As parents, we share with our children every day. But there’s one thing we wish children wouldn’t share quite so freely; their germs! Little hands are constantly exploring – digging in the dirt, playing with pets, and even maybe picking their little nose. It’s easy to see why colds and flu germs spread quickly between children and their family members. So, how can we teach children the importance of good hand hygiene?
The key is making hand washing a regular part of your child’s routine. This means children know they need to wash their hands:
- after using the restroom
- before eating all meals and snacks
- after playing outside
- after playing with pets
Another important factor is making sure children actually wash their hands properly by following this simple method.
4 Steps to Squeaky Clean Hands
1. Water. Get hands wet. The water will give the soap something to “hold onto,” ensuring they get clean.
2. Soap. Use a good amount of soap and work up a lather.
3. Friction. Rub those hands together! Don’t forget to hit places that germs love to hide, like fingernails, between fingers and the inner palms.
4. Time. Wash hands for 20 seconds. Encourage your child to sing the “Happy Birthday” song two times through or their ABCs once, so they know when time is up.
What about hand sanitizer?
These alcohol-based agents kill viruses on contact, and are excellent at reducing germs. However, if dirt is visible on hands, it is always best to wash with soap and water.
Finally, if your child is sick, it’s important they know they should wash their hands frequently and sneeze or cough into their elbow rather than into their hands. Following these simple steps will help everyone around them stay healthy.