We know that good personal hygiene is important. Our parents first taught us at home and then our teachers reinforced it at school. Good hygiene not only keeps our appearance neat, it also protects us from diseases caused by germs and bacteria or viruses.
But children can be careless — some more than others — when it comes to their personal hygiene. And if these bad habits are not corrected while they’re young, they will bring the bad behavior all the way to adulthood.
If that happens, they will regret not taking care of their bodies and suffer for it. While dealing with wisdom teeth is inevitable, not taking care of dental health can lead to unpleasant oral diseases that should have been prevented early on.
Why It Is Important to Teach Kids About Personal Hygiene?
Two important things about personal hygiene: better health and improved self-confidence.
Good hygiene helps prevent the spread of germs and bacteria that cause various diseases. Kids are prone to getting dirty especially during playtime. Their curious minds lead them to touch unclean surfaces and objects. And most of the time, they touch their faces with their dirty little hands and make them sick.
Proper hygiene also helps boost a child’s confidence by dealing with concerns about body odor and bad breath. When they’re aware that they’re not stinky, they feel better about themselves and are most likely to confidently interact with other kids and adults.
The basics of children’s personal hygiene are frequent hand washing, regular showers and baths, brushing and flossing of teeth, and covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze.
Fun Activities to Teach Kids about Personal Hygiene
A good way to teach kids about how germs easily spread is by covering your hands with washable paint and covering your mouth when you pretend to sneeze or cough. Then with your paint-covered hands, go about your business touching random stuff all over the house, leaving paint marks on those you’ve touched. The kids will then see your germ trail by the paint you left in your tracks. Have them find and count all the places where you left your germs behind.
This activity shows how fast and random germ transfer is.
Generally, kids don’t like washing their hands. They find it to be quite a chore. In most cases, they just give their hands a quick rinse under running water. That is if they even bother to do it at all.
A great way to teach kids is to sprinkle glitter on their hands and challenge them to wash it off using soap and water. Because glitter is hard to get off, it will take them about 20 to 30 seconds to scrub all the glitter germs away. Tell them that that’s how they should always wash their hands.
Give the classic game of charades a neat twist and use it to teach kids about good hygiene practices. Instead of the typical word choices, write down certain things related to personal hygiene and have the participants act out and guess the word. Take the opportunity to emphasize the importance of good hygiene whenever possible.
Good Habit, Bad Habit
A fairly simple, yet educational activity about personal hygiene is to write down several good and bad hygiene habits on pieces of paper. You can list down 10 good habits and 10 bad ones (the number will depend on how many you can think of) and fold the papers in half. Toss them all in a box and have your kids take turns drawing one. Instruct them to read aloud the habit written on the paper and say if it’s a good or bad habit.
A fun and effective way of teaching kids about different hygiene tools is with a matching game. Create two sets of cards — one containing pictures of different body parts and the other with images of different tools for personal hygiene. Lay them all face down and get the kids to flip the cards over and correctly match the right tool to the right body part. If they get the wrong match, they need to put the cards back face down until they all get the right matches.
It is said that if you train children while they are young, they will never depart from these behaviors as they grow older. Being able to openly talk to them about personal hygiene at their young age will help you manage the bigger personal hygiene challenges when they hit their puberty and teenage years.