All of a sudden, he doesn’t need my help doing all sorts of things that I normally do for him, the most notable being washing him up when he takes a bath and helping him brush his teeth. He is now convinced that as a four-year-old he is very capable of taking care of his own hygiene.
There comes a time in every child’s life where they begin to take over their own hygiene responsibilities. I still remember clearly when my oldest daughter started washing her own hair and I was convinced that her hair would fall out within the week from lack of proper washing!
As a mom, we feel the need to take care of our children in excess sometimes. It’s important for them to learn these skills, but hard for us as moms to let go.
Learning proper hygiene habits, and being able to do them independently are important life skills for every child.
Here are a few tips for making this transition easier on your little one and you:
Start early: As moms we are often guilty of “doing it all” when it comes to our children. Picking up their toys, getting them dressed, and cleaning up their face and hands after they are done eating are just a few of the many skills that they need to learn, but we continue to do for them long after they are able to start doing them themselves.
I’ll be honest, sometimes it’s just quicker and easier to do it myself. But starting at a young age, I have forced myself to give some of that responsibility to my children. They may not be ready to completely brush their own teeth at two or three, but I start letting them try, and guiding their hands in the proper technique so that when they are a bit older, they already know what to do and are able to take over the reins. Starting to teach hygiene habits at a young age is essential. The more practice and repetition, the more confident they will be when it’s their turn.
Make it fun: Buy them a fun toothbrush or their favorite brightly colored toothpaste. When it comes to teaching them the proper steps for washing their bodies and hair, make bath time even more fun than normal. It will make your children excited about doing these skills themselves. We use bathtub finger paints to add some artsy fun to wash-up time, and tub fizzy tints to make our bath water a variety of colors!
Bath time is also a great opportunity to sprinkle in a bit of learning! ALEX has these great bath tub numbers and shapes stickers that make bath time so much fun that the “learning” part isn’t even noticed and it makes Luke even more excited about being a big kid in the bath!
Be age appropriate: Remember that every child is different and not every four or five year old will be ready to start washing their own hair, or even brushing their own teeth. Good hygiene is essential to your child’s health, so be sure they are ready before you completely hand over the responsibility of these skills to them. Also remember to check in often with them. I still sit and watch my son wash up in the bath tub to make sure he hits all the right spots, and that he’s good and clean before he gets out of the tub. I want to give him his independence, but as his mom, it’s still my responsibility to make sure it’s getting done.
Do you have any tips to share? How did you teach your little ones about good hygiene? Were there any particular hygiene skills you found easier or harder to teach them?
Whatever your approach to teaching your preschooler good hygiene habits, just remember that in essence you are teaching kids independence and how to be happy and healthy children!
Check out ALEX’s collection of bath toys to find something perfect for your little one!