Teaching Kids Hygiene Habits to Last a Lifetime

dad and daughter brushing teeth together
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Their bodies are changing, they're facing puberty, and their skin is breaking out. It's time to teach your growing kids hygiene habits to last a lifetime. Some tweens can be fussy and conscientious about hygiene and cleanliness. Other tweens may need a little encouragement in order to establish healthy habits and routines. Here's how to deal with hygiene and establishing habits for healthy living.

Establish a Routine

The first step to teaching healthy hygiene habits is to establish a working routine. Your tween needs to bathe or shower every day, and shampoo at least twice a week. Some tweens may enjoy showering at the end of the day, in order to relax before bed. Other tweens may need to shower in the morning, in order to wake up and face the day. A child who is active, involved in sports, or prone to sweating will need to shower every day, and in some cases, more than once a day.

Whatever your tween's needs are, help them establish a routine so that showering becomes a habit and part of the daily schedule.

Demonstrate Good Skin Care Techniques

Remember that your tween doesn't know as much as you do about skincare, so explain what your child needs to do to keep her skin clean and less likely to break out. Show your child how to properly wash the face, moisturize if necessary, and use over the counter acne treatments such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Be sure you also point out how important a healthy diet, rest, and exercise are to kids, hygiene and overall well being.

Explain Proper Shaving Techniques

Your son may have to wait a few years before shaving becomes necessary, but tween girls may want to begin shaving their legs or under their arms before they hit the teen years. Nobody knows how to shave properly right from the beginning, it takes patience and practice. Consider purchasing a battery-operated shaver, which gets the job done and doesn't require a steady hand like disposal razors do. Your child can get a closer shave with disposable razors once they're more confident and has a better understanding of what they're doing. If your son is ready to shave, the same advice applies. Try a battery-operated shaver first, in order to avoid those nasty razor cuts.

Go Easy on Perfumes

It's easy for tweens to go overboard on colognes or body sprays. Be sure you explain that a little bit goes a long way. Also, help your tween pick out a deodorant stick or antiperspirant stick that he or she likes. Tweens are tempted to choose deodorant products with strong scents, but sometimes those products can irritate young skin. Help your child find a product that does the job of mitigating body odor, without causing skin problems.

Make It Fun

Tweens enjoy picking out their own clothes and finding their own style. The same goes for cosmetics. Make showering fun by taking your tween shopping, allowing your tween to pick-out his or her own soaps and shampoos. Be sure to teach your child that sometimes the most expensive items aren't necessarily the best. You could even splurge on new towels, washcloths, and bath accessories for your tween.

If your child has their own bathroom, you could redecorate or paint the bathroom according to your tween's own style.

Make It "My Time"

If your tween associates showering or bathing with relaxing, he or she will be less likely to fuss when it comes time to clean up. Tell your child to use his or her time in the bathroom to calm down, think about the day, relax, and plan for the week ahead.

Give Your Tween Space

Tweens and teens need privacy and can be very self-conscious about their changing bodies. Make sure your tween has the privacy he or she needs (from you and from siblings) in order to feel comfortable showering and bathing. Let your child know that you are available to answer questions, but that you understand if he or she prefers to find answers elsewhere, such as from siblings, friends or online.

Offer Compliments

Compliment your tween when he or she takes the time to look good. Your child should know that people notice the effort and that personal appearance does matter.

1 Source
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  1. Decker A, Graber EM. Over-the-counter Acne Treatments: A ReviewJ Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2012;5(5):32–40.

By Jennifer O'Donnell
Jennifer O'Donnell holds a BA in English and has training in specific areas regarding tweens, covering parenting for over 8 years.