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4 Personal Hygiene Games for Kids

What active toddler who spends their days bouncing off the walls has time to think about germs and cleanliness? Every parent knows that teaching their kids personal hygiene can sometimes be a challenge. One way to approach it is to turn an important lesson into a series of games that will do the heavy-lifting for you. To get a jump on it while they're still young, here's a list of fun and collaborative ways for you to get your child interested in their personal hygiene.

1. Vocabulary Charade

A lot of younger kids don't know all of the words for the items and activities they'll need in order to practice great personal hygiene. Take the time to sit with them and act out brushing your teeth, washing your hands and taking a shower. Ask them what you're doing as you mime each action. Then, turn it around on them and give them cues to perform charades of their own. Some good questions to ask are:

"What do you do to clean your teeth?"

"How do you wash your hands?"

The goal for this is not only for them to associate the tools they'll need for each part of their personal hygiene but to also teach them new vocabulary in a fun, immersive way. Separate brushes, soap, hair combs and tissues. If they don't know what some of these items are called, teach them the names. Then, ask what each one is used for and be ready to provide the answer as needed.

2. The Glitter Trick

For some parents, the idea of germs and contamination is too abstract to explain to their children. Enter the glitter trick.

When your kid is gearing up to play, put some glitter on their palms and ask them to rub their hands together, so they get it all over themselves. Then, allow them to go on and play like they normally would. In just a few minutes, your child should leave a trail of glitter in their wake. You'll likely find it on doorknobs, all over their toys and anywhere else they might have touched.

This is an incredibly effective demonstration of how germs spread. Show your child all the glitter they left in their surroundings and explain what it means. Next, have them wash their hands until the glitter is all gone. This will not only teach them about how people become contagious but also address how they need to wash their hands: by scrubbing diligently with soap for at least thirty seconds.

If you instruct them to do this every time they come back into the house after playing outside, after they use the bathroom or when their hands get dirty, the lion's share of the lessons you're trying to teach them is done.

3. Brushing and Flossing Your Child's Teeth

Come bedtime, one of the hardest tasks parents undertake is making their kids understand the importance of good oral hygiene. It's important to establish good habits before they lose their baby teeth so that by the time their permanent teeth grow, they know what to do.

For a little hands-on project, set aside a day for arts and crafts. The goal is to create a large-size model of your kids' teeth to give them better visibility of what they should worry about. You can create these model teeth with your children by using papier-maché, repurposing cardboard boxes or finding plastic materials that you can assemble to look like the real thing.

Next, use glitter and clay to get the model teeth dirty. Focus your attention on the spaces between the teeth. It's also good to use this chance to show how different drinks stain teeth.

Now it's time to clean up. Have your kids use common cleaning brushes to scrub the surface of the teeth clean, and then do a polishing round with pieces of string they can use as floss.

While they're underway with the cleaning, explain that their teeth need the same kind of attention every day. By seeing a blown-up version of what happens in their mouths, children become better prepared to understand how their teeth become dirty and what they need to do to keep their smiles sparkling.

4. Encourage Bathing

The best way to encourage your kids to be enthusiastic about taking a shower or a bath is to turn it into part of their play. If they normally bathe in a bathtub, getting a few simple toys and splashing around with them is a wonderful incentive. For older kids, teaching them how to apply shampoo and conditioner on their hair gives them a sense of independence. After all, being able to shower all by themselves is what big kids do.

After they're done, be sure to show them how to brush their hair properly and how to clean the hairbrush. The most important aspect to consider when showing your kids how to do all of these things is to create a routine they can follow. Singing songs to show them how long they should lather their hair before rinsing and practicing how to brush hair in front of a mirror helps make things clearer for them to replicate.

Personal hygiene is a must. The best way to succeed in getting your child to understand the fundamentals is to have patience and really get into the educational activities you've planned for them. After a few short demonstrations, your child will be ready to take care of their hygiene with less and less assistance from you.