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Personal Hygiene for Your Student!

Good personal hygiene promotes good health, combats germs, and let’s face it, makes it much more pleasant to be around people. As your children grow and begin entering puberty, begin discussing good hygiene—define what good hygiene is and what they can do to practice it. Like in any good parenting, the best way to show you value good hygiene is to model it yourself.

Take it from us: "Hygiene is two thirds of health." –Lebanese Proverb

  • Talk about the importance of hand washing. - Proper hand washing may be the greatest single way to prevent illness and disease. Most viruses or bacterial infections are spread due to hand contact. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), proper hand washing includes making a lather and vigorously washing all surfaces of your hands for at least twenty seconds before rinsing. Demonstrate this technique and then have your kid do the same so you can verify they understand the process. Also, discuss when hands should be washed with your child. According to the CDC, hand washing needs to occur:
    • Before eating
    • Before, during, and after handling or preparing food
    • After contact with blood or body fluids (like vomit, nasal secretions, or saliva)
    • After changing a diaper
    • After using the bathroom
    • After handling animals, their toys, leashes, or waste
    • After touching something that could be contaminated (such as a trash can, cleaning cloth, drain, or soil)
    • Before dressing a wound, giving medicine, or inserting contact lenses
    • More often when someone in your home is sick
    • Whenever they look dirty

Option: If it is impossible to wash hands because there is no sink access, give your kids a small bottle of hand sanitizer to keep with them at school. The alcohol in the hand sanitizer will also help to kill germs. Just like hand washing, be sure the sanitizer is rubbed over all surfaces of the hands.

  • Instruct my kid to shower every day. - As adolescents mature and grow, they will find they need to shower more often to eliminate sweat, oil, and body odor. Thoroughly washing their face in the shower will help clear their face of oils, and help in the fight against acne. New body hair will also trap odor-causing bacteria, so remind your child to do a thorough job cleaning their entire body.
  • Verify that my grade-school child shampoos his hair at least three times a week and my junior high school child washes their hair at least five times a week. - As children near puberty, you will notice their hair looks oily more often. This is a natural process of physical maturing. Because of this, be sure your grade-school child shampoos their hair three times a week to get rid of dirt and oil. In junior high, hair washing will need to increase to daily or almost daily as hormones cause the body to produce more oils in their hair and on their face. There are many shampoo products on the market that deal specifically with oily hair.

Option: To encourage frequent hair washing, take your child with you to the store and allow him to pick out his own hair products such as shampoos, conditioners, gels, mousse, or hair spray.

  • Check my child's nails to be sure they are clean and trimmed. - Long nails can trap dirt. If your child scratches a mosquito bite for example, with their long, dirty nails, the bite can become infected, and even develop cellulitis, a serious bacterial infection. Show your kids how to trim their nails and to wash under nails when washing their hands.
  • Make sure my kid has clean clothes to wear during the week. - As adolescents grow and develop body odor, you will want to be sure clean, fresh clothes are available during the week, whether you do the laundry yourself or your child washes their own clothes. Underwear is the most obvious article of clothing that children will need to change daily. Clean socks are also important in good hygiene. See Step Nine for more information on foot hygiene.
  • Set a rule that gym shoes need to be worn with cotton socks and feet need to be washed well every time my kid showers or bathes. - Foot odor is common in adolescents. Wearing gym shoes without cotton socks does not allow feet to breathe and is a breeding ground for odor. Stress the importance of thoroughly washing feet in the shower including in between toes, to help eliminate odor.

Remember: Common soap and water is the first step to eliminating odor-causing bacteria. If your child still suffers from foot odor, try eliminating nylon socks or purchasing foot odor powders. Changing socks once or twice during the day can also help.

  • Purchase deodorant for my kid at the first sign of body odor. - In most cases, before your adolescent's body begins obvious physical changes, he will develop body odor. If body odor is apparent, it's a sign he needs deodorant. Because teasing and awkwardness are common with pre-teens, kids will want to be sure they present themselves as clean and well-kept. Deodorant will help control body odor and is a critical component in being well-groomed.



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