It cannot be overemphasized how important it is to start teaching your child healthy habits as early as possible. Teaching your child the reason behind your hygiene rules is equally essential. This is an exercise that is worth the while as it will stay with your child as he or she grows into an adult.
The key to successfully incorporating these hygiene habits into your child’s life is by teaching them how to perform, keeping the instructions simple, ensuring consistency, and reinforcing it time and again.
We enlist the most important hygiene habits you must instil in your little one.
Washing hands regularly
This is the most basic rule of hygiene. Inculcating this will not only help your child but also help maintain the health of your entire family. The days of the COVID pandemic have brought this simple act to the limelight.
Use simple terms that they’ll understand. Say, “Washing your hands means that we get rid of the dirt and germs that can make us sick.” Next, teach all the occasions when he should wash up—after going to the bathroom, when returning home from playing outside, after blowing his nose and before eating a meal.
You can turn on the water, pump the soap dispenser and lather up their hands with hand wash, including between the fingers, for 15 to 20 seconds (or the length of the ABCs or “Happy Birthday”). When you don’t have access to water, use hand sanitiser.
Covering their mouth
It is important to teach your little ones how to use a tissue, as well as how to cough and sneeze into their elbows so as to not spread germs. Say, “Remember, cover up those sneezes like this,” and show them how to do it. You can also practice coughing into his elbow when they are not sick. Show them how and encourage them to practice. Then, if they develop a cough, remind them, “Cough the germs into your elbow.”
Brushing teeth twice a day
Young children will need help getting their teeth properly cleaned. It is important to teach them to get in the habit of brushing their teeth twice a day and learn the steps: wet the brush, squeeze a bit of toothpaste, brush the teeth and tongue and then rinse with water.
You can make it into a game, let her try it out on your teeth. Then, say “My turn!” and try to get the brush in her mouth. You can even sing a toothbrushing song while brushing.
Bigger children should be taught to floss. Make it a habit to see the dentist regularly as well. It’s important for your child to know the dentist is there to help him keep his teeth healthy, not someone who is to be feared.
From a young age, it’s helpful for kids to know how to take care of their bodies. Let them play in the sun and outdoors as much as they can. Children have to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day
Don’t talk about weight and never say things like, “Don’t eat junk food or you’ll get fat.” Instead, keep the emphasis on developing a healthy growing body.
Eating healthy and well
Good healthy eating habits for kids are of utmost importance in the formative years. Teach your child the importance of eating the right food at the right time. Avoid feeding junk and sugary food your child. Make him aware of the ill effects of eating unhealthy food and help him in making the right food choices.
Sleeping on time
An adequate amount of sleep and rest is important to regain and replenish the energy levels in a child’s body. Good sleep helps the child feel rejuvenated and fresh for the day. Set a sleeping routine for your child and adhere to it. Irregular sleeping hours can make your child irritable and erratic.
You must inculcate the habit of personal hygiene in your child. It is important to encourage him to bathe on a daily basis and also after an active session of outdoor activities.
Tidying up their room
Kids love to be messy and litter, which is absolutely normal. But it is very important that as a parent, you inculcate the importance of cleanliness to your child. Train your kid to put his toys and other belongings back in their place and help him learn to be organised from the beginning. It also helps them to keep their environment clean and tidy as they grow into responsible adults.
Restricted screen time
In today’s technologically driven world, it is very important to teach this screen hygiene habit to your little one. Children who are exposed to unrestricted screen time suffer from various psychological, intellectual, and physical ailments. Hence, it is best to start this early in their lives to ensure they grow up into well-balanced adults.
Tips to make healthy habits interesting
- Practice makes you perfect- let your child practice these habits regularly
- Praise them when you catch them performing the hygiene habit
- When it comes to safety issues, make sure your child knows that the rules are non-negotiable.
- Take away privileges or use time-out when necessary.
- Help your kids set a routine and stick to a schedule.
- Get outside! Play together. Go on an adventure!
- Make time for family meals.
- Make healthy habits a family challenge!
- Most importantly, be a good role model. If your child sees you engage in healthy habits daily, he’ll be much more likely to do them.
Parenting comes with a whole lot of fun and responsibility too. Teaching good hygiene is of paramount importance. When your child understands the underlying reasons for your rules, he’ll be more likely to follow those rules when you’re not there to tell him what to do. These may be a little difficult to instil in a young child but the effort will not be wasted. Children who are taught these hygiene habits turn out to be well-rounded and healthy adults who can contribute to a better future.
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