Healthy Hygiene Habits

by Dana Smith Bader
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I recently read that at any given time anywhere from two to ten billion bacteria can be found on a person’s arm from the fingers to the elbows. Yuck! That’s a lot of germs, and, in light of that statistic, it’s a wonder that any of us manage to stay well, especially those of us with children. The good news, however, is that good hygiene habits like hand washing can eliminate the bacteria, prevent the spread of germs, and keep us healthy.

Good hand hygiene is perhaps the most important practice for keeping us healthy. Therefore, it is essential that we teach our children not only when to wash their hands, but also exactly how to wash them. First, children should be taught to wash their hands after attending the toilet, after playing outside, before eating food, before sleeping, and after coughing or sneezing. More important, they should learn a very specific method for washing their hands.

  1. First, they should turn on the water and rinse their hands.
  2. Next, they should take the soap and rub it on their hands thoroughly for about half a minute. Also, they should make sure they clean the whole hand up to the wrist, between each finger, and under their finger nails.
  3. After cleaning their hands with soap, they should rinse them again thoroughly with clean water.
  4. Finally, they should use a clean, dry towel or paper towel to dry their hands before leaving the bathroom.

In addition, to washing their hands carefully, children should have their nails cut at least weekly. Also, they should be taught to cough or sneeze in a tissue or handkerchief, or into their elbow if they do not have a tissue at hand. Sneezing or coughing in their hands only causes them to spread germs to other surfaces that they touch if they do not wash their hands afterwards.

In addition to good hand hygiene, children should be taught how to care for their hair, bodies, feet, and teeth. Children should learn to brush their teeth after every meal. Also, it is preferable for children to bathe daily and to wash their hair at least two to three times per week. They should also learn to wash their feet well when they take a bath and cut their toenails at least weekly.

After using the toilet, children need to learn how to wash and dry themselves properly. In the Middle East, we are lucky enough to have toilet hoses available for proper washing after we use the toilet. Therefore, parents should take extra care to teach their children how to wash after using the toilet. It is also important to stress the importance of drying their bottoms after washing to prevent rashes or infections.

Last, but not least, children need to learn the basics of good food hygiene. If your little ones like to cook with you, it is important for them to learn that all vegetables and fruit should be washed. Also, they can learn to wash meat pieces before cooking them to remove excess blood or other matter. They must also learn to wash their hands and tie their hair back, as necessary, before beginning any type of food preparation even if they plan to wear gloves during the preparation process. In general, they can also learn that it is not healthy to eat while walking on the street due to the excess dirt and dust in the air, and they must also remember never to sneeze or cough directly on food. Finally, they need to remember to wash their hands after handling food or eating.

Good personal hygiene habits will help your child stay healthy, ward off illnesses, maintain a healthy body image, and develop a health-conscious personality. Of course, keeping clean doesn’t mean that your child can never get dirty. It is important for children to enjoy exploring, especially outdoors, and being creative with messy play. However, it is equally important for them to know how to clean up afterwards. If you want to have a healthy child, you need to teach healthy hygiene habits!

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