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Good hygiene is a crucial part of living a healthy lifestyle through every stage of one’s life. Parents are responsible for first taking care of a child’s hygiene needs, and when the child’s age allows, they are responsible for teaching them how to do it themselves. A part of teaching children about good hygiene is to explain why it is important. Children should understand that good hygiene not only affects their appearance, but it also reduces the risk of infection, the spread of illness, and even the spread of parasites. Cleanliness is also beneficial on a social level, as it eliminates body odors. By teaching children the importance of good personal hygiene and what it involves, parents are establishing a habit that will benefit their kids for the rest of their lives.
The first step in teaching children about hygiene is to start with the basics, such as washing one’s hands and bathing one’s body. Dirty hands cause numerous avoidable health and sanitation problems. Children often rub their eyes, put their hands in their mouths, and touch items that others use. They also regularly come into contact with unclean items throughout the day, whether it is at school, on the playground, in the backyard, in the house, or in the bathroom. They should be taught to wash their hands using warm water and soap, rubbing them together for no less than 20 seconds. A fun way to ensure that children wash their hands long enough is to teach them to sing “Happy Birthday” twice before rinsing the soap off in warm water.
Children should be taught to take a bath on a daily basis, although children who have not reached puberty may bathe less frequently depending on their activities. Parents should not assume that their child knows how to properly bathe, and instruction should be given on how to bathe according to one’s gender. Kids must also be taught how to properly shampoo and rinse their hair. The frequency of hair-washing depends on a number of factors, such as age, hair type, and certain activities. For example, younger children’s hair may be washed once or twice weekly, while older kids with oily or straight hair should shampoo daily or every other day. Children with extremely curly or dry hair may shampoo roughly once every seven days. Kids should shampoo more frequently if they’ve been swimming or participating in activities that result in excessive sweating.
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In life, a person only gets one set of permanent teeth. That’s why it is so important for parents to impress upon their children the importance of oral hygiene. This starts with teaching them proper brushing techniques. Kids generally have the motor skills needed to brush their own teeth around the age of six or seven. Equip them with an appropriately sized toothbrush and demonstrate the up-and-down, back-and-forth movements of brushing one’s teeth. Supervision is critical when they are first learning to do so to prevent them from swallowing or eating the toothpaste or using too much. Children younger than 7 years old may start learning dental hygiene techniques by watching their parents brush their teeth. This should be done twice daily and between meals. Once a day, parents should educate children about removing plaque, food particles, and debris from their gum line by flossing. Again, older children should possess the ability to do so and supervision is only initially necessary.
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The need for good hygiene typically increases as a child reaches puberty and enters their teenage years. At this time, hormones and other body chemicals kick into high gear. This can result in increased sweating, for example, which raises the risk of unfavorable body odors and the need for more frequent bathing. Some may notice that their hair and skin also becomes oilier, which can result in acne. Although teens are already tending to their hygiene needs, parents will need to explain these changes to them and let them know that it is a normal part of growing up. Teens will also need to be introduced to deodorants and antiperspirants to reduce underarm odor and wetness. The need to shave may also become a new problem. Another change occurs for teenage girls, who will begin menstruating for the first time. Proper hygiene is crucial to help them remain fresh and reduce unpleasant odors. Because of the changes that occur in both male and female teens, they must also properly wash their clothing and change into clean underwear and socks on a daily basis.
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