It’s probably not surprising that it’s beneficial to teach hygiene and self-care in early childhood. Understanding these tasks is a pretty clear-cut advantage for any human at any age! However, teaching self-care and proper hygiene to a toddler can be both time-consuming and frustrating. If you’re running late in the morning, it’s not exactly easy to stop everything to watch your 2-year-old attempt to “brush” her hair.
That said, it is important to understand the developmental, emotional, and health benefits of teaching hygiene early. This doesn’t mean you need to have a strict hygiene lesson three times a day, because let’s face it, there will be days when it’s just easier to do things for her! However, reserving some time to encourage independent self-care has some significant long-term rewards.
There are amazing developmental benefits hidden behind every self-care task. When your toddler is learning how to hold a toothbrush properly, she’s exercising fine motor skills. Gross motor skills are developing when she’s practicing putting on pants without tumbling over. Self-care lessons also build language skills when she practices naming each tool and each task. Teaching hygiene at an early age also helps her understand the concept of sequences, such as washing hands before eating, or the steps involved in brushing teeth.
Social and Emotional Benefits
Learning hygiene and independent self-care contributes to healthy social and emotional development. Attempting to complete these activities on her own can build a strong sense of self, independence, and confidence. A sense of accomplishment can be very powerful when she reaches a self-care milestone on her own. It’s also important to remember that feeling independent and confident are both big components of social skills. Children who struggle with hygiene can face a lot of limitations when it comes to social experiences later in life. They may not want to go to a playdate or a sleepover party when they know they can’t handle these tasks on their own. Teaching self-care tasks early can help build the foundation for self-awareness and positive social connections.
Of course, we can’t discuss the benefits of learning self-care at an early age without mentioning the prominent health benefits. When good hygiene is showcased at home, toddlers learn the importance of being healthy. Washing our hands keeps us from getting sick. Brushing our teeth keeps the cavities away. Taking a bath removes all the dirt so we don’t get an infection. When practicing good hygiene and independent self-care activities, it’s important to remind her of the reasons why we do them. Understanding this at an early age helps her build healthy habits that can last a lifetime.
If you’re ready to start encouraging your child to do more of these tasks on her own, check out our BabySparks self-care activities that can help you teach her about brushing hair, brushing teeth, washing face and hands, putting on shoes, and much more!