Creating Healthy Hygiene Habits in Your Kids: Tips and Tricks
Being a parent is full of hilarity. I find myself saying “Really?” and laughing to myself often. Watching them grow into themselves and navigate interactions with their friends and their freedom as they get older is quite entertaining and rewarding.
As my 8-year-old has gotten older, she has a lot of new responsibilities. More homework this year than ever, her chore list has grown and so have her friendships around our home, she is eager to get everything done so she can go play.
With all this new stimulation and activities, hygiene has seemed to take the backburner. She is so eager to move on to the next task that she does not want to spend the time on brushing her teeth or bathing. She would moan when I told her she needed to take a shower before bed and sometimes would stand in front of the sink instead of actually brushing her teeth. That last part was one of those, “really?” moments.
Asking her multiple times to actually brush her teeth and having a very serious conversation about what constitutes a lie only got so far. She really was not happy about having to take the time to maintain healthy hygiene and I was not happy about having to repeat myself time and time again… so I stopped. I am firm believer that if something is not feeding you, change it – and this routine was feeding neither of us. Finding ways to remind her without me having to ask over and over was key to saving my sanity and both of our time.
The other key, like the most things with kids, is finding ways to make the task less of a chore and more of a game. Here are some of the things that made my life a little bit easier during our family’s morning and evening routines.
1. Lists – Charts
I consider myself a pretty organized individual. I keep a calendar and a “to do” list for pretty much everything so I figured why not take that same concept and make it work for my little one. I found some paper that was decorated with fun colors in my craft space and typed up her daily chores with three sections: morning, after school & before bed. I tacked it on her wall and wah- lah, simple and easy.
This was so extremely helpful. It created a solid routine for the busiest times of the day. Another great place for visual tools is in the bathroom. Reminders to “brush your teeth” and “wash your hands.” I found some great printables online that look super cute and can be framed and added to the bathroom decor. The bathroom in our house is very much a child’s domain. Bright colors and bath toys aplenty creating a safe, cheerful atmosphere.
2. Toothpaste and Brush
Another reason my daughter disliked brushing her teeth was the toothpaste. She said the mint flavor was “hot.” So we went and chose a new flavor together as well as a new toothbrush.
Letting her make the choice of what toothpaste and toothbrush she would use seemed to give her a better sense of ownership and interest in the whole process. Also now that she had her brand new electric Spider-Man toothbrush she was excited to try it out! Excited! Now we were getting places.
3. Timer or Song
At first, we used a cute little timer we found at the dollar store. It worked great, set the timer for a few minutes and when you hear the high pitched ‘DING!’ the kiddos know they can rinse and finish getting ready for the day or bedtime. The timer’s loud ding did become a bit obnoxious after a while when my daughter decided it was a noise maker/toy instead.
So if your child is as entertained by the timer as mine was, and it kicks the bucket, try a song. Have your kiddo pick one of their favorite songs, (my daughter really loves Lindsey Sterling so she went with one of her songs) and play it through. Once the song is over they can be done! Most songs are 2-3 minutes which is just the right amount of time to get those teeth cleaned.
Kids love to be read to. As they get older and they are learning to read, bedtime is also a great time for them to show off their skills and read to you too. Purchase a few kids books that talk about hygiene and turn them into bedtime stories. My daughter loves story time before bed, and if she gets the added bonus of learning something new that she can take with her to school and tell her friends about she is even more excited. As an added bonus she now reads the books aloud and is proud to show off her newly brushed teeth, washed hair or hands just like whatever character we were reading about that evening.
These were the most effective ways in which my family was able to tackle the heavy sigh and/or constant need to repeat myself. None of them took much time or effort and the kids have fun with them. Hopefully, these are as fun and helpful for your family as they were for mine.