I have a 6th grader turning 12 this november and a 3rd grader turning 9 in december. I will just say, its scary to watch! My body has a strict time limit of 18 hours without showering, after which my skin starts to crawl and my hair can be sculpted into almost any shape. Yet our kids hang their heads and stomp up the stairs when they find out its shower night: every TWO DAYS. Whats even worse is they will come home from a sports practice or game, and go about their lives like nothing else has happened. For me, I sweat, I shower, it is that simple. My son kept his soccer shinguards on until bedtime last night. Who would want those things touching them beyond the instant practice is over??? They have no issue with mounds of dirty clothes or a floor with no path. It is maddening.
My wife is a teacher and believes in incentives and positive reinforcement. I am sicilian and my behaviors were corrected mostly with precision targeted shouting, and sometimes spanking, whether you knew what you were doing was wrong or not. As a parent myself its all been tried except spanking, which is the only thing I’ve ever been threatened with divorce over, crossdressing included. When I was their age I was a mess too though, I liked clothes that were two sizes too big, hated dressing nicely and I remember my dad arguing with my mom, when we would go places where I was supposed to look nice and instead I was wearing a mets t shirt because that was the only thing I’d leave the house in. I eventually came around, now I don’t even own a pair of jeans, and I’m just like he was: how do they go out looking like that???
As you find words, keep at it, with respect for their feelings. My daughter has my same silent defensiveness when it comes to processing someone telling her that she isnt going about things the right way, and when I see she is done listening I make my point once more and stop talking. I actually wish someone had been more straightforward with me. I had just enough true friends that the social/interpersonal cost of my backwardness was higher than I realized while I was going through it, and I didnt fundamentally change my ways until my 20’s. I realize now I missed out on a lot of experiences, but too late to do me any good! Starting to think about all the ways other people perceive you, is something that just has to click on it’s own.