Whether there’s a pandemic or not, teaching good hygiene at home is essential and should never be disregarded. As you may know, good habits begin at home, and it is our responsibility as parents to teach kids healthy habits as early as possible.
If you are wondering when you can start teaching good hygiene to kids, the answer is right now. Remember that little kids, even when they are babies and toddlers, thrive on routine, and the more they are exposed to a consistent practice at home, the more they are able to remember it. This also applies to good personal hygiene habits.
Also, very young children are awesome learners! They are essentially using all of their time learning about the world and learning new things, and they can easily absorb whatever you are teaching them. So take advantage of this period to teach them good practices!
Ready to begin teaching good hygiene at home? Here are 6 specific things to teach your child.
1. A consistent daily bath time
As mentioned before, it is very important to set a consistent daily schedule for your child. This routine will not only help them adjust better but also help them understand the things that they are required to do every day. This routine should definitely include a bath time, which teaches your child the importance of cleanliness.
The time of the day you want to allocate for bath time depends on you and your lifestyle. Generally, though, it is important for your child to know that they need to take a bath after a long day of playing and getting dirty. Evening baths will also get your child relaxed and ready for bedtime.
2. The basics of hand washing
Next, you need to put special emphasis on teaching your child the proper way to wash their hands. While you need to encourage them to explore the world by a lot of sensory play, which involves touching a lot of things (except for dangerous things, of course), they need to know that their hands can get dirty when doing so. Hence, they need to wash their hands after playing.
They also need to understand that their hands don’t need to get visibly dirty before washing their hands. Teach your child that germs are invisible microorganisms, and if they have germs on their hands, they can get sick and can spread diseases to other people. Let them know that washing hands is an important habit that they should never forget.
Don’t let them wash their hands improperly, too. Instead, teach them the right way how to do it, which is by using soap and lathering it in their hands for at least 20 seconds before rinsing. You can even teach them a song to sing while lathering their hands!
3. Elbow instead of hands
We have been taught to cover our noses or mouths with our hands when we sneeze or cough to prevent the spread of germs. However, it is not advisable to use bare hands when doing this as germs can still spread when they get into the hands. It is actually recommended to cover the nose or mouth with tissue or a clean handkerchief.
But your child may not always have easy access to tissue, and even if they are right beside a box, they may not be fast enough to snatch one before sneezing or coughing. Teach them instead to cover their nose or mouth with their elbow instead of their hands. This way, the germs don’t end up on their hands, which they use to touch a lot of things, like food.
4. Fresh clothes everyday
It is also important to teach your child the importance of wearing fresh clothes everyday, especially clean underwear! Again, just like their hands, remind your child that clothes don’t need to look visibly soiled before you can tell that they are dirty. Emphasize that even clean-looking clothes and fresh-smelling clothes might have germs in them.
5. Oral hygiene basics
Next, when teaching good hygiene at home, it is important not to overlook the necessity of good oral hygiene habits. Teach your child that an unclean mouth might cause them to have cavities in their teeth or a foul-smelling breath.
To avoid these, encourage them to regularly brush their teeth at least twice daily, and don’t forget to teach them how to do it properly. Make sure that they are able to brush all their teeth thoroughly as well as their tongue and gums. Also remind them to floss after brushing. Similarly, don’t forget to attend to your regular dentist visits!
6. Food safety
Finally, remember to also emphasize the importance of food safety. Aside from eating a healthy diet, it is very important to know how to identify signs of spoilage. Teach your child that eating spoiled or unclean food can cause food poisoning, which can be potentially dangerous especially at their age. It may even lead to serious diseases like hepatitis A, cholera, or typhoid fever. At home, make sure you throw away all expired food and make sure that everyone who handles food has washed their hands thoroughly.
Teaching good hygiene at home should be given utmost priority. These good habits are easy to learn for children at a young age, and always including these habits in their daily routine will help them grow aware of how to take care of their bodies properly.