They are cute, but the tiny hands of busy little children are also covered in germs! As simple as it is to do, kids don't always think about or want to take the time to wash their hands. Yet it's the best way to prevent colds and flu. According to research, the simple act of hand washing reduces the risk of getting a stomach bug by as much as 47 percent.
What Your Child Should Know:
- Which sink handle is for cold water and which is for warm water.
- How to turn the water on and off.
- Some sense of how much soap is needed for one hand-washing session and how to operate a soap dispenser.
- How to rub hands together to wash the germs away.
- How to rinse hands completely.
- How to use one (or two at the most) paper towel for drying hands or how to operate a hand-drying machine.
- How to throw used paper towels in the trash, rather than leaving them on the floor.
How You Can Help:
- Have your child wash her hands along with you so you can model the process. Use a little self-talk (that is, talk out loud to yourself about what you are doing as you go through the process). “First, I need to turn on the water. Then I need to put one pump of soap on my hands…”
- Sing a song such as the ABC's, "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," or "Happy Birthday." The main thing is to choose a 20 second long song. That's the amount of time that you should wash your hands to get all of the germs off. Don't forget your fingernails. Viruses love to live around your fingernails.
- You can do a chart for hand washing. Do it just until they get into the habit so they realize, "Okay, I came home from school. What is the first thing I need to do? Wash my hands." They wash their hands, they get a sticker and then they can have the rewards. Children need to know that you should wash your hands:
- after being outdoors or getting your hands dirty
- after using the bathroom
- after touching animals
- before and after touching food
- after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.