The habit of maintaining proper hygiene and cleanliness can be established as early as toddlerhood, and although this may be a little challenging at first, the rewards will surely benefit your child and your whole household later on. Being clean and maintaining a positive personal hygiene is a huge factor on your child’s health and wellness. A lot of good values also stem from cleanliness and orderliness especially during early learning so it is indeed a remarkable thing to instil the importance of good hygiene to your kids at a young age and to continuously guide and motivate them to establish this during their formative years. Values such as having a strong sense of responsibility, independence, being organized, among others are just some of the traits that can be produced by observing cleanliness and orderliness.
Making sure to explain the importance of good hygiene to your kids and how to practise cleanliness in their day-to-day activities in a manner that is suitable to their age and understanding will get you off to a good start. Hygiene and cleanliness are highly emphasized at Wyralla Road Kindergarten in Miranda. For instance, toddlers may be trained to wipe their mouth with a table napkin after mealtime or to clean their hands with a tissue after eating; but some children do not really understand the urgency of tidying up their toys or putting them back to their respective boxes, etc. That’s why it is essential to take your child’s age and readiness into consideration. The end goal is to make them understand that something that is dirty contains millions of germs that is spread easily and may cause illnesses, and to appreciate feeling good and being healthy by consistently practising proper hygiene.
Here are some ways on how to teach personal hygiene to our little ones:
In as early as 14 months, you can start teaching your kids to tidy up some things such as their toys. Catch their attention and be sure that they hear you as you tell them your instruction. Keep in mind to say the specific thing you want your child to do rather than providing a general request. For instance, when your child is done browsing their books on the floor, saying, “Put the books back to the table.” as opposed to “Tidy up the floor.” is more effective. You can motivate them by holding a race and help your child be accustomed to task of tidying up by doing it on a specified time each day.
Have fun while teaching your kids the proper way to wash their hands. Let them sing their favourite nursery rhyme while letting them rub their hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds. Dry their hands using a clean towel. The singing and fun melodies will let them forget about the tediousness of the task and will make them look forward to an enjoyable handwashing each time. This will also help in making them accustomed to washing their hands. Remind them to always wash their hands after cleaning the house, when they arrive from childcare, after picking up something dirty, or after sneezing and coughing.
Taking a Bath
Taking a bath means getting rid of germs and also feeling fresh. Depending on their age, your children might not yet understand the importance of it but will realize that bath time means fun and a refreshing feeling afterwards, as long as you make bath time extra enjoyable! To start making them recognize the importance of it, pour a little washable coloured glue on the palm of their hands. Then, let them touch a toy. Allow them to see the coloured glue on the toy. Afterwards, hold (or ask their sibling) the toy and show that the glue is already on your hands. Explain that it is how germs are passed upon seeing that the coloured glue is already in your hands.
Using the Toilet
If your child isn’t potty-trained yet, demonstrate the best practices by washing your hands every time you wipe or tidy them up. If your child is already toilet trained, teach your little ones to wash their hands after using the toilet. Tell them to flush the toilet after use. Whether it is a pee or poo, remind them to wash their hands afterwards. Also use a soft toilet paper and wipes for that are gentle for your kids. More helpful information are found in this article, “How to Teach Toddlers to Wipe and Wash“
When spending time at preschool or outdoors, educate your child to be careful with that they touch, whether it is a plant, an animal, or an object. Teach them to wash their hands after playing outside at the playground, playing with their friends, or after touching an animal. After an outdoor activity such as gardening is a great opportunity to establish the importance of washing the hands.
Make your child be aware that the bad bacteria left on our teeth and tongue will cause tooth decay and bad breath. Clean your child’s teeth regularly with proper brushing and flossing as per your child dentist’s recommendations. Once your child realizes the routine through consistency, it will make it easier for them to understand the process. Depending on your child’s age, you can start to introduce how to use a toothbrush with a kids’ toothpaste or a natural/organic toothpaste that is safe for kids or recommended by your child’s dentist. Use a soft toothbrush and teach them to brush their teeth in a circular motion, the cheeks, the roof of their tongue, their tongue, and their lips. Remind them to spit out the toothpaste and rinse their mouth properly. Reward them for brushing their teeth twice a day without being reminded. It is also best to encourage them to stay away from too much sweets.
Establish healthy food habits by including proper food hygiene. Tell your child that when they touch their food with dirty hands, the germs will be easily spread in their food, causing sicknesses like tummy ache. So, it is very important to wash their hands before and after meals, and to ensure that their hands are clean during mealtimes. You can explain the sickness that they may get when a food is contaminated according to their age. For instance, you can inform your school-age child about food poisoning and diarrhea.
When traveling and spending time outside the house, educate them to maintain cleanliness by always throwing rubbish in the bin. In the car, make sure that you have a bin or something to use to keep the trash before throwing it to a bin. Tell them not to throw their garbage anywhere and to simply keep it until they find a bin that’s available. In a way suitable to their age, explain to them that a dirty environment doesn’t only look awful but it also causes pollution which will result to illnesses.
Nails and Foot
Encourage your kids to wash their feet after playing outside and to scrub and wash it properly each bath time. When washing their hands and feet, tell them to give special attention to their nails when washing as many bacteria are present under their nails especially after playing outdoors. Always cut their fingernails and toe nails regularly. Tell them not to bite their fingernails.
If your child already knows how to take a bath on their own, provide a gentle kid shampoo and teach them how to thoroughly shampoo their hair and to carefully rinse it with water. By regularly taking a bath and shampooing, your little one will get rid of the dirt and grease. Teach them how to dry their hair and to comb their hair properly and to avoid sharing their comb to others. Also regularly check your child’s hair for lice, dandruff or any other scalp problems.
Remember to explain things in the simplest and most encouraging way as possible and demonstrate the task clearly so your kids could understand. Always be ready to praise them for a job well done. Be supportive and patient when they commit a mistake or miss a cleanliness habit. Set an example and constantly guide them. Whether they immediately understand the essence of cleanliness or reminding them about cleanliness has become a constant thing, your patience and consistency matters and will surely provide a lasting, positive impact to your little one towards learning the significance of self-care and being concerned with the environment! 🙂
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