Let’s face it; stinky armpits, greasy hair, and bad breath are not going to help a child win any popularity contests. Health risks aside, poor hygiene can lead to name-calling and bullying which can damage a child’s self-esteem for years. Establishing good personal hygiene habits from an early age, without expecting too much, is one of the best things you can do as a parent. Be watchful for the two stages in your child’s life when personal hygiene needs particular attention.
As soon as your child cuts her first teeth it is time to start brushing twice a day. Most dentists recommend that parents assist children with brushing until they are at least seven. Until then, they say, children are not capable of reaching all the places they need to. Use a soft brush designed for milk teeth.
Initially your child won’t realize he’s about to sneeze, but he will soon learn to cover his mouth and nose, especially if you make a game out of it. Wash your hands after handling pets, before touching food, and both before and after using the toilet. Help your youngster do the same to make this routine as natural as breathing.
Bath time is also a great opportunity for playing games. Teach your kids the names of all their body parts as their language develops, and give them lots of toys to play with. Children can gradually take over more of the cleaning tasks as they mature. Use non-sting shampoo and a gentle soap or body wash. Uncircumcised boys need to be taught to wash under the foreskin. If you have a girl, teach her to wipe from front to back when toilet training to prevent urinary tract and other infections. Most children enjoy the bath, although sometimes you may find your kid resisting bath time. This is usually because it is interrupting something he is busy with, he feels cold, or he is testing boundaries
Try to have hygiene routines well in place before your child starts school. Starting school exposes your child to a whole new world of viruses and bacteria ready to attack his immune system. Keep an eye out for worms (an itchy bottom and trouble sleeping are common signs of infestation) and any skin infections.
Teaching children healthy personal hygiene routines is as important as teaching them to read and write. The habits they learn as children will stay with them into adulthood and make them happier, healthier people.
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