18 Ways to Encourage Learners to Care About Their Personal Appearance

Are you looking for ways to encourage students to care about their personal appearance? If so, keep reading.

1. Praise the student for improving personal hygiene over time rather than expecting total mastery of personal hygiene skills immediately.

2. Make sure that all communications with the student about personal hygiene are conducted in a private meeting.

3. Give the student scheduled times during the day to pay attention to personal hygiene needs.

4. Let the student arrive early at school to care for their personal appearance.

5. Do not criticize when correcting the student; be honest yet compassionate. Never cause the student to feel bad about themselves.

6. Connect with parents (e.g., notes home, phone calls, etc.) to disseminate information about the student’s progress. The parents may reinforce the student at home for caring for personal appearance.

7. Draft an agreement with the student stipulating what behavior is required (e.g., wearing clean clothing, shampooing hair, cleaning fingernails, etc.) and which reinforcement will be implemented when the agreement has been met.

8. Praise the student for caring for personal appearance based on the duration of time the student can be successful. As the student shows success, slowly increase the duration of time required for reinforcement.

9. Praise those students in the classroom who care for their personal appearance.

10. Converse with the student to explain (a) what the student is doing wrong (e.g., wearing dirty clothing, failing to shampoo hair or clean fingernails, etc.) and (b) what the student should be doing (e.g., wearing clean clothing, shampooing hair, cleaning fingernails, etc.).

11. Praise the student for caring for personal appearance: (a) give the student a concrete reward (e.g., privileges such as leading the line, handing out learning materials, 10 minutes of free time, etc.) or (b) give the student an informal reward (e.g., praise, handshake, smile, etc.).

12. Take into account the student’s age and experience before expecting them to care for personal hygiene independently.

13. Make sure that the student sees the relationship between their behavior and the consequences that follow (e.g., offending others, being avoided by others, not being able to take part in special learning activities, etc.).

14. Establish an example for the student by caring about your personal appearance (e.g., combing your hair, bathing daily, etc.).

15. Urge the student to take a home economics class, a health class, etc., to learn the importance of personal hygiene.

16. Make sure that the student knows that others might “make fun” if the student does not comb hair, zip pants, tie shoes, etc.

17. Consider using an adaptive behavior management app. Click here to view a list of apps that we recommend.

18. Click here to learn about six bonus strategies for challenging problem behaviors and mastering classroom management.

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