Personal Hygiene Habits To Teach Your Kids
Teaching your children the basics of proper personal hygiene is important for keeping them healthy and clean. It’s especially important for your young children to practice good hygiene—hand washing, in particular—because they spend so much of their time in close contact with other kids in the classroom, sharing everything from desks, to chairs, to crayons, to germs. When your child becomes a teenager, hormonal changes will lead to increased oil production and body odor. You'll then be glad you didn’t wait until then to instill good health and hygiene habits. Teaching personal hygiene for kids cannot be overemphasized.
Here are some basic personal hygiene practices to teach your child.
Teaching your child how to wash his or her hands is probably the most important health and hygiene habit. Think about all the different objects and surfaces you touch on a daily basis. Hand washing is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to prevent illnesses and stop germs from spreading. Make sure your child uses soap and lathers for at least 15 seconds—with the tap turned off to conserve water—before rinsing. A good rule of thumb is to wash your hands for as long as it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice.
Encourage your child to wash their hands with soap and water:
- when their hands look dirty
- before eating or preparing food
- when they have touched raw meats, including chicken and beef
- after touching any body fluids like blood, urine or vomit
- immediately after touching animals
- after blowing their nose, sneezing or coughing
- immediately after going to the toilet.
Sneezing and Coughing
Germs travel far and wide. You might already be familiar with the facts that a sneeze travels up to 100 miles per hour and can send 100,000 germs into the air. Research shows that sneezes and coughs can actually travel up to 200 times further than originally presumed. Get your child into the habit of covering his or her mouth and nose with a tissue, or into the crook of their arm if they can’t reach a tissue fast enough.
Eyes, Mouth, and Nose
Germs are easily transmitted into the body through the mucous membranes in the eyes, the nose, and the mouth. Remind your child not to touch their eyes or pick their nose.
School children have the motor skills necessary to do a fairly good job of brushing their teeth on their own, although you still may want to take a quick turn until they are about 6 or 7. Get your child into the habit of flossing and brushing the tongue, the insides of the cheeks and the roof of the mouth. Use a fun timer to encourage your child to brush longer, like an hourglass filled with colored sand.
Many parents find that evening baths are the best way to relax a child before bed. Bathing at night can also help ease the morning rush. Some kids prefer showers, which can also save a lot of time on a busy school night or morning. Showers can also save water. Many kids can shower on their own starting around age 6. You may want to supervise the shampooing and rinsing till he or she gets the hang of it. And be sure to put down a secure bath mat to prevent any slips on the wet floor when they are done.
Children need regular baths or showers. You could encourage a bath or shower at the end of the day as part of a bedtime routine. Make sure your child washes all of their body, including under their arms and their genital and anal areas, and that their body is thoroughly dry before they get dressed.
Clothes and shoes
Children need fresh clothes every day, even if their old clothes don’t smell. Clean underwear every day is especially important. You (or they, if they are old enough) can hang up their school uniform to air when they get home each day.
You may have to help your child practice good personal hygiene habits. These will become even more important as they grow older and approach puberty. Being able to talk openly and honestly about keeping clean will help you manage the more difficult personal hygiene issues that are likely to come up when they are teenagers.