How To Instill Good Handwashing Habits in Your Kids
Get Your Child Excited About Handwashing
With a big, exciting world full of places to explore and things to touch, it’s hard to explain to your little one why we should practice good hand hygiene to protect our bodies from things we can’t see. Germs can sometimes sound like imaginary characters, like the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus. But because of the damage germs can have on our overall health, it’s important to talk with our kids about what these invisible organisms are and how they affect our well-being.
Explain why it’s important.
Start by describing germs as tiny “bugs” that live on the surfaces of things. Let them know that these tiny creatures are the bad guys that want to try to fight the good guys in your body. Keeping your fingers out of your nose, mouth, ears, and eyes helps keep germs from getting inside the body. We don’t want the bad guys to win because then you’ll get sick and miss out on fun things like going to the park or having play dates with your friends. Consider also looking up images of germs online and showing them to your child. It may help put these harmful creatures into a real-life context without turning handwashing into a horror story.
Get them the right tools.
Building up a child’s habit of washing hands, whether they’re visibly dirty or they’ve just been touching things that are not particularly clean, is a struggle for every parent. It will take some time before the handwashing habit is firmly in place, so try to get your little one fun-looking soap pumps or brightly colored bars in the shape of their favorite character. This will also help your child view hand hygiene as a fun activity and not a chore. If germs fascinate your child, you can create your own germ model using Play-Doh and Q-tips and place it near the sink they normally use. Seeing this germ lurking about can help remind your little one to scrub their hands.
Simplify the technique.
Handwashing may be a habit for you, but for your child, it’s no different than using Fourier’s series to solve differential equations: a distant and seemingly irrelevant concept. Let’s simplify things with almost every preschooler and toddler’s favorite activity: arts and crafts. Spend some time with your child and create a poster showing all the handwashing steps. You can draw pictures, use cutouts from magazines, or download an easy-to-follow instructable. Stick it near your child’s usual sink, and it will act as a visual guide of how to properly wash their hands.
Create rituals and routines.
Kids build healthy habits faster when the task becomes repeatable and predictable, so make sure your little one knows when they should wash their hands. For instance, teach them to wash after visiting the toilet, before eating any meal or snack, after getting home from school, and after playing with pets. Practicing good hand hygiene may take a while to sink in, but it remains one of the most valuable things parents can teach their children to protect their health.
Make Must Love Kids your child’s dental home.
While you cover the importance of handwashing with your child, let us support you in building great oral health habits with them early on. Our highly skilled dentists offer cutting-edge technology in a fun and engaging environment. If you’re ready to book your child’s next dental checkup, we are here to help!