Hey parents! Taking your young children out is always fun and memorable but it does come with some challenges. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges would be finding clean public toilets when they need to use them. After all, no parent is going to feel comfortable letting their child use a smelly and unhygienic toilet. But here’s the thing, toilet cleanliness is everyone’s responsibility and that is why it is important to instil good toilet habits in our kids from a young age. We are here to share with you some ways to make it easier for your child to use public toilets, as well as some toilet hygiene habits for kids to acquire early in life!
Importance of Clean Public Toilets and Good Toilet Hygiene for Young Children
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of good personal hygiene and cleanliness standards, especially in public spaces such as communal eating places and public toilets. As such, keeping our public toilets clean is one way to prevent the transmission of diseases. This matters most to your little ones, who are more vulnerable to infections because they have not developed the necessary protective immunities1. As such, clean public toilets are also considered a “key aspect of public health2”.
Furthermore, if your children are often exposed to dirty and unhygienic public toilets, they may start to feel reluctant to use public toilets, or toilets in general. This may cause them to hold their urge for long periods of time. This affects their ability to fully empty their bladder and over time, this can lead to urinary tract infections, increased urinary frequency and even kidney damage3.
4 Key Actions for Good Toilet Hygiene and Clean Public Toilets
Mums and dads, we know that clean public toilets are important. But we aren’t always going to have hotel standard toilets everywhere we go. Yes, there may be certain infrastructure enhancements to contribute to public toilet cleanliness in addition to cleaners, but these measures do not make for a more gracious society. So each of us should make it our personal responsibility to practise good toilet hygiene. It is a collective effort and what better time to start than from childhood?
The earlier you instil these habits in your children, the more likely they are to stick with them. By the time they start attending school, good toilet hygiene should be second nature to your children.
Don’t worry, it’s easy for them to pick up these habits. Teach them to do these 4 key actions – flush, clean, bin, dry! It’s as simple as that!
There is a half flush, and there is a full flush. Children generally can’t wait to get out of the toilet, so they often end up barely touching the flush button. It’s a great idea to work on this at home and show them when to use a half or full flush, and to check if they have done it successfully. Don’t feel defeated if they forget (they are likely to), just keep reminding them until it becomes second nature.
Fret not, we’re not suggesting getting your little ones to mop toilet floors! All they need to do is ensure that they have not dirtied the toilet seat. If they have, it’s always good to show them how to wipe any drips with some toilet paper to leave it clean for the next user!
We know what it’s like with kids and that they throw things everywhere but in the bin. Not because they don’t want to, but because they enjoy putting their aiming skills to the test. You could remind them that the toilet isn’t a good place to do so, and that they must ensure that all litter goes right into the bin where it belongs.
Wet toilet floors are unhygienic as well as a hazard for everyone who can slip and fall on wet areas. Always remind your children to try their best to keep the floor dry when using the toilet as well as when washing their hands at the sink.
If every child learns to carry out these 4 key actions into adulthood, we can have public toilets that we can be proud of.
Parents, apart from these, don’t forget to remind your children to practise good personal hygiene as well. Washing their hands with soap is an absolute must! You can point out to them what to look out for when using cubicles, and to pick another one if it is too dirty.
If you’re looking for fun ways to teach your child more about good toilet etiquette, you can check out these free activity sheets for both preschoolers and primary school children. You can download the activity sheets and complete them with your children as a fun bonding activity!
Toilet Hacks for Parents Bringing Kids to Public Toilets
If you’re having trouble getting your kids to use public toilets, here are some tips to make it easier:
- Make a conscious effort to use the toilet when you are out so that your child sees you using it and understands that public toilets aren’t unsafe or scary
- When using public toilets, be a role model of good toilet hygiene
- Follow your child into the cubicle until they get used to it; you might even have to sit with your child if they fear falling into the potty
- Try to implement a ‘no potty no play’ rule so that your child understands that using the toilet is a necessary part of their outing
- Try it out in more familiar environments such as a friend’s home or a favourite mall before venturing into unfamiliar territory
- Be generous with your praises, as your child may find it daunting to use the toilet in a new environment so don’t hold back rewarding them4
So there you go, parents. Using public toilets should not be a scary experience for your child. And grasp every opportunity to remind them of the importance of good toilet hygiene and that everyone has a part to play to maintain clean public toilets instead of relying on our cleaners, many of whom are seniors, to do all the cleaning. In fact, it’s a great way to teach your children that after all, it’s always better to leave a place better than you found it!