Good personal hygiene is one of the most important basic skills you can teach your child, especially during cold and flu season. It might seem like an impossible task when your kids are famous for sticking their hands in every dirty, messy, dusty, slimy, and yucky thing they see but there are a number of ways to make hand washing for children something fun that they’ll not only love doing but look forward to and start doing instinctually.
Frequency + Consistency = Success
Just like with any new habit or skill it’s important to let hand washing saturate your child’s daily routine. When you decide it’s time to begin, be sure to start first thing in the morning and keep steady throughout the day. Every trip to the potty should be followed by a stop at the sink and each meal should be prefaced with clean hands. If your child isn’t potty trained yet you can still encourage lots of hand washing by bringing him/her with you whenever you wash, especially after diaper changes. The formula of frequency + consistency = success will quickly prove true as hand washing becomes second nature.
Make sure you have lotion readily available to help combat dry hands, especially during the winter months.
Know your ABCs
Lots of kids are so focused on what’s coming next that they might try rushing through what’s happening now. To keep them from getting a few drops of water on their hands and calling them clean, implement the ABC method of hand washing. It goes a little something like this:
- Wet hands under running water
- Apply 1-2 squirts of soap to hands (make it even more fun with colorful kid-friendly soaps in yummy smells)
- Scrub away while singing the ABCs!
- Rinse until the suds are gone.
These are four simple steps with four note-worthy perks. Hands get clean, your kids learn their ABCs, a new habit is formed, and everyone has fun! I know as parents we have to endure hearing children’s tunes over and over again, so if the ABCs start getting to you, switch it up with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or Baa Baa Black Sheep. They still get the same amount of time scrubbing but you get a little break from having LMNOP on repeat all day.
It’s kind of a big deal
If you’ve spent any time with children you should know that the more fun you have in a situation, the more fun they have, and the more likely they are to repeat it again later. What does that have to do with hand washing? Whenever your child successfully washes his/her hands, it’s your job to go into celebration mod: clap, cheer, high-five, fist bump, and jump up and down to let your child know how proud you are and to help them associate hand washing with a jolly-good time.
Step it up at home
The importance of hand washing can be learned at a very young age but there is one key ability every child needs in order to make it a habit in his/her life. The ability to reach into the sink! Step stools in your home will encourage independent washing and give your child immediate ‘big kid’ status so make sure they are readily available. There’s nothing quite like the pride that will be plastered across your little one’s face when he comes running out of the bathroom after the first time he washes his hands on his own.
Kick some germy butt
Another way to help encourage some real cleaning is to get your kids on the germ-fighting train. Explain to the munchkins that soapy bubbles are like crime fighting power-suds ready to defend their little hands from evil germs. This tactic obviously might work better for little boys but the idea behind protecting from germs is beneficial for both boys and girls.
What are some other ways you can instill good hand washing habits with your kids? Any tactics you’ve used that were worthy of a gold star? Share in the comments!
Speaking of hygiene, does anyone in your child’s school have lice? If so, you might want these natural lice remedies handy.