Discussing Body Odor with Tweens and Choosing the Right Deodorant
One of the most challenging aspects for parents to deal with as their child transitions into a teen is the body developments that seem to occur overnight, especially body odor. The tween years are an ideal time to speak with your child about sweat and odors as well as introducing and getting them in the habit of wearing deodorant. But some of the most common ingredients found in deodorant and antiperspirant such as aluminum, parabens (a preservative) or synthetic ingredients including fragrance oils are known toxins and can be harmful to your tween’s body. Below are some tips from Kathryn Holdforth for approaching this sensitive subject with your children and deciding on the right deodorant for them to use.
Talking to Your Tween about Body Odor:
- Be proactive and respectful. This is a discussion your tween or teen needs to have with someone who has their best interest at heart. How you talk to your child about body odor will depend a lot on your relationship with your child. If your child is used to you being direct, simply telling them they need a shower and to use deodorant can do the trick. However, if your child is more sensitive or easily embarrassed, choose your words carefully. Parents can act subtly by leaving a deodorant on their bathroom counter or by opening up the conversation during a shopping trip while picking up deodorant for themselves. How you approach the subject will depend on your child and his/her personality.
- Explain the changes and reassure them it is normal. It is important that parents take the time to explain to their children about the different changes that are and will be taking place with their body. There are plenty of helpful books and websites that can help assist parents with this difficult and sometimes uncomfortable talk; one of my favorites is Teen World Confidential. Throw in a personal experience in the discussion so that your child knows this is a common situation that everyone will have to go through at some age. For more information on the how bodies change and what causes that lead to body odor, check out this blog post.
- Tips, tricks and tools. Explain how taking baths or showers every day can help keep bacteria off their body, which will help reduce body odor. Sometimes just knowing there is a purpose to washing can help encourage them to not cut corners in the shower. Introduce clean personal care products, like deodorant that eliminates body odor when used regularly. Or better yet, allow them to choose one for themselves following the guidelines below.
What to look for when choosing a deodorant:
- Check the label. Ignore what it says on the front of the label, this is all marketing to get you to buy it. Instead, read the ingredient deck on the back of the label, that’s where the truth lies.
- Look for clean ingredients. Products that contain organic and 100% natural ingredients are ideal. Avoid products that contain synthetic chemicals, colorants and fragrances. These ingredients can get into your bloodstream and a large number of them are considered ‘hormone disruptors’.
- Buy deodorants rather than antiperspirants. Deodorants do not contain aluminum, which is a controversial ingredient that may have many negative effects on one’s health. Its job is to stop the body from sweating, a function that is necessary to eliminate toxins and cool the body down. Clean deodorants, on the other hand, simply stop odor-causing bacteria. There are no clean antiperspirants.
- Trial and error. Sometimes the first couple of deodorants your children try might not work out for them for various reasons such as the scent or allergic reactions. Remind them to keep an open mind and not get frustrated while searching for the right deodorant. Once you are able to find the one your child will use regularly, buy a small supply to keep on hand and for stashing in gym or sports bags.
- Beware of delicious-sounding aromas. Avoid scents like bubblegum, melon, tropical fruits like mango, papaya, etc. or any kind of berry such as plum, strawberry and blueberry. These are synthetic fragrances created in a lab and can contain up to 300 chemicals in one fragrance. Stick with products that use pure, steam-distilled essential oils if you like scented products. These fragrances are the pure essences found in the leaves, bark, and/or flowers of botanical plants and the peels of citrus fruits like lemons, limes, oranges, etc. Not only do they smell great, they can offer many beneficial properties that can improve one’s health and mood.
Kathryn Holdforth, mother of two and founder of JK Naturals, provides tips for handling these delicate situations.