Promoting good personal hygiene habits does more than protect children from the threat of germs and disease. It also helps keep them looking and smelling clean and fresh, and promotes their general health.
Children must be taught very early in life that cleanliness is next to Godliness. The first task a pre school child has to master is hand washing. Hand washing is of critical importance because young children who take care of their toilet needs, play with sand and other material which can be messy have the high chance of coming in contact with dirt and thereby germs… these germs lead to infections later on… as hands are frequently used by little ones for all of their needs.
The little children in their hurry to get to their tasks often rush through the process by not spending even 10 secs at the tap. The adults must encourage the child to see hand washing as a fun exercise. They can be taught to blow soap bubbles by cupping their hands, and they need to be told to blow at least 6 soap bubbles, this will make the child wash and blow for a minimum of 2 mins. Added to this the adults must explain to the child in the form of a story how germs spread and cause diseases. Hand washing should be mandatory after using the bathroom, before eating, after playing outside, after sneezing, or after petting the dog/cat.
Children must be taught to cover their mouths when they cough and sneeze, and to use a tissue/hanky (rather than their shirt /frock sleeve) when they need to wipe their nose or mouth. This can be done through an action song set to the tune of “Here we go around the Mulberry Bush, Mulberry Bush… This is the way we wipe our nose, wipe our nose… ”. Every rule of thumb for personal hygiene if woven with a song or story registers in the child’s mind.
In this vein, dental hygiene is an important part of personal hygiene. We need to teach young children the importance of brushing their teeth at least twice a day. Tooth brushing should be integrated into both the morning and bedtime routines through simple stories and role modeling of adults at home
Poo poo pee pee… or susu kaka… could beset to tune as “poo poo pee pee susu kaka if I do I’ll tell mama /I’ll tell papa”has to be sung and made a fun act, when the child soils his/ her inner wear. The child must be confident to communicate to the parents and the adults must at no point refuse to attend to the child. To add insult to injury the adult must not remove the innerwear totally to save himself the trouble of cleaning, this will lower the esteem of the child to no end and will also foster a sense of shame which will impact him later on in life. Toilet training must be sensitive and gentle and tuned to the child’s readiness.
We must encourage the child by doing the following
Start potty training during a stress free time in your child’s life, not just as he is leaving for school,
Give enough time for the child to transition from a diaper/training pants to a regular innerwear
Avoid punishing the child for having accidents while you are potty training
Avoid relying on the same potty training methods for your kids just because someone else was successful, which unfortunately, may not work if your kids have very different temperaments
Let us hence help the child by
Encourage hand washing before/after meals and play
Sneeze into a hanky or a tissue
Carry an extra pair of clothes including innerwear
Brush their teeth twice
Take a shower at least once a day
When you are raising a child with a sense of good personal hygiene, your are preparing him/her for life; to love and take care of himself/herself.