Hand Washing: Your Kids and You

August 24th, 2011by Jessi Arias-Cooper

When your little ones run in from the great outdoors, covered in mud, you know that they’ve been having a good time. One of the best parts of being a kid is getting messy, but it’s important that they know about getting clean!

The most common way in which germs are spread is through unclean hands, causing illnesses such as colds, flues and tummy bugs as well as much more scary infections, like MRSA or meningitis. As a parent, it’s hard enough to watch your kids suffering, let alone knowing that they’re missing out on valuable work and play at school.

So many illnesses are preventable, and the single most important thing you can do to protect your family and yourself is proper hand washing with soap and warm water.

Little (and big!) hands should always be washed properly before:

  • Eating or touching food
  • Visiting a sick person or hospital ward

And after:

  • Going to the bathroom
  • Playing outside
  • Petting or handling animals (this includes Rover and other pets!)
  • Blowing your nose/coughing/sneezing
  • Visiting a sick person or hospital ward
  • Touching anything icky, of course!

Mommy and daddy should also remember to wash up:

  • Before and after touching a cut/wound/burn
  • After touching raw food, particularly meat or fish
  • After changing a diaper
  • After taking out the garbage
  • After smoking.

Proper hand-washing is an essential activity that is all too often neglected, both by kids and grown-ups. We all know that our kids want to be like mom and dad, so now is the prime time to lead by example, encouraging little people both at home and in school in the pursuit of good hand hygiene.

The best way to teach anything to young children is to make it fun, but it also helps to keep it informative and have correct answers to any questions you are bound to be asked. Visit Wash-Hands.com for useful background info and facts about the importance of hand-washing.

Here are some tips for both kids and parents to get scrubbing:

  • Use some fun soaps and scrubbers. If your child has his or her own hand washing kit to use, it will make the process seem more exciting and grown-up.
  • Wash your hands while your child watches, demonstrating the correct technique and explaining what you are doing carefully, not overloading the little ones with facts.
  • Teach children to sing a song while they wash their hands, so they know they’ve spent enough time to clean their hands thoroughly. The correct hand washing procedure should take at least fifteen seconds. To start you off, this is the amount of time it takes to sing the happy birthday song twice. See what you can make up together!
  • Make a hand washing chart, encouraging your child to see how many squares she or he can fill in.
  • Visit Wash-Hands.com for free and fun printable posters and activities which teach the proper steps for hand washing and can be used at home and in schools. Featuring Sammy Soap and The Clean Team, the resources feature the necessary fight against nasty germs, encouraging kids to join in too!

Kids might not initially understand why it’s so important to wash their hands, so be sure to talk to them about it. You could maybe tell them a story about touching something dirty and washing your hands afterwards and what might have happened if you hadn’t done so. Try and bring hand washing into conversations to reinforce its importance, and before you know it, they’ll be spreading the message rather than germs!

The Give Soap A Chance campaign seeks to encourage good hand hygiene in kids and grownups alike. For more information, tips and resources about hand washing and its vital importance for preventing infectious illness, visit Wash-Hands.com.

Photo: flickr.com/photos/nicktakespics/3227330677

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