Hygiene is one of the most important things to teach your child. Not only is it vital to good health and cleanliness, but it’s a chore they tend to avoid like the plague. Take my boys for example. They are 6 and 8 years old. Every night before bed, I run down a list of healthy hygiene habits; did you brush your teeth? Wash your hands? Have a shower? Immediately, their eyes glaze over and a robot answers yes to each question. It is only when I throw in “dye your hair blue?” that they snap out of it. For kids, hygiene is a pain in the butt. They think that because they had a shower a week ago they should be good for another week. They don’t understand the importance or consequences of this repetitive action. It isn’t until the opposite sex starts taking notice, that hygiene habits such as showering, brushing teeth and deodorant become of the utmost importance.
Should you sit back and wait until the teenage years kick in? Heavens no! Creating habits earlier on in life cause things like personal hygiene to become routine and a breeze! After awhile your children will automatically engage in personal hygiene routines without even thinking about it! Here are a few ways that I have come up with to keep my boys sweet smelling without all the yelling and arguments.
1. Visual Reminders – This is one of the techniques that work best with my kids. In each bathroom, we have a list of the things they need to do. i.e. wash hands, brush teeth, etc. We place the list on the mirror or by the light switch, somewhere they will notice it every time they use the facilities. This really helps to remind them to add these tasks to their daily routine.
2. The Smell Test – This is my Mom’s technique! The boys ALWAYS forget to wash their hands! It drives me nuts! So one time my kids went to the washroom, my mom asked if they had washed their hands. Automatically, they say yes. When she asked to smell the soap on them, they dash quickly back to the washroom, she knows they have forgotten. It is amazing how often they remember to wash their hands, now that the smell test is in motion.
3. Leading by Example – I have always believed in the old saying “Monkey See, Monkey Do”. Have you ever seen a boy take bubbles and put them on their face in the bathtub, then attempt to ‘shave’ them off with another toy? Kids love pretending to be their Mommy or Daddy and feel important or grown up if they are engaging in tasks that their parents do. By showing your kids different aspects of your personal hygiene routine, you are encouraging them to do the same.
4. Reward system – One of our more successful techniques in helping the kids develop great hygiene was to use a well-timed reward. We developed a point system as way for the boys to earn their way to a special treat. Every time they remembered to perform one of the required tasks of washing hands, brushing teeth etc. we awarded a point. At the end of the week the points could be redeemed for a treat or saved up for the entire month and get one big treat, like the latest toy or video game. It turned out to be a great way to keep the boys motivated!
5. Routine – Children thrive on routine! Since they were babies, my kids have followed the same routine night after night. We finish dinner, play, shower, brush teeth, stories and bed. Incorporating personal hygiene tasks into an already established routine allows it become part of their daily life.
Each child is different. Play around with a few techniques and find out what works for you, your lifestyle and your child! If you are consistent and persistent, you are sure to be successful!!
You can find Jenn and her crazy crew over on her blog, 1Heart1Family, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Jenn is a working mom to two amazing boys and one Princess. 1Heart1Family is a blog about raising children, life with celiac disease, delicious Gluten Free recipes and helpful product reviews to help you survive the crazy journey called parenthood!