Children don’t always understand why you ask them to do certain things like eating their vegetables, going to bed early, and of course, bathing and brushing their teeth regularly. As a result, they may not be too keen to do these things. And while you can watch them eat their dinner and tuck them into bed every night, you may have problems keeping track of their hygiene as they get older. And most kids go through a phase where they lose interest in taking care of their own health and hygiene, usually in pre-adolescence or early adolescence. As their bodies begin to change, they may want to hide from the world (and themselves), but it could simply be that they’re not particularly invested in the process of attending to their hygiene. In any case, it’s up to you to ensure that your children are clean and healthy. So if they’re neglecting their hygiene, here are a few ways to get them bathing and brushing their teeth.
1. Inform them of consequences. It could be that all you need to do is have a conversation with your kids to let them know what happens when they fail to bathe and brush their teeth. If they know that poor bodily hygiene can lead to odor and infection, and they are aware that neglecting their teeth can cause halitosis, cavities, and even periodontal disease, perhaps they will be more inclined to take care of their hygiene.
2. Find out if there are underlying issues. Before you can get your kids to take command of their personal hygiene you may have to address other problems. There could be unknown reasons why your children refuse to bathe or brush their teeth, and you need to know what they are if you want to change their habits.
3. Create a schedule. Perhaps the problem is that you have too many people and too few bathrooms in your home (or one or more children are dominating the bathrooms during pre-school hours). For this reason, it could be a good idea to implement a schedule so that everyone can get the time required to attend to their hygienical needs. Just keep in mind that you might have to stay on top of the matter to ensure that one or two kids aren’t abusing the system and keeping their siblings out of the bathroom.
4. Offer rewards (or punishment). Small kids can be instilled with good habits if they learn to associate hygiene with rewards. By charting their progress and then rewarding them appropriately (say with a weekly trip to the bookstore, the park, or the public pool), then you may have them clamoring for bath time and brushing their teeth. However, some kids may not take to this system, in which case you could consider cancelling play dates or other “rewards” should they fail to practice proper hygiene.
5. Track progress. Your kids might not like you looking over their shoulder, but ultimately their health and cleanliness is your responsibility. As they get older, you won’t be able to bathe them or brush their teeth anymore, but you can march them to the bathroom to insist that they take baths or watch while they brush their teeth. It’s not the ideal solution, but eventually they will either get tired of your attention or become more interested in their own hygiene.
Sarah Danielson writes for Family Dentist in Anchorage where you can get the beautiful healthy smile you’ve always dreamed of.