Once your child begins walking, he will become more and more independent. Toddlers and preschoolers want to try to do a number of things on their own and parents have a tremendous opportunity to instill good, healthy habits as they teach self-care skills during this stage of development.
Your child will best learn how to care for herself by watching you and her older siblings. Set a good example by taking good care of yourself, keeping yourself well-groomed, and following the same healthy practices you hope to teach your child. Discuss germs and their role in sickness with your child very early on and talk with her about things she can do to prevent germs from making her sick.
As we all know, the best germ deterrent is washing your hands regularly. Teach your little one to wash his hands after playing outside, after he uses the restroom, and before he eats. Also encourage him to wash up if he coughs or sneezes and after he plays with animals or pets. Twenty seconds of rubbing, remembering to get in between fingers, with warm water and a mild soap is usually enough to get rid of any germs.
When children enjoy keeping themselves clean, they are more likely to make good hygiene a lifelong habit. Help your child wash her hands the right way by asking her to sing a short song as she washes. "Happy Birthday", "Row, Row Your Boat", or two rounds of the ABC song will last about 20 seconds each, helping your child develop a habit of washing her hands properly.
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