We all understand the importance of hygiene. But how do we communicate its value to our kids, and how do we make sure that they prioritize it in their day to day lives?
Clearly, the responsibility of teaching good hygiene habits to our children rests with us parents.
A child’s first school is his or her home as children learn a lot from their parents. So, if you teach them something, do it gently and empathetically, so that their learning happens without any embarrassment.
For example, if they blow their nose and throw snot all around, you don’t yell “That’s so gross!” or “How disgusting is that!” at them! Instead, you go about it compassionately. You can even make jokes while wiping your child’s snot-covered face, or, for some extra TLC, put a tissue packet inside a cute colorful pouch your child might adore.
Here are some tips to teach your child good hygiene habits in a positive and reassuring manner – without using any force or embarrassing them.
1. Lead by Example
Telling something to your kids and demonstrating it by doing it yourself has a different impact. Just encouraging your kids to do the right things, such as eating right, exercising or limiting screen time, is not good enough to instill healthy habits in them.
One has to lead by example. You can become a role model for them. When you want to teach them a basic hygiene habit, do it yourself and show them how it’s done. They will pick up the habit themselves, inspired by you! Children are more likely to meet guidelines if parents are giving active, engaged support, confirms a behavioral study
2. Practice Together
The foundation of effective parenting lies not just in leading by example, but also by doing things together. Observing a parent and learning to behave is one aspect of forming good habits, but parents often have to go beyond that. Why not practice together?
That’s because a parent’s interaction with their child literally impacts their child’s brain development. Shaming and embarrassing a child, which is often an accepted parenting tool for controlling kids, may not result in positive outcomes.
For example, if your child follows poor hygiene practice, humiliating him or her won’t work. Comparisons to siblings or other kids, or mocking them won’t do the trick either. Treat them with respect and see the difference!
Therefore, instead of lecturing children on good and bad habits, if you practice good hygiene together, your kids will unconsciously pick it up from you. For example, wash hands together after a meal or brush your teeth together before going to bed. They will make it part of their habit even without you telling them to do so.
3. Play Hygiene Games
Yes, you can use fun and games to teach hygiene to children!
For example, take the glitter pass-along game to show to your children how germs that can make us sick exist everywhere!
In this game, put some glitter on your child’s hand and then have them do some activities such as opening the doors, playing with toys, coloring, or grabbing an apple. Once the activity is completed, retrace your child’s steps and show her how much glitter was left behind at every spot of activity.
After finishing the demo, help your child wash her hands. What does she learn? Tell her to imagine that the little flecks of glitter are tiny germs. Just like germs, the glitter sticks everywhere, and if not washed properly, they will stick to our hands and bodies and make us sick!
4. Make It Cute
As human beings, we are all programmed to love cute things and lose control when we see them. This “cute aggression” has a basis in science. And it is not limited to adults only. The same goes for children.
While we adults have the urge to squeeze the chubby cheeks of a cute child when we spot one, the child, in turn, easily develops a bond with cutely-shaped things or objects.
Why not use this instinct to instill hygienic habits in them? For example, if you want them to disinfect their hands before they eat in school, give them cute and small disinfectant bottles to carry along, attached to their school bags. Those bottles might even be available with their favorite cartoon characters on them.
If you want to get your child into the habit of bringing a packet of tissue, give it to her in a colorful pouch. She will love it and guard it jealously! She will use it when she coughs or sneezes or needs to wipe her hands or face. More importantly, a packet of Kleenex Facial Tissue, for instance, is proven to be 4x cleaner than her hand or a hanky.
Moms and Dads, good hygiene is the key to healthy living and performing well in life. We are sure that the above tips will help your kids adopt hygienic habits with an open heart and a smiling face.