Before COVID-19, one probably didn’t put much thought into washing hands. A bit of soap and a quick lather seemed adequate. Now, hand-washing is centre stage as a main step to fight the spread of the virus and help people of all ages stay healthy.
Regular hand-washing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick and prevent the spread of germs to others. This not only helps with the COVID-19 virus, but also helps protect you from other viruses, such as cold and flu germs.
COVID-19 is efficiently killed with soap and water, which is why the CDC recommends scrubbing your hands several times a day. However, parents and caregivers may struggle with getting their kids to wash their hands the right way. From impatient toddlers to distracted teens, hand-washing may not be happening correctly.
Some simple steps to consider:
Have a family meeting
Talking about hand-washing casually won’t make a lasting impression. Hand washing is important, especially during the pandemic, so give it the attention it needs by calling a family meeting. Talk about how hand washing kills germs and stay positive, saying how your family wants to be a part of the solution in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Discuss proper hand washing
Proper hand-washing is simple once you know how to do it. First, wet hands with clean water. Apply soap and scrub the entire hand for at least 20 seconds, including between the fingers. Finally, rinse and air dry or use a clean towel. Availability of soap and washing correctly is essential.
Make it fun
What’s typically the hardest part of proper hand-washing is the length of time. To make hand-washing fun, sing a tune for that length of time. For example, sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice to hit the mark. Or, customise a favourite nursery song and sing it for that length.
Praise and rewards
Make hand-washing a part of children’s responsibilities, much how they are expected to make their bed and read daily. You may want to add posters and other reminders to help the family remember the importance of hand washing. Remember, positive reinforcement and recognising a job well done goes much further than scolding when stressing new habits.
Be a role model
When encouraging your family to adopt healthy habits, it’s best to lead by example. Wash your hands regularly using the correct procedures. Sing loud and proud so people know you’re doing it for 20 seconds. Show it’s a priority for you, so your family knows it should be a priority for them.