Children like to learn, explore, and imitate everything they see. As a result, parents are very important role models. In order for children to grow up healthy and strong, good hygiene habits should be promoted for children to be healthy, both physically and emotionally. Parents should encourage and support their children to follow these good hygiene habits:
Children should be encouraged to clean their teeth at least twice a day, preferably after each meal. It is not easy because most little children don’t like to clean their teeth. However, it is very important to keep the teeth, body and hair clean. Parents can encourage their children to brush their teeth by showing them videos on teeth brushing tips or singing teeth brushing songs. By imitating, the children will brush their teeth, like the children in the video or like their parents. Instead of forcing them to brush their teeth, parents should make brushing their teeth fun for them, and slowly train them to accept and even enjoy brushing.
Parents should encourage their children to wash their hands often, especially before eating and after using the bathroom, so as to kill any harmful germs. This is especially important for small children as they often put their fingers into their mouths almost constantly. The following graphic provides the six steps of effective hand washing:
Potty training or toilet training should be started at the age at which each child appears to be ready. Most children are ready to start when they are between 22 to 30 months of age or even older, but every child is different. As such, establishing daily routines is essential. Parents often worry when their children refuse toilet training. Sometimes this is because the training was started too early and the children are ready. Also, some parents get frustrated by toilet training problems. For example, when children refuse to be toilet trained, the mother might get angry and unknowingly add pressure an already sensitive situation. Parents should wait until a child displays more readiness to be toilet trained (e.g., showing an interest in toilets, beginning to pull off their diapers and being able to communicate with an adult that he or she wants to go to the toilet). Children respond well to positive reinforcement and praise for good efforts. Establishing daily routines during this time is essential and through positive reinforcement, parents can further encourage their children, during this important time.
The Second Class Honors M.D., Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University, 2000.