Teaching your child good hygiene starts with practicing what you preach, and rewarding the child for inculcating clean habits.
It is time for your child to go back to school. While your heart almost breaks with the thought of your child growing up so fast, it also sinks when you realise how grubby your child is going to get at school. A worm in the mud, a hiding place in a corner of the school, a tiny fish in a puddle…if your child sees something new, you can be certain he will stick his hand in it. You can’t rob him of his curiosity, but you can teach him good hygiene habits.
1 Do not compromise on basic cleanliness. Set the ground rules when your child is very young: insist that your child washes his hands and feet on entering the house. He cannot be allowed to eat or even go to his room till he has washed his hands with soap. Let your child see you head straight for the wash basin and hand soap after returning from work. Children learn by imitation, and you could encourage the practice by getting your child his own little soap dispenser.
2 Promise a treat for being clean. Your child must keep both his body and his room neat and tidy. Insist on your child putting his books and toys away, and to clean his toys using a mild soap (under your supervision). You could work out a system where if your child keeps his room organised and clean (bedspread neatly put away, toys, books, clothes and shoes in their places) you take him out to the movies or the amusement park over the weekend.
3 Teach your child how to use hygiene products. You cannot be responsible for the habits of other children in your child’s school. But you can teach your child how to use personal hygiene products. Put a packet of hand wipes and sanitizer in his bag, and teach him to use both the products. Insist on him using both after meals and if there is a sick child in the class.
4 Keep a close watch on your child’s skin and hair health. Your child will go back to school and return with head lice or a skin rash. These may not be immediately apparent, but you must be on the alert for unusual head and body scratching, as also complaints of itching and ‘something walking in my hair’. Take immediate action if you see head lice or skin infections before they spread all over the house.
5 Suggest a child hygiene programme for school. You could speak with your child’s principal and suggest that the school arrange for fun and interactive hygiene education programmes for their students. Children learn faster in a classroom setting with their peers and are less likely to forget information when they are interested in the material.