Good hygiene

Everyone needs to keep clean to kill germs and avoid getting sick. Good personal hygiene also boosts confidence by dealing with problems like bad breath or body odour.

For children, the basics of good personal hygiene are:

  • washing hands
  • covering their mouth when they cough
  • having regular baths or showers
  • brushing and flossing teeth.

Hand washing

Most germs are spread through hand contact. Regularly washing hands will prevent your child and others from getting sick.

Encourage your child to wash their hands with soap and water:

  • when hands look dirty
  • before eating or preparing food
  • after touching raw meats, including chicken and beef
  • after touching any body fluids like blood, urine or vomit
  • after touching animals
  • after blowing their nose, sneezing or coughing
  • after going to the toilet.

Hand washing technique

Blowing your nose

Have a box of tissues or a toilet roll in an area your child can access. Initially they will use lots as they will want to continually wipe their noses.

Explain to your child that by wiping their nose or by covering their nose when they sneeze, the germs are in the tissue. Encourage your child to put the tissue in the bin – therefore the germs are now in the bin.

When you child has wiped their nose, encourage them to wash their hands, again talking about washing the germs away.

Brushing teeth

When your child brushes their teeth it is important that you support the process and highlight the importance of keeping teeth clean. You should be supervising your child and even cleaning your teeth alongside ‘role modelling’ the process.

Teeth need to be brushed twice daily using a fluoride toothpaste. It is important that your child brushes their teeth last thing at night before they go to bed and on one other occasion during the day (normally after breakfast).

Use only a ‘pea’ amount of toothpaste. It is important that your child brushes their teeth for two minutes each time. Use a timer to support this process. There are many different apps that can support you with this.

Hand washing chart

Why not make a game out of hand washing and count up how many times a day your child washes their hands. Click on the activity sheet image for a template you can use at home.

Pepper and soap experiment

This activity demonstrates the importance of using soap. Click on the activity sheet to find out more.