Parks, classrooms, playdates. The more you think about it, the more you realize just how active kids are! Kids like to stay busy by having fun and letting their imaginations wander, but it doesn’t make it mess or germ free. Because of their social nature and care-free attitudes, children are the most at risk for catching and spreading infection. Did you know that the more kids you have, the more likely someone in your household will get sick? Yikes.
But talks of germs and proper hygiene with your kiddos isn’t exactly “cool” or “fun” for them. Yet, good hygiene should be taught from a young age so that they’ll form healthy habits. The most important germ fighting practices are proper hand washing, bathing, and teeth brushing.
Hand washing is crucial to staying healthy and it's important for your little ones to know why they should clean their hands.
Teach with an experiment
One great way to help your kids understand how germs and bacteria work is through a fun science experiment. Kids don’t always understand when telling them, so why not show them?!
All you need is some dish soap, pepper, and bowls! Mix pepper into a bowl of water and have your kid dip their finger in there. Explain to them how the pepper is bacteria and when they dip their finger in, some will attach itself to their hand. Then with a clean finger, have them dip it in the dish soap, then stick that finger in the water with pepper again. This time they’ll see the pepper quickly scatter away to the edge of the bowl, away from their hand!
This will help them to visualize how germs work and why it's so important to thoroughly wash your hands. Plus, they’ll have some fun along the way with this experiment!
Get music involved
Have them sing the alphabet or one of their favorite tunes while they wash their hands. You should do it too so that they get the hang of it and see that it shouldn’t be a chore. You can also blast their top song of the week during teeth brushing and bathtime for some added fun. (You might get sick of listening to the Frozen soundtrack, but they won’t!)
Have consistent conversations
But we get it can’t all be fun and games, and that’s okay. The best thing to do is have conversations and lead by example. There are lots of things your kiddos do in a day that warrants a good hand wash! Playing outside, sharing toys with friends, going to the bathroom, and touching items in public spaces. So explain to them how it’s important to wash our hands after these things because even though we can’t always see the “pepper”, it's there. It may feel repetitive, but the more times you acknowledge a situation and why we wash our hands before or after, will help it to stick.
Lead by example
Make this obvious by practicing good hygiene in front of them! If you’re going to wash your hands before making dinner, say it out loud, sing your little song, and explain that we wash our hands before touching food. If you ask them to wash their hands or brush their teeth and they refuse, try to stay calm and suggest you both go do it together. Over time they’ll start to develop these habits and won’t need any more asking or assistance.
By teaching your children proper hygiene, you’re not just protecting them but your entire family. At the end of the day it comes down to talking, practicing, and a little bit of fun. If you start to implement some of these ideas, we promise they’ll catch on quicker than you think!