Teaching your child good hygiene habits needn't be a chore, and once firmly established, they will last a lifetime, ensuring your child's future health. Here are a few pointers to get you and your child started:
1. Hand on heart Okay, here's a question. How frequently do you wash your hands? Be honest now. Probably not as often as you should. Try to always be aware of what you are handling, such as food stuffs, caring for a sick person etc. and wash your hands afterwards. Better still, get a hand sanitizer in the kitchen, as children love using these. By washing your own hands regularly you will reinforce its importance in your child.
2 Keep up the fun factor Children love things that are specifically aimed at them, and would be more likely to use a novelty soap than just a plain one. Similarly for toothpaste and toothbrush. Bright and colourful usually catches a child's eye, and will make them more amenable to good hygiene practices.
3 Sing a song The next time your child washes his hands or cleans his teeth, introduce a song into the process, so for instance, sing: "This is the way we brush our teeth" to the tune of Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush, and keep up the ditty for the requisite two minutes . Your child will be so engrossed he won't even realise he is being timed.
4 In sickness and in health Young children need to be taught the link between poor hygiene habits and illness, so try to explain it to your child in simple terms, for example, when a person with a cold sneezes, the sneeze is full of germs, which is how you catch colds. This is why it's so important to sneeze into a tissue and then throw the tissue away.
5 Book it! There's lots of great children's books on the importance of hygiene. Germs! by Martin Martin Howard and Colin Stimpson (Pavilion, £10.99), shows in gloriously gory detail just what happens when one little boy, Sam, forgets to wash his hands after going to the toilet.