn't one that automatically springs to mind. Not a fan of internet diagnosing, but a dear friend of mine had a child with aspergers and OCD and getting him in the shower was a nightmare. He especially had a thing about hairwashing, because the unfamiliar smells freaked him out. There are all kinds of reasons for this sort of thing.


Coley

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Re: Your daughter smells
« Reply #39 on: February 18, 2014, 07:41:27 AM »
It could be that her family only bathes little kids once a week and she is still considered little to them.  I know a few adults that unfortunately only wash their hair weekly, which was what previous generations in their family had done.  My DM is one of them.  She bathes daily, washes her hair weekly.  I've finally just given over to highly praising her when her hair is clean, and ask her to wash it before coming to an event with me.  There is a girl in my DD's class, in middle school, who is doing the weekly hair washing (maybe bathing weekly also).  On Mondays she is clean, by Friday she reeks.  I am going to try telling the school nurse, that might be best for you?

POD. I had the same thought that perhaps the family perceives the girl to be too young to need daily baths. I do not recall having a daily bath until I was somewhat older -- probably age 9 or 10. My mother washed my hair in the kitchen sink on a weekly basis (Saturday afternoons) until I was 12. My hair was washed and put in curlers for Sunday church. My hair was long, and it would get badly tangled as the week went on -- probably from a combination of activity, dirt, and oily build-up.

Neither of my parents washed their hair daily, but I believe they both bathed daily.

As I think back on it now, there are a number of hygiene-related issues that my parents didn't teach me about. I learned about them from TV shows and commercials. Neither of my parents used deodorant. They believed that if they bathed daily, it wasn't necessary to use deodorant. When I started 7th grade, the school expected us to bring deodorant to use after gym class. My mother bought me some because I had to have it for school. That was the first time I'd seen a can of antiperspirant. When I was 13, a girl teased me for having B.O. After that, I insisted on having deodorant for myself at home. My mother didn't deny me that, but she didn't buy any for herself.

There were times when my mother had horrible body odor. I don't remember it when I was a younger child, but by the time I was in junior high and high school, there was no doubt of it. She often wanted to borrow my sweaters, and I would dread it when she did because her B.O. transferred to my clothing. The sweaters couldn't be washed in the machine, and she didn't want to take clothes to be dry-cleaned frequently, so sometimes I had no choice but to wear those smelly sweaters to school.

I don't think anyone would have said I was "neglected" as a child, but I do think there's a possibility that others may have found it odd that my parents didn't do a better job with hygiene. No adult ever said anything to me about it, and to my knowledge, no adult ever intervened with my parents. My mother would have been mortified if they had.

kategillian

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Re: Your daughter smells
« Reply #40 on: February 18, 2014, 07:44:51 AM »
We had an issue like this when Santa came to our town. One of the 2 year olds clearly needed a diaper change, and I mean CLEARLY. Some of the other volunteers wanted to ask them to leave, but we decided that would be cruel. The mother had some mental health issues, and there was no father to be seen. In the end we didn't do anything, I can't imagine a more uncomfortable conversation than telling someone that their child smells.

Teenyweeny

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Re: Your daughter smells
« Reply #41 on: February 18, 2014, 08:05:25 AM »
I have relatives who are teachers, and they all say the same thing: the classrooms with the 9-11 year olds always reek, because there will always be at least one kid who has now got to the age where they really need to use deodorant and shower/change more frequently, but doesn't. The parents either can't enforce it, or don't realise that kiddo isn't so much of a kiddo any more.

I realise that the girl in the OP was a little younger, but the onset of puberty is generally the most common cause of this problem.

The best thing to do is for a teacher or other authority figure to mention it discreetly. So, as a parent, I'd bring it to their attention.

"Ms. Smith, I hate to interfere, but I just want to let you know that I've noticed that Susie is awfully dirty today, and has been for the past several weeks. I know it's not my place to speak to her parents, but I wanted to be sure that somebody in authority had noticed."

Then, as a parent, I'd leave it be.

Then the teacher could have a word with the parent(s).

"Bob, may I have a word with you? I couldn't help but notice that Susie isn't smelling or looking too fresh today. I wouldn't say something if it was just today, but I've been noticing this for a couple of weeks. Are there issues that I/we should be aware of? I'm sure Susie would feel better for a wash and some fresh clothes. The other children are starting to notice, and I'd hate for this to become a problem for Susie."

Of course, if the parents then do nothing, (and I definitely include working with appropriate professionals as 'doing something', if the dirtiness is a result of an extreme aversion to washing), then it's neglect, and I would call the appropriate services if I were the teacher.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2014, 08:09:26 AM by Teenyweeny »



ladyknight1

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Re: Your daughter smells
« Reply #42 on: February 18, 2014, 08:36:13 AM »
Our 4th and 5th grade teachers have a "health" day where puberty changes and personal hygiene is discussed at length. A sheet is sent home with each child detailing what the standards of personal hygiene are: simply bathing daily, washing hair every day or every other day, using deodorant and wearing clean clothing daily.

It has made a big difference in the body odor problems in class.

Oh Joy

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Re: Your daughter smells
« Reply #43 on: February 18, 2014, 09:18:00 AM »
I appreciate the good intentions, but telling a teacher about a child's hygiene seems illogical and sounds like a busybody.  The reporter sees the child once a week, but the teacher already sees the child five days a week.  What could possibly be accomplished?

Jones

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Re: Your daughter smells
« Reply #44 on: February 18, 2014, 09:25:23 AM »
I appreciate the good intentions, but telling a teacher about a child's hygiene seems illogical and sounds like a busybody.  The reporter sees the child once a week, but the teacher already sees the child five days a week.  What could possibly be accomplished?
Agreed.