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by Abigail Van Buren

Neighbor Takes Advantage of Trusting Elderly Woman

DEAR ABBY: I am at my wits' end with my 9-year-old son, "Zane." After his wrestling practice I tell him to take a shower. He either flat-out refuses or makes excuses to prolong not taking one and then refuses. A few times I have had to personally bathe him. Zane doesn't brush his teeth regularly and barely changes his underwear. I don't know what to do to get him to take care of his personal hygiene. Please give me some advice. -- TANYA IN NORTH LIMA, OHIO

DEAR TANYA: One effective way to get a child to live by the rules is to establish them and consistently enforce them. If you are unable to get through to Zane, perhaps his wrestling coach can impress upon him the importance of personal hygiene.

When Zane returns from wrestling practice, inform him that dinner will not be served until he has taken his shower. In the mornings, let him know he is expected to brush his teeth before coming to the breakfast table, and check him out. This may be a stage your son is going through, but if it persists for more than six months, you may need more help than I can give you in this column and you should consult a child psychologist.