Good hygiene is important for everyone, including children. They should be taught proper personal hygiene practices. Teaching hygiene to young children can be done in a fun way with games.
Defining Personal Hygiene
Personal hygiene is cleanliness of the entire body, including the face, hair, teeth and clothing. It means taking precautions not to spread germs by covering the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing and by cleaning things that one touches and disposing of things that might have germs, such as used tissues.
Face, Body, and Hair Hygiene
Having a clean face is vital. Of paramount importance is washing hands with clean water and soap to help prevent the spread of germs, especially after restroom use and before eating. Bathing the body daily is an important practice, as well. Those who don’t have a clean body and hair may emit an offensive appearance and odor to others and be judged harshly by that.
Children should brush and floss their teeth regularly. Brushing the teeth should be done twice a day, in the morning and again at night, but ideally after every meal, as well. Regular dental check-ups are important too.
Wearing clean clothing is essential. Children should wear clean clothes and change them daily, especially socks and underwear. Having a clean body is pointless if it is clothed in dirty smelly clothes.
Personal Hygiene Instruction
Promoting personal hygiene in young children starts with parents modeling hygiene themselves. An old Jewish proverb eloquently expresses the concept: “What the daughter does, the mother did.” Children can have fun learning about five of the more basic necessary hygiene practices with some of the games listed below.
Hand Washing Games
The Hot Potato Game with Soap: Children can play the hot potato game with a bar of soap as the potato. The children form a circle and, with music, keep passing the bar of soap to one another until the facilitator stops the music. The child holding the soap after the music stops must leave the circle. Resume the music and soap tossing and continue until only one child remains in the circle. That child is the winner and gets to be first to wash his hands. Line the children up at a sink and have each one, beginning with the winner, take his or her turn washing hands while everyone sings hand washing songs. The Happy Birthday song while washing is an option. It’s estimated that singing it 3 times is the time length necessary for thorough washing.
The Glitter Game: . Children love glitter. Sprinkle some on their hands and have them wash it off. This should take at least 30 seconds to rid their hands of the somewhat sticky glitter. Instruct them to always wash hands for at least 30 seconds each time, just as they did with the glitter.
Face Washing Game
The Make-up Game: This is a good way to teach little girls proper face washing. They can have fun applying Mom’s make-up on one another’s faces and then, with soap and a wash clothes, compete with one another to be the first to finish with a thoroughly clean face. Determine the winner by testing the face with a wet wipe for any traces of leftover make-up.
The Magic Colors Game: To make bath time more fun, put a few drops of food colors into ice-cube trays. Add water to the trays and freeze them. As the child is bathing and playing in the tub, he can drop in one of the colored ice cubes and observe the water gradually change color.
The Bathing a Doll Game: At bath time, give the child a favorite doll or action figure and have the child practice washing the doll’s body, including the face, hair, under-arms, the genital area and the doll’s bottom, in that order.
Brushing Teeth Games
The Tooth Decay Game: Snap a photo of the child smiling. Instruct him to use a brown washable marker to color his teeth in the photograph. Display the picture in the bathroom to serve as a reminder to brush after each meal.
The Painting Game: Cut from yellow construction paper some big tooth shapes to demonstrate how teeth can turn yellow if not brushed regularly. Give the child white non-toxic paint and have him paint the yellow teeth white again to demonstrate that toothpaste can do the same thing with real teeth.
Spreading of Germs Games
The Pretend Germs Game: Put flour into a large plastic bag telling the children it is a bag of pretend germs. The children dip their hands into the flour and go about playing and touching their toys and other items so that they can observe the trail of “germs” they leave on everything they touch.
The Microscope Game: Have the children gather common items they use with their hands, such as toys, books, crayons, pencils, pens, and paper. Using a microscope, allow them to view the items under it and draw pictures of the germs they see. This activity demonstrates the importance of hand washing because of the number of germs they routinely encounter.