Teaching children about hand hygiene

“Have you washed your hands?”How many times do you think you have asked this question since becoming a parent?I am estimating the following:At least 5 times per day x 365 days per year x 8 years = 14,600 times … and with four children that is a conservative estimate at that.Viruses and bacteria can live two hours or more on objects your children come into contact with – from the playground swing to toilet seat to toys in a soft play.Years ago, before I had children I worked for the NHS and as part of my training I went on a hand hygiene course. What I learnt terrified me if I am honest.Now, as much as I agree with building the immune system in children, this doesn’t stop me being hot on hygiene. This doesn’t mean I prevent them being children, far from it I just try to ensure that good hygiene is part of their early learning at home and therefore something they can carry with them.So how can you help your child to learn that it is important to wash their hands? I would say firstly explain when it is important to wash your hands and model that behaviour so that children can learn from you how and when they should do this.
Explain to your child that it’s important to wash their hands:

  • Before and after eating meals
  • After petting or touching an animal
  • After blowing noses, wiping noses, coughing, etc.
  • After using the toilet
  • After playing outside
  • Before cooking
  • Before holding a small baby

Buying a hand soap the children like can help. Mine love this one by Childs Farm. They like the smell and they find it easy to use. It also stands well, even on a small sink. 

Children can have a tendency to rush hand washing I find, as they always have somewhere better and more exciting to be. We get around this by following a few easy steps and making it fun.

Step1: Use soap and warm water

Step 2: Scrub your hands whilst singing Humpty Dumpty

Step 3: Rinse your hands

Step 4: Dry your hands properly!

Step 5: Use some hand gel

Children can often not dry their hands very well and wet hands can spread bacteria much more easily than dry hands so we try to ensure this is done properly.

Sometimes they like to spice things up and change the song but using a song passes the time quickly and helps the job get done.

How do you ensure good hand hygiene?

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