Preschool kids tend to share everything with one another – from toys, to chairs, and even germs. This is why it is imperative to teach them about personal hygiene early on.
Observing good personal hygiene not only ensures that children would stay neat, but also helps prevent the spread of infectious diseases. You see, people typically catch these illnesses through the orofacial route – the crevices above the neck such as the nose, mouth, and eyes. This makes younger children more susceptible to infection as they have yet to learn to avoid touching these parts of their bodies when their hands are unclean.
But teaching children who may not be old enough to understand the process of keeping oneself clean may not be as simple as you think. To make sure your little one learns the proper ways to stay hygienic, here are four tips for teaching preschoolers proper hygiene practices:
2. Wash Hands Together
Aside from getting messy, there’s one more thing that children in their preschool years are excellent at doing – copying their parents. Use this to your advantage by performing proper hygiene habits with your child.
Since his hands are the part of his body that often gets dirty, start with a simple hand washing routine. Show him how to do it and perform the task together.
Guide him through the process using the following step-by-step guide:
- Turn the tap on. Stick to cold water to be safe.
- Let him wet his hands before pumping the soap dispenser once.
- Show him how to lather up the soap by rubbing his hands. Make sure that he rubs his hands thoroughly – front, back, and in between the fingers.
To make sure that the process lasts the ideal 20 seconds, ask him to sing the “Happy Birthday” song with you. You can also pick any song he’s familiar with instead, so long as it lasts at least 20 seconds. At the end of the song, show him the proper way to rinse and dry his hands.
You can also encourage hand washing by having him use fruit-scented, bright-colored soap. Once he’s finished, give him a high five for a job well done.
Aside from teaching him the proper way of doing it, you must also explain why hand washing is a good practice in the simplest way possible. Tell him, “Washing hands with soap and water the way we did helps get rid of germs and dirt that could make you sick.”
It would also be better to list the instances when he needs to practice hand washing, especially before eating and after going potty. Also, don’t forget to offer frequent-but-gentle reminders that he needs to wash his hands after:
- Doing cleaning chores
- Playing with sand, riding a bike, and other outdoor activities
- Sneezing, coughing or blowing his nose
- Touching an animal or an insect
- Visiting a sick loved one or arriving home from the hospital
2. Practice Fun, Instructional Bathing
Taking a bath is another important personal hygiene practice to teach your little one. While he won’t be able to bathe by himself for several years, it would be best to teach him the basics as soon as he starts attending preschool.
Make bathing fun and offer a description of what you’re doing in the process. You can say, “Mama is putting soap on a washcloth to scrub your tummy with.”
After that, ask him to copy you and see if he can handle doing one step by himself. You can also have him wash his toys using the same process you use when you bathe him.
When rinsing his hair, ask him to lean back and close his eyes so that soap won’t get into them. Make sure that your child participates in the process actively. This way, you can encourage him to use his motor skills while maintaining good personal hygiene.
3. Let Him Try Brushing His Teeth on His Own
Kids may require help when brushing their teeth until eight years of age, but you must avoid making your child rely on you too much on this task. One way to do it is to avoid taking the toothbrush away if you observe that he’s about to pick it up.
Instead, let him try it out for himself. This way, you can encourage him and help him get comfortable with the task.
Like washing hands, you should also let your child know the purpose of brushing. While he may not understand a thing about cavities, you can simply say, “Brushing your teeth helps ensure that they look and feel good.”
Aside from taking him through the process, you should also encourage his participation by allowing him to pick out his favorite toothpaste and toothbrush. Then, allow him to “test drive” his new dental hygiene arsenal on his own (with your supervision, of course).
4. Demonstrate Proper Sneezing or Coughing Etiquette
Putting together a demonstration is the single best way to teach your child about proper sneezing or coughing etiquette.
Show him what you do when you feel a sneeze or cough coming on, and explain how you put the tissue over your nose and mouth to avoid spreading germs. You can also do a demo on the proper way of blowing his nose, with one nostril pressed close while gently exhaling on the other.
Of course, you shouldn’t expect your toddler to get the hang of these new practices right away. Instead of scolding him, pat him in the back for the effort even if it wasn’t successful. Say: “Good job for trying to catch that sneeze. I bet you’ll be able to get it next time.”
Begin at Home
Preschools help teach children a lot of things, but honing the practice of good hygiene needs to begin at home. Make sure that you serve as a good role model and explain to your little one its importance in a way he would understand.
Of course, you can always reach out to preschool teachers for help in instilling these basic-yet-crucial skills in your little one. Reach out to us at Child’s Play Nursery, so we can assist you in raising a healthy little angel.