Social norms demand healthy hygiene; staying fresh and clean is fundamental. Even though most children go through a stage where they don’t care about personal cleanliness, there is nothing cool about being “the smelly kid.” Good personal hygiene sets the stage for children to grow up feeling good about themselves.
Rather than approaching household hygiene haphazardly, mothers should establish routines for the family. Checklists can help; brush teeth, bath/shower, deodorant, get dressed, comb hair. With set routines and persistence, the process becomes easier over time.
Critical Reorder Points
Mothers should establish critical reorder points to ensure that essentials don’t run scarce. Soap, shampoo, nail clippers, combs, brushes, band-aids, mouthwash, toothpaste, toothbrushes, toilet paper, and clean towels should be replaced long BEFORE they run out.
During potty training, adults impose restrictions on the when and the where, causing children to perceive inconvenience. Potty training represents children’s first real conflict with their own private decision-making; mom’s approach to this process can influence their future inclinations toward all forms of authority. A smooth transition through potty training can help set a trajectory for positive mental health. Premature or harsh potty training can lead children to become anally retentive as adults.
My brother from another mother, owner of a perfect smile, Brandon DeFaria, would always say, “Only floss the teeth you want to keep.” Dental hygiene is more than just having white teeth; we need to protect them for our entire lifetime. By prioritizing oral hygiene twice a day, we minimize dental problems. Don’t forget to schedule regular visits to a trustworthy dentist.
Body & Skin Care
The human body contains several million sweat glands. Our skin cells shed constantly. When this already stinky combination links up with dirt, grime, and other bacteria, we produce body odor. By washing frequently, we rinse away dead skin cells and oil to neutralize this threat. Young children tend to bathe or shower quickly; make sure they are scrubbing a bit extra on areas known for accumulating more sweat, such as the armpits, the groin, and between the toes. When done bathing, absorb moisture from the entire body (including between the toes) with a clean, dry towel. When children reach a certain age, deodorant should be applied to fully dried armpits.
When attending to small cuts, scrapes, or tiny burns, we should clean the affected area with soap and water, apply Bacitracin / Neosporin to prevent minor infection (if/as needed), and apply a small bandage (if/as needed). If a bandage is used, it’s important to periodically remove it to clean the area and let the wound breathe to expedite the healing process. Children must learn to not pick at boils or scabs, as this leads to infection, delayed healing, and can cause long-term scars. Reminding children about scarring can help them control the urge to pick.
Hair should be kept free from dirt, grease, and oil. Scrubbing the scalp and keeping hair fresh and clean will minimize the likelihood of dandruff, head lice, and other scalp infections.
Children are constantly putting things in their mouths, spreading germs and bacteria. Regular, thorough hand washing is one of the best ways to limit the spread of sicknesses. One cool way to teach the importance of hand washing is to play “The Glitter Game,” where children get glitter on their hands, and then are tasked with washing it off. When they must wash for 30 seconds or more to get all the glitter to come off, we can explain to them that germs carrying bacteria have “sticky” characteristics—just like glitter.
Don’t bite your nails! Use nail clippers and files and keep nail tips filed nice and smooth.
Wash hands before preparing food and after touching raw meat to avoid cross-contamination. Fruits and vegetables from the market are often sprayed with pesticides or other preservatives; wash before eating.
Clothing & Bedsheets
Fresh, clean, dry socks and underwear should be changed daily. Use clean towels. Wear clean unwrinkled clothing. Try to match. Have clean bed sheets.
When children grow tall enough to pull washed clothes out of the washing machine and transfer them to the dryer, they are generally old enough to do their own laundry. Mom’s task at this point is to foster good habits and guide them through the process, following up to ensure that clothing, socks, underwear, and bed sheets are all being changed, washed, dried, folded, and put away. Helping a youngster form good habits while still a cooperative pre-teen will support decent carry-through from a possibly sulky teenager.
Genital Hygiene – Boys
If boys have foreskin, it should be pulled back and washed underneath to prevent the accumulation of smegma (a natural lubricant to keep the penis moist), which can smell bad and create an environment conducive to the bacteria that causes balanitis (swelling and redness of the tip of the penis).
Genital Hygiene – Girls
The vagina cleans itself; vaginal douches are not recommended. Using soap to clean the vagina can upset the natural balance and lead to infections. The vulva (the external part of the vagina) should only need cleaning once a day with soap and water. Prevent urinary tract infections by wiping front to back, staying hydrated, and urinating as nature calls (not holding it). Eventually, girls will need to learn how to safely use tampons or pads.
The immune systems of children are less developed than adults, making them more susceptible to colds and flu. When children are sick, it’s best to avoid close contact with other kids. Teach them to cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze.
When children spill or drop something, we should calmly and considerately show them how to clean it up. Simple process: “Dry. Wet. Dry.” If they’re too young, they should know to ask for an adult’s help. If they’re old enough, we can gently coach them to manage cleanups until they can do a good job. Expect compliance with basic toilet and bathroom manners: flush the toilet after use, throw tissues or other garbage in the trash container, and put their wet towels in the hamper.
Set hygiene routines, be firm, loving, and persistent. If we suspect noncompliance, inspect to confirm standards are being upheld. Keep basic supplies stocked by having more than needed on hand. Good hygiene supports the development of healthy social skills; sloppily groomed, poorly dressed, stinky kids may get teased and even bullied at school. Whether at home or in public, children should be clean, dress appropriately, and maintain good hygiene.
“My friends, God has made us these promises. So we should stay away from everything that keeps our bodies and spirits from being clean. We should honor God and try to be completely like him.”
—2 Corinthians 7:1 CEV
Explore all the things teeth can do, how they grow, and how to keep them in tip top shape! Dr. Seuss’s rhymes will delight young readers and help them discover the world around them, starting with their own bodies!
Smelly Melly: Personal Hygiene for Kids and Little Monsters takes children and their parents on a fun, informative journey as Smelly Melly learns different ways to become a clean and happy Monster who makes lots of new friends.
This book guides readers through growing up, answering questions about periods, your growing body, peer pressure, personal care, and more!
From that first rumble in the bumble to that moment the potty is full of number one or number two, Super Pooper and Whizz Kid guide essential potty-training moments, ending with the all-important triumphant: the big-kid underpants dance!
Pig likes to be smelly, so he rolls around in the garbage, laps up spoiled milk, tracks dirty paw prints all over the house, and even sticks his head in the toilet! But enough is enough! Pig’s owner tries to get him to take a bath, but Pig refuses!
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Mothers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.