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little girl washing hands with momWe can all do our part to prevent the spread of germs but it’s especially important that kids are taught how to avoid getting sick. Developing healthy habits early, like thorough handwashing, can help these behaviors become lifelong practices.

How can parents teach their kids proper handwashing techniques and general cleanliness to stay safe and healthy?

How to Wash Your Hands

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), handwashing can stop one in five respiratory infections. Unless their hands are covered in dirt from playing outside, it can be hard for children to grasp the concept of germs.

Explain to your kids that germs on their hands can lead to the spread of bacteria, but proper handwashing can get rid of them. The CDC promotes five key steps to washing our hands:

  • Wet: Place your hands under clean, warm running water
  • Lather: Pump soap into your hands and lather between your palms.
  • Scrub: For at least 20 seconds, rub soap all over your hands, including between fingers and under the nails.
  • Rinse: Run your hands under clean, warm running water to remove all soap.
  • Dry: Use a clean towel or hand dryer to completely dry your hands.

If clean water and soap are not readily available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. This product will kill some germs, but still wash your hands as soon as possible.

Give Frequent Reminders

It will take some time to make handwashing a regular habit, but frequent reminders keep the concept fresh in your child’s mind. Instances when hands should be washed include:

  • Before and after eating
  • After toilet use
  • After blowing one’s nose
  • Before and after treating a wound
  • After playing outside
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • After touching pets
  • After handling garbage

Washing your own hands often sets a good example for others in the household. Combined with regular reminders, handwashing will soon become second nature to everyone.

Other Every Day Habits

Cleanliness and sanitation expand beyond handwashing. As a general rule, children should know to stay away from people who are sick and to not touch anything they have touched.

When global health concerns impact the lives of children, such as the recent Coronavirus outbreak, parents should calmly explain the situation without inciting fear. Encourage them to ask questions and answer them as honestly as possible.
For more information and resources, please contact Carrier Academy of Learning.