Kids are not born with a developed immune system. Their immune system is weak and is still developing, and hence, they are susceptible to numerous diseases and infections. And to combat this, hygiene is extremely important. One of the cornerstones of teaching your child to have a good sense of hygiene is to teach him why washing his hands is needed.
Importance of Handwashing
The importance of handwashing for children cannot be emphasized enough; a child’s hands are the most exposed part of his body and interact with more germs on an hourly basis than we breathe on a daily basis. These microscopic germs are the cause of some of the most dangerous diseases and illnesses that can occur in children. Therefore, it is important to establish lines of defence against these germs, and the first step towards that is teaching kids the importance of washing their hands, as well as the proper technique to do so, in order to clean their hands.
How Do Germs Spread?
Before learning about the proper technique for washing your children’s hands, it is important to understand the ways germs can spread. Here are the most common ways in which the dangerous germs spread to your child through touch.
- Touching dirty surfaces is the most common way germs can spread to your child. And it’s not just floors! Common surfaces such as computers, bathroom facilities, (even door handles!), and so on, which are shared by many individuals, can become breeding grounds for germs.
- Playing in the dirt is another favourite activity of children that causes germs to spread. This is especially bad due to the amount of unhygienic components that the dirt kids play with is exposed to.
- If your baby is still wearing diapers, he can run his hands on and inside his diapers, which are dirty and can be a source of germs entering his body.
- Germs commonly spread when your child touches someone who is sick or is about to be sick.
- Bad bacteria is all around your child, even in food. If your child touches bad food or water, this bacteria can contaminate him as well.
- Exposure to germs and bacteria can happen through sweat. Your child can contract diseases by touching your sweat, or even his own sweat, that has been contaminated by airborne germs.
Which Infections Can Be Prevented by Washing Hands?
There are numerous types of infections that can be prevented by the simple act of washing your child’s hands. Some of these include the common cold, influenza, hepatitis A, meningitis, and bronchiolitis. It is important to remember that washing your child’s hands with soap kills numerous infectious bacteria and germs that could, if left unattended to, become dangerous.
When Should Kids Wash Their Hands?
Children need to wash their hands various times a day – this is especially required during, before and after certain activities. These activities include:
- Before a meal.
- After a meal.
- After playing in the dirt.
- After waking up.
- Before going to bed.
- After playing a sport.
- After blowing their nose.
- After going to the toilet.
Children need to wash their hands whenever they are exposed to germs. For more situations where children must wash their hands, talk to your doctor to know when they are in contact with harmful germs in common situations.
What is the Right Procedure for Handwashing?
The first thing to consider when teaching your child how to wash hands properly is looking at the proper procedure. Here are the most important hand washing steps for kids to follow:
- When teaching kids to wash their hands, the first step they must know is to rinse their hands using room temperature water.
- The second step is to teach them how to lather the soap. The procedure for lathering soap is to scrub soap around the palms, fingertips, under the nails, between the fingers, and the back of the palm.
- Wash the soap off with room-temperature water.
- Finally, they need to dry their hands with a clean towel.
How to Get Children to Wash their Hands
Children will not always want to wash their hands. They may feel that it is a restriction or a rule, and children always like to challenge their limitations. However, it is important to learn how to get them to wash their hands when they need to. Here are a few tips to help.
- Make it a game: Making washing their hands a game can help kids be excited about their hygiene.
- Sing while washing: Make the process of washing hands fun! An interactive song will motivate them to sing along while washing their hands, making it a fun and entertaining aspect of their day.
- Reward them: By rewarding them for washing their hands, kids can become excited to do so. To do this, first set a benchmark of how many times they need to wash their hands, and the situation they need to do it in. At the end of the day, if successful, they get the reward.
- Talk to them: Kids are smarter than we give them credit for – sit them down and explain to them the purpose of good hygiene. They are sure to understand why washing their hands is so important.
- Teach them through videos: A lot of educational videos for kids have the ability to teach them to wash their hands. Show them a cartoon or video online that teaches them the lesson in a fun way.
Don’ts While Teaching Children About Handwashing
There are some points to consider when teaching a child any habit, especially about hygiene. Here are a few things to avoid when teaching kids to wash their hands.
- Don’t scream at them for not washing their hands.
- Don’t wash their hands for them.
- Don’t let their tantrum take prominence.
- Don’t lose your patience with them.
To better understand the do’s and don’ts of teaching your child any habit, talk to a child psychologist to see which techniques are good and which ones are not.
How to Wash a Baby’s Hands?
When you are incorporating hand hygiene for children, consider their age. Washing a baby’s hand is very different from washing an older child’s hands; here are a few tips for the same.
- Using a warm wet towel, clean your baby’s hand.
- Lather baby soap on their hands gently.
- Using another fresh, warm towel, clean the soap off.
- Soak their hands in a bowl of lukewarm water.
- Wipe with a dry cloth.
It is essential to remember that incorporating healthy hygiene habits like washing hands and brushing teeth should be done from an extremely young age, so that they become a part of your kids’ lives automatically!
Also Read: Essential Healthy Habits for Kids