Good Hygiene for Healthy Kids

Make sure your kids brush their teeth!As a mom of two tweens, I'm well-aware of the battles good hygiene habits can create. It's pretty much a given my 9-year-old son will attempt to race out the house each morning without brushing his teeth. And my nearly 12-year-old daughter would be perfectly content not showering for two days, despite her hair's lanky appearance. Hygiene? It's just not on the radar for either of them.

While peer pressure about grooming -- and the willingness to impress the opposite sex -- usually kicks in when kids become teens, younger children often don't see the point of good hygiene. That's why it's important to remind your kids daily about the importance of keeping themselves clean, and to make the entire process fun. The less of a chore it is, the less you'll have to nag. And I promise, your house will smell a lot better, too.

Here are some key hygiene areas your child should be aware of, and ways you can help encourage an interest in good grooming:

Daily showering
Why it's important -- Changing hormones, even for pre-teens, can cause your once sweet-smelling youngsters to take on some interesting odors. Cleansing the body daily can reduce these smells, and hopefully even head off potential acne problems.
How you can help -- Let your child select a body wash or shampoo that smells great and has an eye-catching bottle. Try offering shower mitts instead of washcloths, or providing new, fluffy towels for when they dry off. Even a shower radio can liven up the experience. In fact, you may have trouble getting them out.

Using deodorant
Why it's important -- Again, blame hormones. Some kids start developing body odor as young as 8 or 9, while others may not until the teen years. Stronger than just smelling 'dirty,' body odor can cause social issues at school, and frankly, create a stinky environment at home.
How you can help -- Pick up a few travel-sized samples of a variety of deodorants or anti-perspirants, until your child finds one he or she likes. If they have P.E. class at school, make sure to send some deodorant along, too.

Wearing clean clothes
Why it's important -- Well, this should go without saying. Still, my son thinks nothing of digging through his dirty laundry bin to find a favorite t-shirt, no matter what it smells or looks like. Kids should take notice when their clothes smell bad; if they don't, it's your job to point this out.
How you can help -- It sounds counter-productive, but teaching your kids how to do their own laundry may offer a personal incentive in wanting to wear clean clothes. Also, requiring all clean clothes to be hung and put away after being laundered may encourage kids to grab those items, instead of digging through a laundry bin for a favorite outfit.

Maintaining good hair care
Why it's important -- While over-washing hair can cause a dry, itchy scalp, under-washing isn't great, either. Dirty, lank hair not only looks unattractive, but the excess oil can cause scalp issues and even aggravate acne problems.
How you can help -- Make sure your child knows how to wash her hair. Provide a mild shampoo and explain how to loosen dirt at the scalp, then rinse clean. And also advise on how much conditioner to use; too much will just keep those locks looking oily.

Taking care of their teeth
Why it's important -- Sugary foods and drinks can not only cause decay, but poor oral hygiene can contribute to bad breath. If fear of the dentist isn't enough to encourage teeth brushing and flossing, possessing stinky breath might be a good motivator.
How you can help -- There are plenty of kid-friendly mouth rinses your child might enjoy. A new flavor of toothpaste, or even a battery-powered toothbrush, may also encourage better teeth time.

Kids and good hygiene don't always go together. From nighttime bath battles to 'forgetting' about teeth brushing, many kids seem perfectly happy to skip healthy hygiene habits completely. Teaching your kids the importance of some basic, self-care tasks will not only help them stay clean, but will keep them healthy now, and for a lifetime.

Content by Karen Kinsey.