Work with your children from a young age to teach them healthy habits in the bathroom, kitchen, nursery and bedroom. Children learn how to be clean from watching you so set a good example, but don’t forget to make keeping clean enjoyable. Teaching cleanliness and personal hygiene with games, songs and activities helps the message stick.
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Every toddler needs to learn the proper way to brush their teeth but some will actively resist the process. Set a regular brushing teeth routine but keep it upbeat. Make up stories about fighting “sugar bugs,” use a musical timer to ensure your kids are brushing for the right amount of time, or sing a tooth brushing song such as the short tune on the BBC website. Having kids choose their own toothbrush with a favourite character makes brushing their teeth a more attractive proposition.
Good hand hygiene in preschoolers helps stop the spread of colds, tummy bugs and other common infections. Get your child into the hand washing habit by creating a wall chart that children fill in when they wash their hands. Give a reward when the chart is full or at the end of the week. The Global Handwashing Day website provides a variety of printable resources such as wall charts, stories, colouring books, games and posters for the daycare centre. Or download a hand washing song and sing it with your kids, miming the actions.
Songs are also effective for teaching kids the importance of tidying up after a day of play. If children put their toys away before the end of the song, they get a sticker or other small reward. Groups of preschoolers can play a game called Lucky Litter where the teacher or parent secretly picks one piece of rubbish on the floor to be lucky, and whoever picks it is the winner after everything is tidied up.
Teach little children the importance of bath time by filling the bath with toys, floating objects, bath books and kids’ bubble bath. You can use household objects for floating and pouring water. Set up a toy race in the bath, make music with waterproof objects, and play with toys to see if they sink or float. Talk to your child about why it’s good to wash themselves in the bath and play at being hairdressers to encourage him or her to enjoy having their hair washed.
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- Nanny Needed: 10 tips for parents of kids who resist having their teeth brushed
- BBC: Nursery rhymes and songs: Brush your teeth
- NHS: Wash your hands: Hand Washing for Kids - A Childs Guide to Hand Hygiene
- Global Handwashing Day: Participate in global handwashing day
- Carex: Hand washing songs
- Teaching Ideas: Tidy up song
- Tesco Baby Club: Bathing your toddler
- Vosene: How to make bath time fun