If your little one looks like she just stepped out of "Little Orphan Annie," it's time to give her a lesson or two on personal grooming. Just because you have the hygiene thing down pat doesn't mean that your child -- or tween or teen -- knows how to keep herself completely clean and well-groomed.
While your toddling tyke may not have an oil slick on his head, chances are that your teen may face this problem when he begins puberty. Teach about hair care before the puberty-driven hormone influx causes greasy tresses. Personal grooming for toddlers, preschoolers and young grade schoolers includes washing with a mild, tear-free shampoo, possibly using a detangling spray and brushing. Avoid hair-in-the-eyes problems by teaching your child to brush his hair off of his face or talking about how haircuts aren't scary. Take your child on a field trip to the salon, allowing him to watch you get your hair cut and encouraging him to meet the friendly stylists. As your child grows, explain that washing his hair regularly can help to make it less oily and keep it smelling fresh.
Although your child isn't exactly ready for her first box of whitening strips, you still need to teach her the basics of dental hygiene. The American Academy of Pediatrics, on its Healthy Children website, recommends that you start brushing your child's mouth with a clean washcloth before she even has teeth. When your child gets old enough to start handling her own toothbrush -- typically by the preschool years, with your assistance -- help her to understand how often and for long she should brush. Remind her when she wakes up, after meals and before bed to brush for two minutes at a time. If she can't keep brushing for the full time, set a timer or play a two-minute song to help.
When it comes to kids' skin, younger ones have little to worry about past using a gentle soap. By the time your child reaches the tween years, he may begin to show signs of oily skin and acne. Teach him how to control the oil and get his pimples under control by encouraging him to wash his face twice each day. starting with a mild cleanser . If his acne doesn't respond to a more moderate grooming routine, the AAP suggests trying an over-the-counter product with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide or -- in a more severe case -- consult a dermatologist.
As your child moves into puberty you may begin to notice a not-so-faint body odor. While there's little reason to teach your younger child body odor basics, your tween or teen needs to know the facts. According to the KidsHealth website, body odor during the teen years comes from a combination of an increase in sweat gland activity and hormonal -- or chemical -- changes. Teach your preteen the basics of odor control by encouraging her to shower every day, using soap or a body wash. You can also help her to choose an antiperspirant or deodorant to take care of underarm odor.