As a parent or guardian, your child’s cleanliness may be at the top of your list with other “essentials” like good nutrition and overall healthiness. Unfortunately, your child may show little interest in staying clean or getting clean after a day of playing hard. While a little exposure to dirt and germs is good for the immune system, it’s important for your child (of any age) to understand the importance of good personal hygiene.
Face it, some kids are good about washing up and others are not, making nightly bathtime a battle rather than a relaxing and quiet moment in a busy day. Whether you’re trying to get your 2 year old to wash his hands before lunch or you’re trying to give your teenage daughter a friendly, but strong hint that it’s time to hit the showers, here are some tips for talking to your child about having and maintaining good hygiene:
It is Just You?
Before you draw a bath and grab a fresh change of clothes at the first sign of dirt, think about the real need for cleanliness at that exact moment in time. Sure, no one likes to follow around a dirty kid trailing in mud from outside, but could your knee jerk reaction towards dirt more about you than the dirt itself? Yes, when your child plays in dirt and mud, he or she should have a bath at the end of day, after play time, or wash up well before a meal. If dirt gets on your nerves, give it a few more years, as your child grows up it’s likely that he or she will rarely get dirty, let alone want to spend much time outdoors. If you child is having a good time and staying safe, let him or her get a little bit dirty. Clothes and bodies are easy to wash up and, plus, his or her imagination and creativity is hard at work, relax a bit.
Teaching Young Kids About Hygiene Cleanliness
Infants and children under the age are relatively easy to keep clean and bathtime is often part of a relaxing nighttime ritual, however, once a child gets a little bit older and hits the toddler years, you may notice a little more protest at bathtime or when it’s time to wash hands before a meal. While toddlers often request independence, if you left it up to them it’s doubtful that hands and faces would be washed. If you’re struggling to get your young child to wash up or brush teeth, try to make it a fun experience. For example, a good thorough hand wash lasts about 20 seconds (which may seem like a lifetime to a toddler). As you and your child wash hands, sing a “Happy Birthday” or another favorite song. This sound be more than enough time to completely clear hands of all dirt and bacteria.
If bathtime is your biggest issue, begin to instruct your child how to wash him or herself and ask him or her to show you how he or she can do it “all by myself”. Above all, be patient with your child. If you make it an argument, you’ll face a bigger battle.
As They Get Older
Once your child gets a hang of hygiene, bathtime shouldn’t be as much as an issue and unsupervised showers may be successful before the age of 10. However, as your child gets older, you’re facing a bigger (and smellier) challenge: puberty. Puberty, alone, is a sensitive subject and if you remember anything about what it was like to have a changing body, you probably dread talking about it with your child, however, there are ways to address and encourage your tween and teenager to take charge of his or her own hygiene. First of all, remember that many kids going through puberty feel uncomfortable or weird about their bodies. Be sensitive about how your approach body odor and other areas, such as greasy skin, but emphasis that good hygiene is essential for good health and to feeling good about yourself.
As soon as you start noticing body odor, take your child to the store and let him or her select personal products such as deodorant, soap, and face cleanser. You can make recommendations of some of your favorites, but let him or her choose his or her favorite scent. It is likely to be a more successful step towards good hygiene than if you brought home a bag of products and told them to start using them.