Hand hygiene has always been one of the simplest and most efficient ways of preventing infections. Nevertheless, it was only after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that many people realized just how important it is. Interestingly, even though we were all taught from an early age about hand hygiene, sometimes even adults are negligent about it. So how can you help your kids develop healthy and lifelong habits? Here are some ideas on teaching children about the importance of hand hygiene.
Children are smarter than you think, and even before they can talk, they can understand many things. So, it’s never too soon to start teaching them about the importance of hand hygiene.
- In the beginning, you can explain the concept of hand hygiene like a story in which the germs are the bad guys and water and soap are the good guys. Or, if you lack imagination, you can look up age-appropriate books on this topic.
- Once they are old enough to walk and reach a sink, explain the hand-washing process, which involves wetting, lathering, scrubbing, rinsing, and drying.
- These habits develop in time, so make sure that even when your children reach school age, their teachers continue to explain the importance of hygiene.
Be a role model
Kids learn a lot of things through imitation, especially at an early age, so you should pay attention to your actions. Make sure you always wash your hands and keep explaining to your children why you’re doing that and show them how to do it. Setting a good example is vital.
Caption: Teaching children about the importance of hand hygiene is best done by setting a good example.
Alt-tag: Children’s hands over the sink
It’s important to remind children about the importance of hand hygiene because they develop many habits through repetition. Apart from constantly telling them to wash their hands, you can also print a poster explaining the hand-washing procedure and hang it in the bathroom near the sink. Another good way to remind kids about hand hygiene is to place hand sanitizer dispensers all over the house. Let them see you using it from time to time, and rest assured they will repeat the action.
Make teaching children about the importance of hand hygiene fun
When an activity is tedious, children quickly lose interest in it. Therefore it’s important to make it fun so that they don’t do it out of obligation but out of pleasure.
Teach children the importance of hand hygiene through music
Since hand-washing involves 20 seconds of scrubbing, which is a long time for children, you can teach them a 20-second song that they can sing in front of the sink. The traditional ones are “Happy birthday” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” sung twice, but you can come up with a different song to make things more interesting.
Make a game out of it
You can print various posters of visual games and place them near the sink. This way, children will have an occupation while washing their hands.
Use fun soap dispensers
You can make your children more interested in washing their hands by buying various colorful soap dispensers or some with their favorite cartoon characters.
Caption: Buy colorful soap dispensers to make hand-washing more attractive.
Alt-tag: A little boy in kindergarten holding a yellow soap dispenser
Buy scented soaps
You can make hand-washing a more pleasant activity for your children by buying various scents of soap or even teaching them how to make homemade soap.
Hand-washing and hand-sanitizing
Many people don’t actually know the difference between hand-washing and hand-sanitizing, but it’s straightforward, and you can also explain this to your children. Hand sanitizers kill off the germs on your hands, while soap and water only remove them without killing them. In any case, both methods are equally efficient.
When it comes to children, it’s important to explain to them when and why they need to use these hand hygiene methods. Here are some examples.
It would help if you taught your children that they need to wash their hands as frequently as possible, not only before they eat something or after using the toilet. Explain to them that germs can be found on any surface they touch and that they can enter their body through their eyes and nose, not just their mouth.
The truth is that it’s tough to maintain hand hygiene while traveling. You might have developed an entire system at home to remind your children to wash their hands, but they no longer have that on a trip. Besides, it often happens that there’s no source of soap and water nearby. Therefore, you should pack a lot of hand sanitizer.
Moving out of your old home and into the new one is already a very stressful and exhausting process, but it can be overwhelming when you also have your kids to look after during the move. Besides, they will touch everything, and you won’t be able to supervise them constantly to make sure they don’t place their dirty hands in their mouths.
The best advice when moving with kids is to try to stay calm during the process and reason with them. Explain that there will be people coming in and out of your home that can bring germs (a.k.a. the bad guys) with them and that it’s important to use hand sanitizer to fight them off constantly. If you make it sound like a game, you might get lucky and make them listen.
Teaching children about the importance of hand hygiene is essential because their immune system is not very well-developed yet. Therefore they are more susceptible to getting sick. Moreover, the sooner they develop this habit, the better, as it will stick with them for the rest of their lives. The critical element of this teaching process is patience. Don’t expect your children to learn and remember to wash their hands all the time, because after all, they are still kids. But they will get there in time.
Meta Description: If you want to prevent your children from contracting infections, here are some ideas on teaching children about the importance of hand hygiene.