*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Dettol.
Let me suggest that kids and dirt and germs are a trilogy of tragedy as far as cleanliness goes. Boys in particular, have an almost unnatural attraction to the lure of grub don't they? I once Pinned a quote that described them as 'noise with dirt on it.'
Oh so true!
I am as militant a Mum as any when it comes to hand washing and small people in general. So nothing grosses me more than seeing my kids feeding their faces after school or play with filthy hands. (No sooner had I typed that sentence when a child appeared next to me doing just that! Eww!)
Promptly sent off to the sink with marching orders!
As adults we're all well aware that poor hygiene habits can lead to illness and the spread of germs. Teaching kids this important lesson can be a bit of a chore though because, let's face it - germs are a bit of a bore since you can't actually see them. Plus, kids are forgetful, disinterested and careless and that's at the best of times.
Possibly the only time I've ever had my kids really engrossed in the good habit of hand washing was following a rotten bout of gastro a couple of years back. The illness cycled through our home several times over for a number of months and in its trail, it seemed to teach the kids through grave necessity, that germs were in fact a very real and devastating thing.
It was a case of 'wha'd'ya know, Mum wasn't telling tales after all!'
Hand washing quickly became an impressive norm around our home but its effects have only been sporadic in the long term. (As in, bordering on forgotten entirely without constant prompting.)
Which quite frankly, leaves me frustrated and still grossed-out on occasion. (Like the instance five minutes earlier in this post!)
Like all things educational when it comes to kids, teaching a lesson is best done in a fun and 'hands-on' approach and learning the importance of hand washing can be all that with a little thought and preparation. Something as simple as filling your kitchen sink with some warm bubbly water filled with some antibacterial hand wash such as Dettol, can pull the interest of the younger kids instantly.
Pop a few plastic dishes or tea set plates and cups in the water and let the kids do some pretend dishes just like Mum and Dad. You can add bath toys too. Water play is a fantastic way to keep the kids' hands in the sink long enough to become effectively clean and germ-free. Consider placing a little bowl of plastic animals next to the sink permanently so that kids can bathe their little friends each time they need to wash.
Regardless of age, begin to teach your children how to wash their hands thoroughly by example. Let them watch you as you demonstrate and lather the front and backs of your hands as well as between your fingers and nails. Keep a nail brush at every sink where the kids can reach it and encourage them to really scrub-up with it.
And one BIG rule - never forget yourself and get caught out not washing your own hands after an outing, a visit to the bathroom or sneezing! Kids are the first to spot your error and will yell about it to everyone within earshot and that my friends, can be so embarrassing! It's the perfect way to undermine your efforts. (But that would never happen right?!)
A Dettol automatic hand soap dispenser placed by your sink can be a great way of encouraging kids to remember to use soap when hand washing too. I have seen my
fussy, grubby, critters kids avoid using an actual bar of soap on so many occasions simply because it had become cracked or dirty from the last use and they couldn't bear to touch it because it looked "Eww!"
The irony of that is lost on them entirely!
For outings and school bags, or when water is simply not available, a small bottle of personal hand sanitiser is perfect for killing germs on the go. Teach your kids how to use a gel sanitiser so that they can protect their health when out and about. They're great for parents too, for dealing with all the grub of the kids, first-aid situations, nappy changes and meal times while out.
Good hand habits can ensure your children remain healthy and likewise, help to prevent the spread of germs in your home. If everyone practices keeping their hands clean, you can really notice a dramatic drop in the incidence of illness within your family circle. Make it a fun exercise for the most vulnerable critters in your life and reap the benefits.
Have you ever played gastro-tag in your house?
How do you encourage and remind your kids to wash their hands at your place?
Recent posts on Six Little Hearts you may have missed: