How sports can help your child learn about cleanliness

By Janis Meredith | Posted 11/30/2016

When it comes to cleanliness and sports, it’s easy for parents to get frustrated with the dirt and grime that inevitably accompanies youth sports. It seems as though I was always battling the mess. Messy gym bags, messy dugouts, and messy lockers.

However, youth sports can teach your child about cleanliness, which provide valuable lessons that will aid him later in life.

First, remember that it is important to pick your battles. It’s probably more beneficial for your child to learn clean habits and good health, rather than nagging him to keep his room clean.

Here are some important cleanliness tips your child can learn:

How to do laundry. This is one you can impart pretty early on. Teach your kids how to do their own laundry and let them take responsibility for it. They will learn how to take care of it soon enough, especially when they don’t have a clean uniform or their favorite pair of sox smells. This realization is compounded, which breeds self-motivation, when they realize Mom or Dad is not coming to the rescue.

Don’t share germs. Teach your child not to share his or her drinking bottles. I know that this is quickly forgotten in the heat of competition when one is dying of thirst, but I can’t tell you how many times my kids got sick from a teammate because they shared a drink.

Cleaning up after the game and practice. As parents and coaches, let your players be responsible for cleaning up the bench or dugout after a competition. Don’t fall into the role of being their maid.

Keeping the gym bag clean. Have your child clean out the bag every night, otherwise bad smells begin to accumulate. Have a designated spot for him to hang it up and air it out. By having a designated spot, he always knows where to find it when it’s time to gather his equipment again.

Sometimes, in youth sports, we are so focused on teaching our kids positive character traits that we neglect the very practical skills—like cleanliness. It is imperative that children learn these practical skills, because they quickly develop into unavoidable responsibilities later in life.


Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called Her new book 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents is on Amazon.