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Smelly Kids

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SaltineQueen specializes in School Nurse, past Med Surge.

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I know we've talked about this before, but I'm not having any luck with searching...

My general thought is that it's awkward for me to have the first conversation with a kid who I have little to no relationship with. My kids are K-3rd...so not usually B.O. but often a urine smell, or just a generally dirty smell, sometimes breath that would knock you down.

What are your thoughts on the subject? How do you talk about it?

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Flare is a ASN, BSN and specializes in school nursing, ortho, trauma.

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I agree, the first discussion needs to come from someone familiar with the student -teacher, aide, etc. However, I also don't mind having the hygiene discussion either -BUT - I will not have it repeatedly with a child. You get one - maybe 2 come to Jesus talks telling the kid how important it is to bathe, brush teeth, change into clean clothing, etc. If they don't make any changes, I invoke the "no rule against stinky" clause.

ETA - of course this does not apply when there is a concern of child neglect. I'm talking about the kid that you know has access to hot water, washing machine and is simply being a scooch about hygiene

Edited by Flare

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ruby_jane has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in ICU/community health/school nursing.

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Just now, Flare said:

If they don't make any changes, I invoke the "no rule against stinky" clause.

Beautifully said. Here's the thing...does the kid have a home? Do they have a washing machine and a dryer that actually work? Is there something neurodevelopmental where the kid will only wear certain things and maybe mom can't always wash the things all the time? If it's breath...is mom helping brush the teeth? Is it neurodevelopmental refusal to have something in the mouth?

Check, check, nope, nope nope? Is it neglect?

Nope, nope, check,nope, check? Can you do anything to help?

It sounds like you or the counselor or social worker or the teacher may need to do a little more digging?

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kidzcare has 5 years experience.

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45 minutes ago, ruby_jane said:

Here's the thing...does the kid have a home? Do they have a washing machine and a dryer that actually work?

I had this situation with a sixth grader a few years ago. The smell was BAD. Took over the entire classroom. I did have a relationship with the student since he took a daily medication so I said something to him. The only thing that did was have him spraying 1/2 a bottle of cologne on himself everyday.

The social worker and principal reached out to the parents to see if there was an issue with getting laundry done at home and the mom went through the roof at the suggestion that they could not provide for their family and the implication that their house and family were unclean.

It was a mess of a situation all around. The smell continued. Our best guess was a pet was using the laundry pile as a place to pee. Probably a cat since it was a very strong ammonia smell.

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ruby_jane has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in ICU/community health/school nursing.

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20 minutes ago, kidzcare said:

The social worker and principal reached out to the parents to see if there was an issue with getting laundry done at home and the mom went through the roof at the suggestion that they could not provide for their family and the implication that their house and family were unclean.

SOOOO awkward. I like that you had someone in administration do the reaching out. That way the bounceback wasn't on you.

I would also say in the handful of times I've had this situation....I would risk bounceback on me anytime if it meant that I did identify (even once) where the family needed help.

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SaltineQueen specializes in School Nurse, past Med Surge.

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22 minutes ago, kidzcare said:

I had this situation with a sixth grader a few years ago. The smell was BAD. Took over the entire classroom. I did have a relationship with the student since he took a daily medication so I said something to him. The only thing that did was have him spraying 1/2 a bottle of cologne on himself everyday.

The social worker and principal reached out to the parents to see if there was an issue with getting laundry done at home and the mom went through the roof at the suggestion that they could not provide for their family and the implication that their house and family were unclean.

It was a mess of a situation all around. The smell continued. Our best guess was a pet was using the laundry pile as a place to pee. Probably a cat since it was a very strong ammonia smell.

I've heard that cooking meth produces a similar smell...something I've always got tucked in the back of my mind.

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tining has 26 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in School Nurse.

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15 minutes ago, SaltineQueen said:

I've heard that cooking meth produces a similar smell...something I've always got tucked in the back of my mind.

I was about to say that!

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Cas1in72 has 26 years experience and specializes in school nursing/ maternal/child hospital based.

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2 minutes ago, tining said:

I was about to say that!

Exactly, I always ask about pets in the home. If there arent any and no history of incont with the student, I would make sure administration is aware of your assessment.

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kidzcare has 5 years experience.

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1 hour ago, SaltineQueen said:

I've heard that cooking meth produces a similar smell...something I've always got tucked in the back of my mind.

1 hour ago, tining said:

I was about to say that!

1 hour ago, Cas1in72 said:

Exactly, I always ask about pets in the home. If there arent any and no history of incont with the student, I would make sure administration is aware of your assessment.

I didn't know that! Yikes! This was about 4 years ago and in a district I no longer work in. Hopefully that was not the case!

When I did see the mom, she did not have the smell on her. If it was from meth, I'd assume everyone would have the odor?

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BrisketRN has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN.

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3 minutes ago, kidzcare said:

I didn't know that! Yikes! This was about 4 years ago and in a district I no longer work in. Hopefully that was not the case!

When I did see the mom, she did not have the smell on her. If it was from meth, I'd assume everyone would have the odor?

Probably! We did have a child with a cat hoarding issue. DCFS was called, over 15 cats in the home but not considered negligent. We ended up having student (upon their choice, older and embarrassed by the smell) get to school early, shower in the locker rooms, and uniforms washed at school and kept at school. Really saw the child's confidence and social skills sky rocket after that was put into play.

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mandm97 has 35 years experience as a RN and specializes in School Nurse/Supervisor.

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Working in a middle school, this topic comes up quite often. I agree that the person that has the concern (usually teaching staff) should call the parents as they are the ones who sees that student daily. Oh boy.........teaching staff does NOT like that! I've been burnt one to many times in the past. So this is what I usually do........advised the teacher that they should call and get permission for me to speak with the child about their hygiene since they are the ones with the concerns and has a relationship with the student . I will not speak with a child until I or someone else clears with a parent.

If the teacher gives me push back...I will then tell them that I will call the parent but make it very clear who has the the concerns. Conversation will go something like this...."Mrs Teacher is concerned about some strong orders your child is having while in Mrs Teacher's class. If you would like, I can have a chat with your child about day to day hygiene as a reminder".

Sometimes when I let staff know that is what I'm gonna do....suddenly the smell is not so bad.

Of course as everyone already said...If you suspect neglect/money issues it is whole other ballgame!

Michele

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SaltineQueen specializes in School Nurse, past Med Surge.

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1 hour ago, mandm97 said:

Working in a middle school, this topic comes up quite often. I agree that the person that has the concern (usually teaching staff) should call the parents as they are the ones who sees that student daily. Oh boy.........teaching staff does NOT like that! I've been burnt one to many times in the past. So this is what I usually do........advised the teacher that they should call and get permission for me to speak with the child about their hygiene since they are the ones with the concerns and has a relationship with the student . I will not speak with a child until I or someone else clears with a parent.

If the teacher gives me push back...I will then tell them that I will call the parent but make it very clear who has the the concerns. Conversation will go something like this...."Mrs Teacher is concerned about some strong orders your child is having while in Mrs Teacher's class. If you would like, I can have a chat with your child about day to day hygiene as a reminder".

Sometimes when I let staff know that is what I'm gonna do....suddenly the smell is not so bad.

Of course as everyone already said...If you suspect neglect/money issues it is whole other ballgame!

Michele

Curious why you clear it with a parent before talking to the student?

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