ParentingDirt, Germs and Grime: Tips and Tricks for Teaching Children Personal Hygiene

Dirt, Germs and Grime: Tips and Tricks for Teaching Children Personal Hygiene

They’re out there. Germs. They make your kids sick. And, if you’re not careful, they’ll make you sick too. Here’s how experiences moms deal with it.

A Positive Note About Germs

While it’s generally a good idea to keep your kids clean and free of pathogenic germs, there is a time when you should absolutely expose your kids to them. Bacteria help modulate the immune system. That means that your immune system, and especially your child’s immune system, needs bacteria to stay healthy.

Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? It’s not. You see, when you give something for the immune system to do, then it doesn’t attack your body. When you live in a germ-free world, you end up with a weaker immune system.
Think of it this way: if you lift weights you get stronger, right? If you don’t lift weights, guess what? You don’t get stronger. Think of bacteria like weights for your immune system. Constant exposure to them is a necessary part of life. But, you don’t want too much exposure, and this is where good hygiene comes into play. It’s not about eliminating, but rather controlling, exposure to germs.

children hygieneImage Source: Pxhere

Glitter Hand Magic

One way to control germs is to monitor how kids wash their hands. Some kids only rinse their hands quickly under water, if they wash at all. But, they should wash their hands thoroughly every time before they eat. Kids just don’t understand germs.

Sprinkle glitter on your child’s hands, and challenge them to wash off all the glitter with soap and water. Because the glitter is naturally sticky, it’s gonna take then some time to do it.

Tell your child that the glitter is sort of like germs on your child’s hands. It gives them something to eliminate. And, it’s going to take them at least 30 seconds to scrub their hands to get everything off, which is about how long it takes to clean germs off your hands.

Brush Their Teeth

You can do something similar with kids when they brush their teeth. Make sure you’re getting them into the dentist on a regular basis. And, if you don’t have dental insurance, you should consider picking up some from

Use toothpaste and mouthwash that will show whether they’ve left germs behind. Special mouthwash will stain plaque on your kid’s teeth. Plaque is where germs hide, so making sure their teeth are spotless ensures they’re doing a good job keeping their mouth clean. And, this will reduce the risk of them getting sick and potentially passing germs onto other people once they are sick.

Teach Your Kids About The Spread Of Germs

Teach your kids about spreading germs around by showing them how they live on hands and other things they touch. Pretend to sneeze and then when you do, cover your hands in a washable paint. Then, go around and touch things around the room. Show your kids the effects. This will help visualize for your kids what it’s like to spread germs all over the room.

Match Game

You can play the match game that shows kids the tools for personal hygiene and which body part to use them on. One set of cards will be used for things like pictures of soap, a toothbrush, fingernail clippers, and mouthwash. Another set of cards will have pictures of shoes, hands, teeth, nails, and mouth.

Now, flip all the cards over and have the kids try to match up the tool to the body part. See if they can do it. If they can’t, keep working at it. It takes a lot of time for kids to make these associations. So, keep at it and don’t get frustrated with them.

Good Habits vs Bad Habits

Emphasize the importance of good hygiene by playing a sorting game with your kids. On pieces of paper, you’ll write down 10 good hygiene habits, like flossing every night, washing for 20 seconds, and covering your mouth when you cough.

On 10 other pieces of paper, you’ll write out bad habits (pretty much the opposite of the first 10). The children can then draw cards one at a time and decide whether it’s good or bad.


While teaching kids good hygiene doesn’t necessarily mean they will follow through and practice it, it’s a step in the right direction. If you lead by example, and show kids that it’s fun, practical, and also just a good thing to do, they’re more likely to follow you.

Elizabeth Webb is a Grandmother who works as a life coach part time / when called upon! Known mostly for writing mind/body/spirit articles she has recently started using her grandkids as inspiration for article topics too.


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