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Kids don’t like cleanliness. At least, not all of it.
One kid loves brushing teeth, but hates brushing her hair. Another kid refuses to wash his hands, but has no problem soaking in the shower for an hour at a time.
No two kids handle hygiene the same. The problem is- all kids have to do all of the steps to proper hygiene. There’s no skipping brushing teeth just because Jimmy doesn’t like it!
So how is a parent supposed to create a positive atmosphere around necessary activities… that the child detests???
Here are 6 “mom secrets” that help with any hygiene routine—- and stay tuned for specific ideas for hair brushing, tooth brushing, hand-washing, and bath time!
1) Monkey See, Monkey Do
Usually parents get up and get ready before the kids do. That’s the only way to get them out the door, because they need you coaxing them along every step of the way as they get ready, right?
The problem with this is that young kids don’t see that you go through the exact same hygiene routine as the child is expected to go through. There’s no example, it’s not relatable. Mom is just magically clean all the time.
Look for opportunities to get ready alongside your child- especially on weekends when there is less of a time crunch- so that the child can see you doing all the same cleanliness tasks that they do.
2) Fake That Smile
If you want your kid to be positive about the morning/evening routine, you’ve got to be positive about it too! Even if it’s not a real smile, this is a great time to “fake it til you make it.”
How could a child possibly get excited to go brush his teeth if he hears mom say things like, “Oh no, it’s time to brush teeth! I hate this time of night. It’s always so awful! Well, here we go…”
Compare that to, “Oh yay, it’s time to brush teeth! Woo hoo! Toothpaste tastes like candy. I love it.”
3) Always, Always, Always
Never let up on the hygiene routine! First of all, it’s healthy to brush teeth, take baths, and wash hands.
Second of all, consistency creates structure for the child. If you break that structure, they are more likely to act out because the tasks seem optional. “Why should I have to wash my hands before dinner tonight when I didn’t have to yesterday?”
4) Your Turn!
Take advantage of independent streaks or stages.
Yes, your toddler’s extreme independence can be a blessing! Some aversions to hygiene could be because mom usually helps with those things… a lot. If you have a strong willed child or a child who is going through an independent phase, that’s opposite of what that child is seeking.
Help them out by giving them lots of chances to try each part of the routine on their own. It might take a little longer, but it has a lot of potential to cut down on tantrums or frustration.
5) This or This?
Some kids might struggle with hygiene routines because they are mandatory. It’s not easy to be told that you HAVE to do something, no matter what. Nobody wants to be told what to do!
You can help out with this by offering as many little choices as you can within the tasks themselves.
IE- You must brush your teeth. That’s not a choice. But you can have a choice in what toothpaste you want to use today!
Anything you can do to make hygiene routines more exciting will increase cooperation. That’s why Disney makes so much money off of Princess shampoo and Superhero toothbrushes. They’re fun, and kids are more likely to try something that is fun.
Batman Themed Hygiene Kit (Click the image below!)
Here’s more creative ideas to increase the fun aspect of hygiene:
- Talk It Up: Tell kids all of the good things that will happen when they are clean! They look pretty or handsome, kids like to play with clean kids, their body is healthy, etc.
Here’s some great children’s books to teach kids about the importance of hygiene.
Click on the images below!
Don’t Get Sick! How Kids Can Keep Healthy and Safe – Good Hygiene for Kids – Children’s Disease Books
Smelly Melly: Personal Hygiene for Kids and Little Monsters
Hygiene Heroes! My Personal Hygiene Book :: Kids Hygiene Book. WE CAN TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES! WE CAN DO IT! HOW ‘BOUT YOU?
- Visual Aids: Make cute, brightly-colored charts to show the child what’s coming up next! It will help them stay on track, and they’re fun to use!
Click the images below!
- Apps/Games: There are TONS of apps and games to engage kids in hygiene routines. Here’s a few great ones to try out!
- Earn Rewards: Create a rewards system. Maybe a child can earn a fun experience- like staying up one hour past bedtime, or choosing a special movie from Redbox, or feeding the ducks at the park.
Click on the images below!
There you have it- our tips for hygiene in general. It’s time to get more specific.
Making Hair Brushing Easier:
-During bath time, put the conditioner in the child’s hair and use this as a chance to brush the child’s hair. Conditioner naturally detangles and softens hair, making it easier and less painful to brush.
-When brushing hair, start with the bottom inch of hair. Brush it out until there are no more tangles in the bottom inch. Then, move up another inch. When that section of hair has no tangles, move up another inch, and another inch, and another inch. This makes tangles less painful to brush through.
-Flip hair over your head and brush the underside of the hair first. This section of hair can be particularly tangled, so brushing it out first and then brushing the top layer of hair can decrease pain during brushing.
-For more amazing tips, check out The Secret to Brushing Your Little Girl’s Hair without Tears!
Making Tooth brushing Easier:
-Choose the correct size of brush.
-Sing a song like the ABC’s or Twinkle, Twinkle. The child has to brush as long as mom is singing. This is a good way to help the child learn to brush thoroughly instead of rushing through tooth brushing.
-Use this Baby Alive Teeth Brushing Doll (Click the image below!) to practice first. You can show the child how they will need to brush all of their teeth. Once the child has seen the baby doll do it, it is their turn!
-For more great tips, check out Make Teeth Brushing Fun with 6 Easy Tips!
Making Hand Washing Easier:
-Sing a song like the ABC’s or Happy Birthday. The child has to scrub his hands as long as mom is singing.
-Be silly- Use a crazy narrator voice to give a play-by-play of what the child is doing. “Tom is reaching for the soap, reaching, reaching…. He’s got the soap!! Now he’s scrubbing, But can he get those hands clean?? We’ll see- the anticipation is too much!”
-For more great ideas, check out Hand Washing 101!
Making Bath Time Easier:
-Use this Little Mommy Bath Time Doll (Click on image below!) to practice first. You can show the child how they will need to put soap in their hair, then rinse out the soap. Once the child has seen the baby doll do it, it is their turn!
-Be silly- Use crazy voices to name all the parts of the body (hands, arms, elbows, armpits, tummy, legs, knees, feet….) as you wash them.
-For more tips, check out How to Make Bathtime Fun for Kids
I hope these tips make life a little easier for you mama!
Always remember that your efforts are worth it! If your little one can enjoy hygiene now, he’ll enjoy a long life of health.
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