Teaching Proper Hygiene

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Hygiene is a learned behaviour although most children do show a desire to stay clean. From a very young age, you should actively work to teach your children healthy habits both by example and by demonstration. Most of what your child learns, he gathers by watching you. His learning in many cases is almost cemented by the time he can speak in complete sentences, so early examples and acquired knowledge will be your most powerful weapon in teaching proper hygiene.

Lead by Example

Your child will almost never have proper hygiene if you don’t. Wash your hands before meals and after using the restroom or playing outside. Go a bit over the top singing a little song to be sure you’re washing up long enough. If you repeat the same procedure throughout your little one’s childhood, someday you’ll catch him singing the little song as he washes up, too.

Talk to your child about what you’re doing and include him in your routines. Bring him with you to the bathroom every morning as you brush your teeth and brush his as well. Do everything correctly for his benefit, even if you don’t think he can understand yet. Not only will you develop improved hygiene yourself, you’ll also be laying a proper foundation for his hygiene down the road.

Speak Your Thoughts

The most powerful method of instructions parents can use is speaking your thoughts while you set a good example. This means that you actually say out loud what you are thinking. For example, after you sneeze, rather than just grabbing a tissue, talk to yourself or your child explaining your action. “Goodness! I need to wipe my nose with a tissue after a sneeze like that, and then I should wash my hands.”

By telling your child what you’re thinking he’s learning what he should be thinking in the same instance. This creates a lasting inner monologue that may very well stay with him the rest of his days. After all, most adults still have phrases and patterns that pop into their heads that sound just like their own parents.

Take Control

Take control of your child’s hygiene by leading him through the proper steps. Wash his face and hands before a meal and afterwards. At first you might do this in the high chair and later using a stool to reach the sink. Brush your infant’s first tooth and gums and later help your toddler develop a tooth brushing routine of his own.

Lead your child through the steps of the restroom even if potty training is still a long way off. In a public restroom especially he can wash his hands with you after using the facilities. This engrains good habits and ensures he doesn’t gather any germs while out.

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