Children learn personal hygiene habits of cleanliness and health from their parents.
Learning good personal hygiene is essential as it helps the body to get rid of bacteria and viruses that are responsible for illness and infection.
Staying away from illnesses protects you and your children.
Hygiene habits show that you value yourself by taking care of your body.
You can teach your child hygiene habits with the help of following activities
Learning how germs spread
You can help children understand what germs are and how they spread in easy to understand language.
E.g., “Germs are tiny bugs that make us sick” “They’re almost everywhere, and everyone has them, on the hands, in the nose, and in the tummy. Some of these germs can make us sick. We can’t see them, but they are there; so, we should be careful to not share the germs that might make us, or someone else, sick.”
Explain to children that we can pick up germs in multiple ways, such as by touching things that others have touched. We can spread germs by sneezing and coughing and letting others use our personal items, e.g., eating utensils.
In a simple play game, you can help your kid to better understand how germs spread.
Tell your child that you will pretend to sneeze and then splatter your hand with paint as pretend germs. After this, go around the room touching things, such as tables, shelves, and door handles. Ask your child to follow you, and use a tissue to wipe up paint residue. Ask your kid to talk about the things they have touched in the room and how they may have picked up germs.
Now you can tell them how they can avoid spreading germs. Mention sneezing into a tissue, washing hands, bathing, and brushing teeth can help to decrease germ spread.
Ask your children to wash their hands before eating or handling food and before playing in the water table. Encourage them to wash hands after using the toilet, blowing the nose, playing outdoors, touching pets and playing in the sand.
You can post a sign with illustrations of handwashing steps (e.g., wetting hands, soaping up, rinsing, and drying with a towel) above the sink.
To stress upon the length of time (30 seconds) needed for the soaping step, play this game.
Sprinkle your childs hands with sticky glitter. Ask them to pretend the glitter is germs and then ask to wash their hands with soap and water. Washing off the glitter will take nearly 30 seconds. Tell them that they should scrub their hands as long as they did with the glitter each time they wash their hands.
Note: Glitter can be irritating to the eye; supervise children carefully and ensure all of the glitters is washed away.
Teeth should be brushed at least twice a day. Have one soft bristle toothbrush for every child, and label it with the child’s name. Show them how to apply a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and teach them how to brush.
Brushing made fun with a sand timer
Use a sand timer to measure two minutes and have children brush their teeth as usual. After they wash their mouth, ask them to look at their teeth in a mirror.
Teach girls to wipe from front to back after urination and passing stools to avoid spreading germs from the rectum to the vagina or bladder.
Demonstrate on a naked plastic doll.
Show kids how to flush the toilet.
Ask children to wash their hands thoroughly after toileting to help remove all germs on their hands.
Keep extra underwear ready in case a child has an accident. Avoid shaming or punishing the child.
Langham B. Teaching children personal hygiene[Internet]. Available at: https://www.childcarequarterly.com/pdf/spring18_hygiene.pdf. Accessed on Feb 17, 2020.