How should I go about talking to my cousins about hygiene and the birds and the bees?

How should I go about talking to my cousins about hygiene and the birds and the bees?

Rhazya Rhazya
My family took in two cousins, one is almost 11, the other is 10. Their mother is a real piece of work, and their father hasn't addressed these topics with them either. These children have been neglected in several ways for a long time. (short version there)

The older one has her period, and all her mother did was toss her like 5 pads, and told her that'd be enough for several months, never gave her any instructions. So when she got here she'd be wearing a pad for 24+ hours.

She's also already been taking inappropriate pictures/videos of herself before she was even here.. and had sent them out. That's already being taken care of, both phone/laptop are in custody of the police. With all the neglect and emotional abuse put on them, she's prime bait for some pedo.. it hasn't went any further. She does understand that what she did was wrong.. but none of my family shamed her for it. I'd say that's been handled properly. However she's still too interested in sex too early in my opinion.

The other one isn't as much, but that day is coming soon I believe.

Their hygiene is extremely poor, don't wear deodorant unless forced, don't shower often enough, smelling foul odors off both of them.

My dad is really open, but he realizes they may not feel comfortable with them as he is a man.

My mother, while a physician's assistant is married to her work, and she doesn't see them enough, and when my father and I have told her that it should be her that gives the hygiene and birds/bees talk, as she is the doctor and mother figure.. she just keeps slacking off on it.

So it's left to me. I'm 26, and I know about all about hygiene and sexual matters.. I'm just at a loss as to how best to best convey everything to them as needed. They really don't listen well to anyone, no matter the topic.

So, I'd just like thoughts as to suggestions as to how to go about it in the best way, or multiple ways. Perhaps you have your own kids or taught your siblings? I know they need to know everything hygiene of course.. but unsure as to how in-depth/how far I should be explaining puberty and basic sexual things.

Your thoughts are much appreciated, thank you!
Answers (private voting - your screen name will NOT appear in the results):
Give them both x book(s) to read.
6
Forcibly get your mother to do it, as you shouldn't have to.
3
Just take them aside one at a time and verbally explain as necessary.
20
Explain everything to them at the same time.
2
Take them to appropriate doctors to explain.
4
Other, I'll post below.
4
Total votes: 39 (23 voters)
Poll is closed
05/02/2012
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chantalgiardina chantalgiardina
Quote:
Originally posted by Rhazya
My family took in two cousins, one is almost 11, the other is 10. Their mother is a real piece of work, and their father hasn't addressed these topics with them either. These children have been neglected in several ways for a long time. (short ...
im about to have to take that talk too
05/02/2012
Raigne Raigne
I am not sure about the how to handle the hygiene issue, but my mother got a video for me when I was that age. It came in a kit with some pads, some deoderant, and a couple other things. She watched it with me and addressed any questions I had, and then we talked about it after.

More importantly, because they are so young and the one seems to be interested in sex and sending pictures, I would be worried about some kind of sexual abuse going on at home.

A quick look on amazon got me this: link
And this: link

The first one has a DVD, the second one has a couple additional accessories and a short book. The first one looks like the more useful of the two. As far as hygiene, explaining to them won't be enough, if they're reluctant to use it. You may want to schedule a bath time for them to bathe each night and make sure they're putting on deodorant and brushing their teeth in the morning.

Last, if the school system in your area doesn't have adequate sex education, and they are already engaging in dangerous behavior, you'll want to go over STDs, contraception, and saying no. With that last part, I don't mean abstinence. I mean how to handle an unwanted advance. I found this, but I don't know how helpful it would be. link and this one, which can be rented through Amazon instant video link and somehow I missed this one... link, but the reviews are meh.

Good luck.
05/02/2012
PropertyOfPotter PropertyOfPotter
I think taking them aside one at a time is the best option. I would be very careful with the way you say your words, it's a subject that's difficult to tread, but someone needs to do this...and being that you're not a parent figure, I think it would be best coming from you. You are someone that they can look up to and admire. Be that great example!
05/02/2012
Badass Badass
Quote:
Originally posted by Raigne
I am not sure about the how to handle the hygiene issue, but my mother got a video for me when I was that age. It came in a kit with some pads, some deoderant, and a couple other things. She watched it with me and addressed any questions I had, and ...
I really agree with Raigne... for the girl, the video would be a helpful tool and takes the guess work out of explaining things to her.. I also thought that the sending of the pictures and interest in sex is a red flag. Generally when children do this, they are trying to cope with something sexual that has happened to them in the past..

I'm really sorry to hear of the tough luck these kids have had. Best of luck to you and your family.
05/02/2012
Khanner Khanner
For the issues you have with both of them like bathing and deodorant, I think you should talk to them at the same time so they don't think you're singling them out, but sex ed and puberty chat should be separate so they don't get too embarrassed.

I'm kind of at a loss as to what to suggest regarding sex ed because I didn't get any myself. I just read scarleteen and watched the discovery channel. Scarleteen is a pretty good resource, though. You could print some useful stuff off from there.

If it's possible, I think you should give the older cousin a separate stash of pads and explain that they only belong to her so she won't feel she's imposing by taking some of yours. That could encourage her to change more often. Because of the way they've been treated and their new living situation, I can see how they could have grown up trying to use minimal resources. Most of all, you should let them know that there is room for them both.
05/02/2012
Allison.Wilder Allison.Wilder
However you choose to do it, just make sure you're honest and straight-forward about it. Kids can easily get their signals mixed and confuse something. Just be open and it'll be hard, but you'll get through it.
05/02/2012
Ryuson Ryuson
I agree that talking to them separately is a good idea, I think that if the older one starts to bathe more and take better care of herself the younger one will follow.

Something important to me is to explain tampons! Pads are all well and good but I couldn't stand having ucky blood smeared all over my vulva all day and so for a few years I got stuck stealing tampons from friends and school. At least give her the option.

Something else that seems important is to explain WHY people have sex. It feels good, but it also can lead to the spread of STDs and pregnancy. It's something to only do when you feel ready, and that you should never do it when you don't want to. It also may be helpful to tell her about condoms and birth control.

While I normally don't think that kids need talks like that that early, since she seems to be very sexually mature for whatever reason it seems like it's a very important conversation.

Best of luck!
05/02/2012
Beck Beck
For the Hygiene issue I would just ask, "Do you get made fun at school because you smell?" And if they answer yes. Say, "Well, that can change with regular showers, deodorant, changing your pads regularly, and so on." I would do this separately especially if they are not the same sex.

Cover that changing the pad is very important to her vaginal health. Also you will want to mention tampons, since she might be handed one in school. If she leaves pads on for 24 hours she might think it's okay to use tampons that long as well. Which we all know is not a good idea.

If the younger one is female they should be explained that they will be going through a change soon before it happens. (Her period!) Because 10 is close to the age range. If the younger one is male he should be talked to about male changes with the body. In fact a trip to the Pediatrician for some basic information might be handy, or you can print out information from online about puberty. This would be handy for both of them.

The one with her period should be taken to a female clinic. There you can get all kinds information. She can have one on one time with a Dr instead of just with you. She needs the whole birds and the bees conversation because if she is sending out sexual images and she has sexual feelings she needs to be educated. While you feel she is far too young she feels like she is a women inside. She needs to be taught about STD's and pregnancy. She needs to know how to have sex safely. Just in case. However, once you've talked to the older one about it; it will only be a matter of time before the other one knows as well. They are roughly the same age. (It's like telling the older one that Santa isn't real. It's only a matter of time before the other knows.) They are both going to end up needing this conversation. Tell the older one to not tell the younger one until you can find the time to do it.

Planned Parenthood has very useful information about STD's and pregnancy. Kids Health covers puberty.

I wish you the best of luck. It sounds like you have your work cut out for you. Hopefully you can help them out.
05/02/2012
TransMarc TransMarc
My answer will seem a bit useless in comparison to those, but here we go:
You could take them both aside and ask about going to a doctor who could answer their questions better (or questions they don't feel comfortable asking you) after explaining.
You could also help them learn some self-defense, which would have been useful to me at their age and still now. Nothing too big which would seem too complicated to learn, just the more useful tricks: link like there.
Or there: link (not read it all, but seems like great common sense to be reminded)
Then, that their safety matters enough that they shouldn't be ashamed to do what they can to defend it.
Also, some people would feel ashamed taking their parents' pads too often. Either give her pads or give her a lil' bit of pocket money to buy some herself if you can. Talk about alternatives to pads. I just saw here: link that apparently I was pretty wrong to be scared of hurting myself with a tampon before!
Then the reason they doesn't use deodorant could be they're concerned with health, then I'd advice them using Soapwalla or alum. They could also have sensory issues with water or scents, so tell their parents to let them choose unscented products. The more obvious reason would be they don't know they smell, so they need to be reminded nicely that they need to wash regularly because their body chemistry changed/is changing. I was in all those cases during my own teenagehood, though, so it's possible that they are too. If they feel like they don't have the time, then they need to schedule showering and washing teeth. Now depending on their chemistry they might not smell if showering only every two days, and it might be easier "starting" that way than showering every day straight away.
Sorry that it's not a really helpful answer! It'll also help if they have great friends to support them.
I hope it'll get better for them. It's great that you're here to help
05/02/2012
HannahPanda HannahPanda
Just explain briefly, usually kids learn a lot on their own.
05/02/2012
Bex1331 Bex1331
I would talk to them separately, maybe start with asking what they know so you can start from there and correct what needs to be corrected. From there I would just have a small talk to open the lines of communication and just make sure they know that they can come to you with any questions they might have.
05/02/2012
Rhazya Rhazya
Just wanted to thank everyone so far. I still haven't came to a decision.

I would like to take the older one to a female doctor, but right now their medical insurance is still a nightmare, and my family can't afford it right now. From my experience Planned Parenthood is outrageous in pricing, but there's probably not one even in this town. *goes to check.*

Basically their parents let them fend for themselves, and have barely taught them anything at all, except how to be very manipulative, pushy, augmentative, they pretty much have next to no endearing habits or personality traits at this moment.

That being said, I would say with most certainty neither of them have been sexually abused, though I appreciate the concern shown here. I think the older one is just so desperate for love/affection that she is too curious about sex thinking the answer lies there. I can understand her thinking, I at one time thought the same sadly.
05/03/2012
sweetpea12 sweetpea12
Quote:
Originally posted by Rhazya
My family took in two cousins, one is almost 11, the other is 10. Their mother is a real piece of work, and their father hasn't addressed these topics with them either. These children have been neglected in several ways for a long time. (short ...
I would take them separately and give them an educated conversation but keep the dynamic open. Make it easy for them to ask questions, give them information about contraception and risks about sexual interactions. Be honest and give them information that you think will be valuable to them. Don't use scare tactics because sex isn't a bad thing but it needs to be treated with respect. Good luck, and I'm really happy that you are taking the initiative to help them with this
05/03/2012
P'Gell P'Gell
Quote:
Originally posted by Beck
For the Hygiene issue I would just ask, "Do you get made fun at school because you smell?" And if they answer yes. Say, "Well, that can change with regular showers, deodorant, changing your pads regularly, and so on." I would do ...
You have some really good ideas, Beck.

Young adolescents don't always realize how important hygiene it. They were recently children, someone else (should have) been taking care of their hygiene needs and it is a difficult transition to a child taking care of his or her own hygiene. My youngest has Asperger's Syndrome (it's complicated) and doesn't have a lot of self awareness, or at least doesn't have the ability to "read" other people, their body language, their facial expressions and those types of things very well. (Think Sheldon from Big Bang Theory in a 12 year old girl body.)

We had to be very concrete with her: "If you don't bathe daily, your hair is going to be dirty and greasy, your body may not smell nice and people may treat you badly due to these issues." It took some work, but after frequent reminder (I found texting her, even if she was in the house, and texting, "Please take your take shower. Now!" worked REALLY well with her. She's a technology nut, and this was our best tool.)

As for the sex stuff, I'm a bit worried about the whole, "The police took the computer and the phone." Is DCFS (or whatever agency your state has for Child Services) involved? If so, what role are they taking? I can't imagine, if the police took the computer that there would be no follow up, and Child Protective Services is the logical agency which would be taking care of some of the issues now.

What role does CPS have and have you spoken to them? They may not speak to you, due to privacy issues (extended family usually doesn't get CPS reports, unless a family member had custody) WHAT is being done to help from the State and protect these children ?

Make sure whatever you do isn't stepping on the toes of the Social Worker, or the other workers who should be involved in this case.
05/03/2012
SaraW0512 SaraW0512
I personally would just talk to them but the "breaker" could always be go to the doctor.
05/15/2012
A.A. A.A.
Quote:
Originally posted by Rhazya
My family took in two cousins, one is almost 11, the other is 10. Their mother is a real piece of work, and their father hasn't addressed these topics with them either. These children have been neglected in several ways for a long time. (short ...
The easiest way to do it is to take a trip to Target. Grab yourself some sanitary items for your own period and say "do you need any?" Even if they say no, be like "Lets just grab you some anyways.

Walk down the deodorant isle and say something like "wow this one smells so good! you should get it!"

Same with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash etc...

Make a night where you do facials, nails and braid their hair or something. put some lipgloss on them and say "wow you look and smell so pretty" and be sure to say "we should do this more often.

Once young girls see that they feel great when they are clean, they want to continue to be clean. It boosts their confidence and will boost their overall happiness as well.

When watching tv if something sexual or about pregnancy etc... comes up... "do you know about (x, y and ....)" just explain things and approach it like a friend and not like a parent. It will make it easier and more comfortable for everyone involved
05/16/2012
Total posts: 17
Unique posters: 16