5 Topics to Teach Kids About Hygiene

Here are 5 topics to teach kids about good health and hygiene.

Kids aren't often models of proper hygiene, but it's crucial that they learn the basics starting from a young age. Teaching your kids about personal hygiene helps keep their bodies clean and better protected from illness. It also helps to protect them from spreading germs to others.

As your kids get older and experience hormonal changes, their hygienic needs evolve. Before they hit that time, it's helpful if they already have a solid foundation of knowledge about the basics of good hygiene and how to take care of their bodies. Here are five topics to help you teach your kids about hygiene and keeping their bodies healthy.

Hands

Knowing how to wash your hands properly is enormously important. It's one of the simplest ways to protect yourself and others from getting sick. From a young age, encourage your kids to wash their hands and wash them thoroughly every time.

According to the CDC, that means scrubbing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. Not sure your kids will count to 20 in their heads every time? Teach them to sing a song that lasts that long or, as the CDC suggests, hum a tune like "Happy Birthday" twice in a row while you scrub to know you've hit at least 20 seconds.

Teeth

Maintaining clean and healthy teeth starting from a young age is key to long-term dental health. However, the issue for many parents is finding effective ways to get their kids to brush their teeth and do it well. Make brushing teeth in the morning and before bed part of your family's daily routine.

Choosing the right toothbrush for your kids is crucial. Young children might not be able to brush well enough with a regular toothbrush, so getting a power toothbrush for kids could help ensure that they are cleaning their teeth well each time. Some power brushes even come with a built-in timer which encourages you to brush for two full minutes, as is often recommended by dentists.

Skin

Skincare is major for kids of all ages, and being mindful of your skin starting from an early age can influence better skin health later in life. From a young age, get your kids wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Wearing sunscreen is especially important if your children will be playing outdoors on a sunny day, though it can even be worth wearing on not-so-sunny days. Don't forget to get them into the habit of re-applying sunscreen regularly, especially after getting wet. Regular use of sunscreen from a young age can help to protect your kids from significant skin problems in the future, namely skin cancer.

Another important aspect of skincare is face washing. While young kids might not have pimples yet, get them into a routine of washing their face once a day. Making it part of the routine can make it easier for kids to do when they need to, like when they are facing puberty and could have problems with acne. If your pre-teen or teen does have acne, encourage them not to feel stressed about it. As a parent, help your child to treat acne early and with the right products for their skin type. You may consider taking your preteen to see a dermatologist so that they can provide expert recommendations that can help your child keep their skin healthy. 

Bathing

With younger kids, you may be able to control better how often and how well they bathe. As they get older and take on the responsibility entirely on their own, it's important that they understand how bathing helps to keep their bodies clean and fresh.

Regular baths or showers should be encouraged as part of their routine. Kids who play sports that cause their bodies to sweat may bathe daily, while those who participate in less physically-intensive activities may get along with doing so every-other-day. Also, encourage your kids to take short showers. This means washing their hair, face, and body in only a few minutes. This saves water and can also help you save on your gas bill by not using as much hot water.

Coughing and sneezing

When a person coughs or sneezes without covering their nose or mouth, their germs go airborne and can even make those around them sick. Starting early on, teach your kids how to cough or sneeze into their elbows instead of into the air or their hands. Coughing or sneezing into our hands puts the germs there which can quickly spread to door knobs, cell phones, and other people's hands. Instead, doing it into your elbow is more likely to contain the germs to a space that won't be readily touched.

Be a good example

In everything you do as a parent, your kids are observing you, learning things you might not even know you're teaching them. As such, be an example of good hygiene for them. Make it part of your routine to help them build theirs. You can do things like brush your teeth or wash your faces together at the end of the day. Talk about feeling the need to shower to encourage them to have those same thoughts. Always sneeze and cough into your elbow so that they do the same. Be a model for them so they have more of a desire to care for their bodies, especially when you can't be there to offer the encouragement.