Do your children know the proper technique for hand washing? No? Mine either, and I’m a nurse. We practice and practice, and Max knows some of the times he should wash his hands like before he eats. But training a toddler healthy habits is like shaving a grizzly bear: they don’t like it. With pleas that he will grow up to a big kid, he just wants to rush through and get to the fun part – eating.
What’s the best way to teach your child to wash their hands? Teach them about the yucky germs! Make hand-washing fun (but not too fun, or you’ll be in for quite the clean up).
According to the CDC, there are several essential steps in hand washing, in case you need a review before moving on to those toddlers:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Sounds great, right? Easy enough? Now try convincing a toddler that this is more important than the yummy treat awaiting them after they’re done. Or the simply awesome toy they’re dying to play with. Doesn’t go over so well.
Fun tips for helping your child get interested in hand washing (because honestly, this is so important to prevent kids from bringing home all sorts of germs from school or daycare)
1. Get your child involved. Let them pick out a soap that they want to use. So what if it’s got paw patrol or Disney princesses on it, I’ll take that over the dreaded norovirus any day of the week. Let them pick out a hand towel at the store. One just for them to dry their hands. Designate it so it doesn’t get used by other family members. Letting children be in control, especially those independence-hungry toddlers, is beneficial.
2. Let the child pick a song to sing when hand-washing. Yes, count in your head and make sure it’s not a 10-second rendition of twinkle twinkle little star. But this goes right back to the control factor. They got to choose which song that they wanted to sing, instead of having to sing that song they didn’t get to pick themselves.
3. Germ education! Talk to your kids about those yucky little germs. Use terms they are able to understand. Words like influenza and norovirus are going to go right over their little heads. They don’t care. But those yucky mean germs on their hands and their noses, they can grasp that!
Hand-washing is important. I try to have Max wash as soon as we get home every day. It helps wash off those yucky germs from school, before he touches everything else in the house.