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Teaching Preschoolers How to Take Care of Their Bodies

by Melissa Willets

By the time a kiddo enters preschool, he is very capable of being in charge of many aspects of his hygiene. He is also ready to learn about the importance of eating healthy and staying fit. Still, you'll want to introduce and reinforce these ideas in a fun way. You may even want to make various aspects of taking care of the body into a game.

Dental Care

Dental care is an important aspect of your tot's health. By the time he is in preschool, he should have already been to the dentist. KidsHealth.org recommends seeking the care of a pediatric dentist who can help you reinforce to your cutie why brushing and flossing, if his teeth touch, should be part of his daily routine. Encourage your little one to start taking charge of his chompers. He can squeeze a pea sized amount of toothpaste on his toothbrush and do his own brushing. You'll probably have to supervise, but start getting him in the routine of brushing for a full minute twice per day. You can even help him make up a silly song about keeping his pearly whites sparkling clean to keep the chore interesting.

Hygiene

Bath time is probably a favorite ritual in your household. What kiddo doesn't love splashing around in the tub with some bubbles and a few squirt toys? But bath time is also a great time to encourage good hygiene habits. By preschool age, your clean cutie can start to wash himself in the bath. Outside of the tub, HealthyChildren.org recommends teaching your tyke how to wash his hands thoroughly to prevent the spread of germs. You can also explain to your germ prone preschooler that he should cover his mouth when he coughs or sneezes, preferably with his sleeve. "This is how we keep germs away!"

Healthy Eating

An important part of teaching your tot how to care for his body is instilling healthy eating habits. HealthyChildren.org encourages parents to think about the messages they are sending about food. Kids watch everything parents do, so if you model healthy eating habits, your hungry honey is likely to follow suit. And watch what you say about food around your mini muncher. Muttering things like, "I feel fat after eating that brownie," and "I practically have to starve myself to be thin," will negatively shape your babe's body image. Also, be sure to stock the house with healthy options and eat together as a family often so you can share healthy meals.

Exercise

Lucky for you, preschoolers are rarely running low on energy. So getting your growing tot to stay active will hardly be a chore. Still, you will want to talk to your tyke about the importance of exercise for a healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, show your sweetie that sweating is stellar! When your wee one sees you exercising regularly, he is more likely to value exercise. Just make sure he is getting enough physical activity daily; KidsHealth.org recommends 60 minutes of structured physical activity and 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity each day for a 4- to 5-year-old. Some ideas for integrating exercise into your preschooler's day include taking a family walk, going to the playground, going for a bike ride and kicking a ball around the yard. Take your tyke to an open mini gym session or enroll him in a pewee soccer league.

About the Author

Melissa Willets has been writing about parenting, pregnancy and "all things mom" since 2009. She has contributed to many websites, including Pampers.com and WhatToExpect.com.

Photo Credits

  • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images