One of the more sensitive issues that school counselors may face is dealing with a student with poor hygiene. This is not an issue that you can easily ignore, especially if it is giving rise to ridicule and rejection from peers. If the child does not learn good hygiene by the time he leaves elementary school, he is likely in for a rough time in middle school. Poor hygiene can take various forms, such as having disheveled hair, wearing dirty clothes and having body odor. Because of the potentially significant impact, you cannot sidestep hygiene issues with your students. Rather you must deal with them with honesty and directness, but also with sensitivity and concern for the student’s emotional well-being. (Assisting a Child with Poor Hygiene, Dr. Kenneth Shore)
- Make hygiene a regular part of the health curriculum.
- Talk with the student privately.
- Monitor the student’s hygiene.
- Have some hygiene items handy.
- Work out a private signal to cue a student who is picking his nose.
- How to Deal with Student Hygiene Issues
- Assisting a Child with Poor Hygiene
- The Poverty Effect: Schools must deal with student personal hygiene issues
- Teen Hygiene Issues – Tips for School Counselors
- BrainPop Video
- Easy to Teach Hygiene Activities for Kids
- Q: I have a male 6th grade student who constantly smells bad. We are talking about the kind of stink that stays in a room well after he leaves. It’s not quite body odor, more of a general filthy smell mixed with cat pee (yes, i know that meth can cause that but I don’t believe this to be the case). His step sister lives in the same house 7 days a week and does not smell. They DO have an indoor cat who apparently has no litter box (not sure what they were thinking with that). The student keeps his clothes in a box in the living room (which probably looks pretty inviting to the cat).
- A: Responses from Counselor Talk (January 2020)
- Years ago when I taught 5th graders as a computer teacher, the nurse asked if I could find some computer games/lessons that dealt with hygiene. These are what I used. I don’t know if they still work. The kids loved them and it was a sort of gentle way of addressing the issues. This one from Discovery kids was the best but I think you either need a subscription or download. It is awesome. “Gross & Cool Body”: Information about burps, ear wax, dandruff, sweat, gas, and other bodily functions and sounds. “Yucky, Gross-out Quiz”: Interactive quiz format teaches kids about the human body parts and functions: http://yucky.kids.discovery.
com. Bad Breath (for Kids) – KidsHealth. Germs Can Make You Sick – Science NetLinks.
- Question: Do any elementary schools permit students to shower at school when they do not have water at home or are just not showering at home for whatever reason? If so, what are our policies around this?
- Response: We do this at our Intermediate School. We always get parent permission first. Then there are those that are regulars so we have already set that up with parents. We have never had a parent say no. We just put the student with supplies in the shower and have them lock the door and we sit outside in the area until they are done.
- Response: We allowed it in times of need or emergencies. We also put in place safeguards and privacy plans. Although we don’t supply soap, towels etc., we kept a community basket of unused (shampoos, shower gels and lotions) from hotels that our staff would bring in.
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