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Hygiene Help


​​​I need help with my 13-year-old son. He was diagnosed with ADHD, but his behavior is more than just ADHD. I can't get him to do basic hygiene like putting on deodorant, changing his clothes, or showering. It's a fight every day. I feel like a failure. I can't hold his hand every minute of the day. Both me and my husband work fulltime (sometimes even more than that for me), and we have another 8-year-old child. I was thinking of therapy but don't know what kind can help with him. I'm afraid that when he turns 18 or 19 years old, he won’t know how to take care of himself. We tell him the same thing every day: clean your ro​om, put on deodorant, take the dogs out (his chore), etc., but he doesn’t do them. I'm losing hope. I need help in getting him the right tools to function.



We are glad you reached out for help. That is a brave and smart thing to do. You mentioned you think there is something more than ADHD that is influencing his behavior. A good place to start is with a current mental health evaluation from a mental health professional. This will give you insight into the type of therapy that could be effective, as well as medication if needed. If you have health insurance, see if there are mental health benefits and who is included in the preferred providers. 

It sounds like much of your parenting energies are being absorbed by your son. Sometimes, that can create stress with the other children, so that is another good reason to be reaching out. 

At this point, it is important to understand he is not likely going to change on his own, or with the parenting strategies you have used to this point. That is not a judgement; it sounds like you have been very proactive with your parenting. Yet, what he is presenting to you is extremely challenging and if you continue to do the same things the same way, things will remain the same. So, in addition to a mental health evaluation, you and your husband should discuss a new approach that can benefit your son and reduce your parenting stress. This new approach is something you both must agree on and commit to. The plan will be dynamic, and you will need to continue communicating concerns and adjustments with each other. It is very important that you and your husband are unified in the parenting presented to your son.

So, how do you develop a new parenting approach? Parenting classes are excellent; however, they are on hold due to the pandemic. There are many good books on the subject of parenting, including “Common Sense Parenting" which is based on the model of care Boys Town uses with kids like your son. The Boys Town website,, offers guidelines, tips, articles, and information about how to establish a new approach. On the home page of the website, you will see a link, “Boys Town's Parenting Principles" and another on “Parenting Guides," where you can find good information.  

The Nebraska Family Helpline is another resource for parents. They can help, support, and provide referrals that can be helpful during this time of adjustment. You can call 1-888-866-8660 for help and support.

Take a deep breath and know this is the time for a new approach for your son and for you and your husband. There will be better times ahead.

Stay brave and keep reaching out when you need to.