Proper handwashing techniques are super important, all the time. But I know the importance is being hyped up right now due to all the media coverage on coronavirus.
But this had me thinking, I know my own kids aren’t washing their hands thoroughly or often enough.
So I created a poster and a social story about hand washing, which you can download at the bottom of this post.
Tools and Tips for Teaching Proper Handwashing to Children
Only 20% of people wash their hands every time before preparing and eating food.
Only 75% of women and 50% of men wash their hands every time they use the washroom.
Do you really think your kids’ hand washing skills are up to par?
Think about it.
Quick Facts about Handwashing
- 80% of communicable diseases are transferred by touching your own eyes, nose, mouth, or your food.
- Every time a toilet is flushed with the lid up, a fine mist containing bacteria such as E. Coli and Staph is spread over an area of 6 square meters. The area around sinks in public bathrooms is 90% covered in such bacteria. (source)
- Damp hands are 1000x more likely to spread germs than dry hands. The most sanitary way to dry your hands is with paper towel.
- A study of elementary school students found that children who washed their hands regularly had 51% fewer sick days than those who did not.
Improving Your Child’s Hand Hygiene
Keep their nails short
Most of the bacteria on your hands is on the fingertips and underneath their fingernails.
Keep your child’s fingernails short so there’s less space for bacteria to become trapped.
Sing their ABC’s while washing
You should spend at least 30 seconds lathering the soap on your hands when you’re washing them.
Tell your child to sing their ABC’s in their head (or out loud if they need to) while rubbing the soap in their hands to ensure they spend enough time on this task.
Use visual cues
Visual cues are a great way to remind children to wash their hands.
It’s hard being a kid and establishing new habits!
We have several visual cues in our home. One of them is directly across from the toilet and has visuals for using the washroom, wiping, flushing, and washing hands.
The other is a poster near the sink showing the steps for washing your hands.
The third one is a sign on the door that says “STOP! Did you wash your hands?”
You can download these visuals at the bottom of this post.
Improve Handwashing, Improve Their Life
According to the CDC, children who got handwashing promotion for 9 months, meet their developmental milestones 6 months earlier than children who did not.
They found children scored better across 5 developmental domains:
This is not because children with clean hands are magically smarter. It’s because they’re healthier – they miss less school and social interaction due to illness so therefore they have more opportunities to learn.
Visual Tools for Handwashing
I created three visual tools to help you promote handwashing with your children. These are perfect for home and school.
Social Story: Why handwashing is important
This is just a short but sweet script explaining the importance of handwashing in a child-friendly way, with simple visuals.
How to Wash Your Hands
This visual breaks down washing your hands into 6 steps, with visuals for each step.
Laminate and hang this poster above your sink as a visual reminder each and every time your child washes their hands.
The last visual is a stop sign for the door. So in case your child forgot and completely bypassed the sink, they’ll see the stop sign altering them to wash their hands when they leave the washroom.