Teach Kids to Maintain Good Hygiene – Healthy Kids

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Summers are here, schools are out, people go on vacations and now it’s being a holiday time, our kids will definitely spend more time outdoors rather than staying at home. Once outside they will play in mud, roll in dust, splash in swimming pool, spend time in park and then pick their nose, touch their face or scratch their head with the same dirty hands. Ewww! sounds all disgusting but as we all know, our children are really good at getting all filthy sothe onus lays on parents to keep their ward  spick and span so the next day they repeat the same process of getting all dirty. LOL! But that’s childhood and we can’t deprive them of life’s little pleasure.

So how do we ensure that our kid remains healthy & protected from infections and diseases which every changing season brings with it? With the onset of summers, as the temperature soars, some common ailments which could be water-borne, mosquito-borne or food-borne could affect the health of children   as their immunity is low.Since you can’t really eliminate all the bad bacteria and viruses from earth, you can only do what’s in your capacity. As the saying goes “prevention is better than cure”, it always help if we .

A toddler or a preschooler always has this habit of doing things on their own and if you try preaching the importance of cleanliness they won’t see what all the fuss is about. You must have seen with your own kids how they whine, make faces or even cry if you ask them again and again to wash hands or scrub properly. They just like to lead a care-free life, make mess, and pick up dirt, share bottles with friends without giving a damn about falling sick. But as parents it’s our duty to teach the importance of maintaining a good hygiene routine so as to avoid the frequent trip to the doctor’s clinic.

So how to go about it? There can’t be any rule of thumb to teach kids health-promoting habits as each child is different and every parent has his own way to deal with a situation depending on the kid’s temperament but a general guideline to follow is to enforce healthy habit in a fun manner and to become a role-model yourself so that they emulate what they see.Some of the ideas to encourage children to practice personal hygiene are:

 1) Hand-wash: this is the most important of all the hygiene habit which a kid should be taught since childhood. Since a child won’t be able to make connection between hand-wash and killing germs, you have to make him understand as to why it is important. I used to show my little one the advertisements on television where a leading brand of liquid soap shows the monster germs on kid’s hand when he comes home after playing outside and the mother tells him the importance of washing hands before eating food lest the germs enter his body. You can also show your kid such videos to make your point. Also show him practically the correct technique to wash hands: rinse the hands with water, take soap, scrub palms, back of hands and the nails for at least 15-20 seconds, then wash properly and pat dry. If the child finds it tedious to scrub hands for so long, sing a rhyme “rub a dub dub…” to make the task interesting.

You make sure and also teach that he needs to wash his hands before eating, after playing, after he uses washroom and whenever he is back home from outside. My younger daughter, who is just 5, is so trained that now she washes hands unattended and sometimes instructs her grandparents too to do the same whenever they forget.

Where the facility to wash hands with soap is not available, do keep a hand-sanitizer which could be your second best option for on-the-go cleaning.

Friendly tip: Parents can buy hand or liquid soap which comes in variety of attractive shapes, colours and fragrance to make the whole process more appealing. As hand-sanitizer can’t remove the dirt, do carry paper soap while travelling.

Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


2) Must-have bath: For one my friends it’s always a struggle during morning when she has to give bath to her three-year old. There will be lots of crying, throwing tantrums and running around the house. Surely there are kids like him who won’t like bath-time at all, irrespective of which a routine bath is must, especially during summers, to remove sweat and filth from the entire body. Usually children love water but for those who don’t, parents should not make it chore for them. Instead, while giving bath you can patiently tell them how exactly keeping themselves clean will keep the germs at bay and their body will be neat, clean and smell nice.You can sing some rhymes or let the kid play with some bath toys while you give the bath.  Use shampoo suds or soap bubbles as tools to make bath –time more interesting.

To ease the morning rush, you can also give bath before the kid goes to bed. Once the child reaches the age of six or seven, he can manage to take shower all by himself but you still have to monitor so that they clean all body parts and assist them in shampooing their hair properly.Teaching the importance of bathing to older kids is not much of an effort as they themselves are conscious of their appearance, body odor etc. though during summers you might want to push them in shower during evenings too as they become very sweaty and gross after coming back from play.

Friendly Parenting Tip: Buy soap and shampoos which are chemical-free and don’t produce tears. To distract the kid from his fear of water, buy bath toys like squeaky rubber duckies, small boats, fish toys etc. from a variety available online. Always carry baby wipes while travelling.

Image courtesy of Clare Bloomfield at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3) Kids Dental health: the best way to teach a kid about dental hygiene is by an example, for which parents are the best bet. Let him watch you brushing your teeth and enjoying it.At the same time tell him brushing teeth twice a day is must to prevent cavities.A toddler won’t understand the term “cavity”, so just tell him that we brush our teeth to make them look clean, sparkly and for the mouth to smell nice. You can also let him brush his teeth with a little toothpaste so as to encourage him brushing through a fun activity (later do remember to brush his teeth).

It’s quite obvious that during summer vacations, kids tend to eat lots of ice-cream, candy and other junk stuff, so proper dental care should be taken to avoid problems later. To motivate your child you can buy toothbrush which has it favourite cartoon character on it or the electronic ones which play music too. Let him also choose his preferred flavour of toothpaste. These little things will make the boring routine of brushing a little more interesting.

Friendly parenting tip:

* During summer vacation make sure you visit dentist for your childs’ complete oral check-up and ask dentist to explain him the importance of brushing the teeth. Keep rewarding your kid for all the effort he makes.

* While travelling make sure to put toothbrush in the case specially designed for them to keep it safe in the bag.

The above given are the basics and must follow healthy habits. Other than these the kid’s health also demands the following etiquettes to be observed religiously:

A)     At a certain age, a kid can understand about the communicable diseases and how to prevent its transmission by covering the mouth while coughing or sneezing, so teach them.Using disposable paper tissue should also be taught if child has a runny nose. Tell them to avoid touching their face and eyes or picking their nose with hands time and again as this is the basic source of contracting infections from others.

B)      Although sharing is a good habit but not when your child’s friend is sick. Though you can’t be everywhere and the kid also can’t pick and choose whom he should play in a park or with whom he should sit in bus or class, you can always teach them how to be safe by not to sharing their water bottles, tiffin, cups, toothbrush etc. with others.

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C)      Proper hair grooming, especially in hot and sticky weather also forms an important part of the daily healthy routine. The hair should be kept dirt, oil and dandruff –free by using combs, brushes and shampoos meant for kids. Various hair accessories also help in decorating and taming the hair in this hot weather. Read my blog“Essential Summer Hair Accessories” for further details. Similarly keep trimming the child’s nails from time to time as they are the store house of germs.

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D)     As the temperature soars, so does the skin ailment like rashes and itches. Care should be taken to keep skin healthy and happy by applying sunscreen before your kid goes out, making him wear sunhats, using mild/ hypo-allergenic lotion, powder and creams and giving him bath regularly. Loose cotton clothes are your best bet during summer season.

E)      Make sure the child eat healthy food, drinks lot of water, remain active during day and sleep tight during night. Timely vaccination against flu also helps in preventing viral infections.

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Luckily , today with the help of various videos, toys , books, stuffed animal ( help in role-play) , grooming devices and you yourself being a role model, teaching kids  good personal hygiene practices is no more a difficult task and  with help of these  if taught from the childhood , these good habits  will become a second nature to them later in the life.

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