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How to Teach your Kid Basic Hygiene Skills

A healthy child tends to be a happy child. Uncomplicated and essential, your kid’s hygiene skills matter. It helps our physical and emotional health, and for our kids, it allows them to make well-informed decisions about their health.

Toothbrushing Tips

Today you cannot go anywhere without seeing COVID-19 alerts and warnings. Most of them feature the importance of handwashing and how to sneeze! Good hygiene has taken on a whole other level, and it’s never been more vital for our children.

So how do you teach your kid basic hygiene skills? Well, let’s take a look:

Why soap matters

Up until the third decade of life, your brain is still developing. Which at its core means you’ve still got a lot of learning and growing to do!

For kids, having context is essential. They want to know why they have to do something and their implications if they don’t. Learning basic hygiene skills is no different. So tell them why it matters.

Germs, harmful bacteria and viruses are on every surface we touch. From touching your lips to rubbing your eyes, your hands are a natural carrier for all the nasties that our bodies fight so hard against.

Washing your hands is a simple solution to a potentially severe problem. Plus, soap in itself is a powerful tool. It clings on to all the dirt, grime and germs on your skin as you lather. When you wash it away, the soap takes all of the unwanted particles with it!

Model good hygiene

Whatever age your kid is, you are the first person they look to. It’s no surprise really, seeing as your voice and face is the most familiar thing in the world to them since birth. A natural role model, basic hygiene skills start with you at home.

This is likely to include:

Washing your hands before preparing food and after each visit to the toilet
Regular bathing and showers
Keeping surfaces and your home clean

You can quickly get your children involved too. Let them load the dishwasher or wash the dishes by hand, spray down the tabletop or put out the recycling.

Talk about the human body

To understand the importance of good hygiene, your kid needs to know about their body. So talk about it. You can discuss how each organ works, where it is and why you need to keep yourself clean. From there, you can talk about illnesses and diseases.

Opening up the conversation is one of the first steps towards understanding and developing skills. From sweating to breathing, giving your child a balanced view of how our bodies work and what to expect will inspire them to adopt good hygiene skills. Win, win!

Don’t forget oral hygiene!

Our mouths are a biome of good and bad bacteria. Food and drink debris are the leading cause of acid-causing bacterias to cause problems in our mouths. So staying on top of a daily toothbrushing regime is vital to keep plaque, tooth decay and other severe oral diseases at bay.

You can easily add toothbrushing into your kid’s routine from their first few weeks of life. The moment milk enters your newborn’s mouth, sugary deposits are left to swill around their gums.

When left alone, these sugars can cause acidic bacteria buildup. Using a soft, damp cloth or dental wipe, you can gently clean your baby’s gums. As your child grows, sticking to a morning and bedtime brushing routine is vital.

Dentists universally recommend brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice a day. Anything less than this, and your child is likely to experience dental problems later on in life. Let’s face it; no-one really wants to go to the dentist more than they have to!

Get involved in the laundry

Household tasks are not beyond your children. Anything from making their bed to putting their dirty laundry in the basket are all important life skills. So don’t be afraid to ask your three-year-old to pick up their toys or your fifteen-year-old to strip their bed!

Understanding how our clothes get dirty and why they need to be washed is a good conversation to have with your kid.
Just as washing our hands is essential, keeping our clothes clean is equally needed to keep our health and wellbeing in check.

How your kids can get involved in the laundry:

Separate light and dark clothing into piles
Help load the washing machine
Help you hang up clothes to dry

Never forget, you are the model of good hygiene. If you can get your kids to get behind the laundry process, you might even see the bottom of the basket one day!

Explore your local bookstore

Sometimes we need all the help we can get, and stories are a fantastic place to start. Every child’s life revolves around storytelling. Family anecdotes, memories, nursery rhymes and fairytales are all part of their fabric.

Fortunately, there are many authors around who think that your kid’s hygiene skills are essential too!

Check out some of these titles:

Fairytales Gone Wrong: Jack and the Beanstalk: A Story About Keeping Clean by Steve Smallman
Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Wash Your Hair by Steve Smallman
Don’t Get Sick by Prodigy Wizard
My Personal Hygiene by Iren Frost
I Don’t Want to Wash My Hands by Tony Ross
Hey Duggee: The Tooth Brushing Badge by Hey Duggee

Extra motivation

When your kids need extra motivation, getting the whole family involved will help your cause. If everybody follows the same simple rules, the youngest babe to the oldest teen will all be working together for better hygiene.

Sometimes additional reminders around the house will help, like a poster or a note on a mirror. You may need to go a step further for younger children. This could include:

Reward charts: give your kid a sticker for every task they do well
Pom-pom jar: similar to a reward chart but slightly more fun! Give your child a pom-pom every time they brush their teeth well or help with the laundry. The reward comes at the end when the jar is full
Activities: visual aids are wonderful teaching aids. Print out or draw a mouth template and get your little one to brush the teeth!

At the end of the day, you know your kid better than anyone. You know how they tick and what interests them the most. So, use it to your advantage!

Nothing is more rewarding to a parent than seeing their child doing well. Basic hygiene skills are a must! Are you ready to give your kid the tools they need to grow?

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