Q. My son, age 13, cannot remember to take care of his personal hygiene. If we didn't remind him, he would never brush his teeth. He forgets to put on deodorant. Every time he leaves the bathroom, we have to make him go back to wash his hands. We feel like we are constantly nagging him. How do we change this behavior?
A. "If you're nagging, and you hear yourself nagging, it's not working," says Anastasia Gavalas of Bridgehampton, author of the self-published "Wing It: 6 Simple Steps to Succeed as a Modern Day Parent." She's a mom of five, ages 8 to 16.
Consider giving this a shot: Let him suffer the natural consequences, she says. "Let go of the immediate control," Gavalas suggests. You've already spoken to him repeatedly. He's 13. He isn't forgetting -- he's making a choice.
"Very often life has an interesting way of giving us organic, natural responses," Gavalas says. In the case of personal hygiene, the consequences don't pose an imminent danger, so letting him experience them may change his behavior, she says. "If a 13-year-old boy smells, chances are there's going to be another kid in school who is going to say something." If his breath is revolting, they'll walk away or tease him, she says.
Some consequences can be imposed by you. For instance, tell him he can choose not to wash his hands after using the bathroom, but he won't be allowed to touch anything in the kitchen until he washes up.