Basic hygiene and cleanliness are some of those things that most preschoolers seem to actively resist. If they don’t know why something is important and it doesn’t seem exciting, it’s probably not on their priority list. That’s why it’s so important to help your little munchkin understand the importance of hand washing, brushing her teeth and keeping her room neat and tidy.
Scrub Those Hands!
You’ve tried to teach her about good hand washing practices, but if she doesn’t see anything on her hands, it seems like a pointless activity, right? You can let her get a little dirty to teach her there’s more than meets the eye. Let her have a great time playing in the mud or dirt and then bring her over to the sink. Have her wash her hands on her own and then give her a paper towel to dry. There’s almost certainly going to be dirt rubbing off onto the towel. Explain that just because you can’t see the dirt, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Help her to rewash her hands thoroughly and then repeat this same activity occasionally to monitor her progress.
Dolly’s Teeth and My Teeth
Brushing her teeth is an important part of a cleanliness routine, but from a preschooler’s perspective, it can be pretty boring. If you’ve been brushing your teeth alongside her and it still isn’t on her list of fun things to do, let her teach her dolly the importance of good dental hygiene, making tooth brushing time seem a little bit more exciting. Find a doll with an open mouth and buy a toddler-size toothbrush for the doll. Give your little munchkin the toothbrush with a tiny amount of toothpaste and have her brush the dolly’s teeth while she explains to the doll why it’s so important.
You can help her to remember good hygiene habits with some miniature storyboard activities that you can post in the washroom when she’s done. Start by drawing or printing off pictures of the steps involved in hand washing, tooth brushing and face washing. For example, a hand washing storyboard will require a picture of someone turning on a faucet, putting soap on their hands, rubbing them together, rinsing and drying. Lay these pictures out in random order and have your preschooler assemble them into a proper storyboard and then glue them in place on a piece of construction paper. Hang the picture in the washroom for a quick reference.
Is that a Room or a Pigsty?
If your preschooler has gotten accustomed to the sea of clothes and toys on her floor, then it’s probably a good time for a lesson in basic home and environmental cleanliness. One of the best activities to teach her how to clean up after herself is to work with her. She’ll get a kick out of folding laundry with you and you can turn toy cleanup time into a game, rather than a chore, with a song or counting activity. Help to her to apply the basics of cleaning up to her classroom, the backyard and even the park. But make sure she knows never to pick up anything on the ground in public places without asking you first.
- Active Start for Healthy Kids: Activities, Exercises, and Nutritional Tips; Stephen J. Virgilio
- Health, Safety, and Nutrition Activities A to Z; Joanne Matricardi, et al.
- Thomas Northcut/Lifesize/Getty Images