Sometimes teaching your child good hygiene habits can be tricky especially if they have a stubborn streak. Thankfully, we have a few tips and tricks that will help you teach healthy hygiene habits to your little ones in no time. (See other parenting tips)
1. Hand Washing
One of the most basic hygiene habits is also one that you usually have the hardest time teaching your kid. Hand washing is a vital part of keeping your child healthy, especially during cold and flu season.
The best way to teach about the importance of hand washing is by explaining it in simple kid-friendly language. Try something like: “We have to make sure to wash our hands now so we can get rid of all the germs that make us sick.” Remember that the example starts with you. Before meals or after coming in from playing outside with the kids, go to the sink to wash your hands. By seeing you do it, children will be more likely to copy your behavior and adopt hand-washing as a good hygiene habit.
Don’t forget their independence either! Make hand washing fun. Get them a stool so they can easily reach the sink. Help them pick out their own special soap to use. All of these things will help them take ownership of hand washing and adopt healthy habits.
2. Tooth Brushing
Just like hand washing, tooth brushing is a basic hygiene habit that can sometimes be difficult to teach, but we have some great tips to help you. As with hand washing, demonstration and simple explanation are important.
By saying something like “We brush our teeth so they stay clean and healthy” and then brushing your own teeth, you show your kid that they should care about brushing their teeth. Next time they reach for the toothbrush, let them take it and put toothpaste on it. Gentle guidance and reminders can make all the difference when teaching this hygiene habit.
3. Coughing and Sneezing
Teaching kids the importance of covering their nose when they sneeze and mouth when they cough is a good hygiene habit to enforce early. Whenever your child coughs or sneezes, remind them to cover their mouths and noses. Demonstrate for them how to use their hand to cover their mouth or to cough into their elbow.
Remember that it takes a while for young kids to catch their own coughs and sneezes early enough to cover them. When that happens gently remind them about covering their mouth and noses with “Oh! You almost got that one. Remember that we cover our mouths and noses when we cough or sneeze so we don’t spread germs. Try to catch the next one!” You can even practice with mock coughs and sneezes together to reinforce the habit.
Bath time is either the best time or the worst time for your child. Some kids love to spend time in the tub and others hate it. No matter which one your child is, teaching good hygiene habits with washing should start fairly young.
When bath time comes around, make it fun! Get bubble bath and maybe some bath toys and turn learning healthy habits into a Simon Says game. Give your child a soapy washcloth and point to different body parts and say “Simon say scrub your foot/arm/face etc” This will help give your kid a benchmark for what has to be washed each time they hop in the tub.
5. Hair Washing
Typically, most little kids do not need to wash their hair more than 2 to 3 times a week. More frequently can cause their scalp to dry out. To make hair washing days fun, let them pick out some special shampoo to use and explain “We wash our hair when it starts to look oily.” This will give kids a visual to look for so they know when it is hair washing day.
When kids start to get older and don’t need your help with bathtime anymore, tell them to rub the shampoo in until the hair at their scalp line “squeaks.” This will ensure that all the oil and dirt is washed out and will avoid the “Oh it got a little soapy so it’s clean!” problem.
6. Hair Brushing
While this is usually not a problem for your sons, it can be a nightmare if you have a daughter. Teaching good hygiene habits for hair brushing can mean that you spend less time untangling horrendous knots from your daughter’s hair.
To teach good hair brushing habits, show your daughter how to use detangler and then brush her hair from the bottom up. Usually, once she learns that hair brushing means fewer painful hair knot untangling sessions with mom and dad, she will brush her hair all the time.
7. Post-Potty Clean Up
This is something that can sometimes take a little longer for kids to master. When you are potty training, make sure that you talk about how to properly use toilet paper after using the bathroom. Show your child how to tear off the right amount of paper and wipe from the back to the front. Flushable wipes may be easier during this learning stage because they can provide a more thorough clean.
Make sure to be pragmatic about the process. If you act like it’s gross, then your kids will too and that could mean that they never want to learn how to properly clean-up after potty time.
8. Wearing Sunscreen
Most kids hate sunscreen and getting them to wear it can be a huge hassle. One of the most interesting ways to teach little kids about the importance of sunscreen is with UV-sensitive stickers. They turn from yellow to dark red with sun exposure and you can find them online.
Do an experiment with your child and put sunscreen on some of the stickers and put them outside. After a few hours, go get them and explain that sunscreen protects us from getting burned like the red stickers and show how the stickers with sunscreen stayed yellow and “unburned”. This visual can really help teach little ones.
9. Blowing Your Nose
Teaching your child how to blow their nose can be tricky. Mastering blowing into a facial tissue can be a difficult thing for young kids. This is another good place to lead by example. Whenever you grab a tissue, grab one for your child and hold it for them while you explain how to blow your nose.
The next time they have a cold, show them how blowing their nose can help make it easier to breathe. This alone can sometimes be enough to encourage this hygiene habit.
10. Nail Clipping
Nail clipping can be a difficult undertaking for a parent, especially with a wiggly toddler. Getting your child to sit still for a nail trimming can be easier when you explain to them why they need their nails cut. Be honest with them and say that regular nail cleaning and clipping keeps them healthy and keeps dirt out from under their nails.
If you have a little girl, treat them to some nail polish when you give them a nail clipping. This can make the experience fun for them and encourage them that it is a good and important healthy habit.
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