We’ve come up with some ideas to help to encourage children to get into good habits as far as hygiene is concerned.
As all good parents know, nothing works quite like a little bribery – like an ice-cream after the dentist. The same applies when we’re teaching them about hygiene. Simply reward them for getting it right.
With young children, teach them to wash behind their ears and dry between their toes. You can make this fun by tickling their toes while you show them how it’s done. It’ll feel less like an order and should entice them to do it themselves. Remind them for a few days and then leave them to it. Consider buying an age-appropriate book about general self-awareness and self-respect for bedtime reading – it’ll boost morale and reinforce what you’ve taught them.
Try colouring-in together and talk to them about cleanliness. Ask them what they think, and if they like the smell of their sheets when they’ve been washed for instance. Make it a game. You don’t want to discourage kids from good old-fashioned dirt from outdoor playtime so tread lightly.
Second- and third-graders can get pimples, body odor, and other hygiene-related “yucks” you might not have been expecting yet because the average age of puberty has decreased by about six months to two years for boys and girls in the last couple of decades. While the first signs now typically start around age 9 or 10, 7- to 8-year-olds are on the early end of the range. Even if your child isn’t showing any hints of puberty yet, this is still the prime age to start transferring responsibility for body care over to her.
If your child has started to sweat during gym class or when he’s nervous, it’s probably time to make deodorant part of his morning routine. Ask him if he’s noticed that he’s sweating more, tell him that’s normal as he gets older and that deodorant will help cover up the odour. Typical deodorants are safe for children this age, but you can always choose one with natural ingredients
As they start maturing and hitting their teens, it’s time for the underarm charm to kick in and some attention to intimate hygiene as their hormones wreak havoc and cause body odour. Make them aware of the fact that it is polite to consider others and that we seldom smell our own stink but others do. They should also get into the habit of wearing socks with sneakers or washing them regularly. Reward teens with praise but don’t overdo it unless you’re up for the obligatory eye-roll! Maybe screentime is a better bet!
As adults, perhaps its best to demonstrate what we mean by walking the talk. Brushing teeth well twice a day, flossing, wearing clean clothing, washing our skin and hair and always looking presentable. Changing towels and bedlinen and keeping our bathrooms and toilets clean also demonstrate the point.