Tips to encourage hand washing in children!

Potty training has it’s own struggles, none the least of which is making sure everything goes into the right place, if you catch my drift! A remaining issue with potty training is making sure the little guys wash their hands properly, and that this happens without fail after going to the toilet, before eating or handling food.
Here are some tips to help them remember to scrub a dub dub!

Make it playful

Kids don’t always enjoy washing their hands because it can take time out of fun things like playing. A trick to encouraging hand washing is to make it all part of the fun. Have a fun, colourful soap for them to use, as well as a mirror for them to look at themselves while they wash their hands.

Make it comfortable

Where possible, make sure the water is at a nice even temperature definitely not too hot (!) but not too cold either that it’s uncomfortable. You want them to enjoy the experience.

Make the equipment child friendly by providing a secure step for sinks that are out of the child’s reach.

Even when out and about

When out and about with no access to hand washing facilities, or ones that are not child friendly either provide hand sanitizer and show them how to rub it in until it disappears, or take your time and help them wash their hands in the adult facilities.

But why is it important?

Preschool age children largely learn about the world by interacting with their senses – they understand what they see, touch, hear, taste and smell. But germs that live on our hands are invisible, so we have to teach children in a fun, understandable way why it’s important to wash our hands.

  • Germs are everywhere, even though we can’t see them.
  • Some germs can make us sick if they get inside the body through our noses or mouths.
  • But washing our hands with soap and water helps to wash germs away, so we don’t get sick.

Glitter Germ Game

  1. Take a small amount of glitter and tell your child to rub it on their hands.
  2. Tell them that even though we can’t see them, that’s the amount of germs we have on our hands!
  3. With water, help your child rub off as many ‘glitter germs’ as possible. Some should still be remaining.
  4. Tell you child that water got of some of the glitter germs, but not all of them which is why we need to use soap.
  5. With soap and water wash off the rest of the ‘glitter germs’, explaining why it’s important to use soap and water when we wash our hands.
Be a role model

There’s no point trying to tell your child to wash your hands before they eat, if you don’t do the same! Make it part of the routine and soon you’ll both do it before you need reminding.

Other fun tips to encourage hand washing
  • Sing a song with them – tell them we must wash our hands for the length of ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’ or ‘Incy wincy spider’
  • Count to ten – encourage numeracy skills while you encourage good hygiene!
  • Use a star chart that you can mark off every time your child washes their hands.
  • Play a guessing game – have your child guess how many more times they will be able to wash their hands until the soap runs out! *Requires longevity
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