“Handwashing” might have been the top trend of 2020 (until it was replaced by “social distancing”)! We know clean hands and good hygiene are easy ways to slop or stop the spread of diseases like COVID-19. And as parents, we also know… it can be tough to get our children to understand the importance of good hygiene!
Here are a few things you can try to help your little ones learn healthy hygiene habits.
Thorough handwashing is something even adults sometimes need help mastering! Help children learn to wash thoroughly by putting a stamp on the back of each hand in the morning. If their stamp has been washed off by dinnertime, reward them with a sticker or other small prize.
You probably saw the “viral” video (pun intended) going around last month — give it a try yourself at home! Fill a saucer or small plate with water, then sprinkle pepper on top to represent germs. Ask your kids to put a finger in the dish and see how the pepper sticks to their skin. Then have them dip a clean finger in liquid soap and try again. Soap keeps the germs from sticking! (Technically, it’s a little bit of an oversimplification, but it’s a kid-friendly way of explaining the science of soap.)
The CDC advises coughing or sneezing into a tissue and then throwing it away, but it’s not always realistic to expect a small child to hold in a sneeze until they can find the nearest Kleenex. Luckily, there are fun ways to teach them to cough and sneeze into their elbows, which is a good backup if there’s no tissue handy: the Dab Cough, the Cough Pocket, and the Vampire Sneeze (here’s a fun Vampire Sneeze activity you can make at home)!
If handwashing seems like a chore, fill up the sink and encourage little ones to give their hands a bath, complete with bubbles and bath toys. Mary Poppins was right: Sometimes all it takes is an element of fun to turn a job into a game!
This one might be a last resort, depending on how burned out you are on the song… but there is now a handwashing version of “Baby Shark” that also covers safe sneezes and coughs.