Kids don’t always understand why they need to wash their hands, and it can be a difficult habit to instill. How can you encourage your children to wash their hands? It’s really not that difficult, as it turns out. There are a handful (sorry) of ways to build a solid habit and also keep it fun.
As we’ve learned, washing your hands is only effective at killing germs if you wash for 20 seconds. Most children wash their hands for a few short seconds. 20 seconds is a really long time for a short attention span! Why not make that 20-second period fun? Sing a song, count, do a dance, anything. Find what fits for your children and make it last for 20 seconds. Easy and done.
It’s worth noting that like any good, new habit, building handwashing skills takes time. Once you’ve taught the 5 basics (wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry), we find it best to move into a “reminder” phase. Kids (and anyone, really) sometimes don’t know the best time to wash their hands. If little hands are covered with goop, well, that’s an easy one. But unseen dirt and exposure is where good reminders come in to play. Remind children to wash their hands after using the bathroom, before eating, after touching pets, after playing outside, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing their nose.
Having handwashing “stations” around helps a great deal, too. Stools for sinks, fun scrubbing devices, playful soaps… All of these things make this repeated task easy and fun. Lastly? Praise. Lots of it. Turn handwashing into something your child can take pride in. Give them praise for doing it right. It may seem silly, but remember that proper hand washing needs to become a life-long habit.
And the good news? Once handwashing becomes a habit, once they know when and how to do it? They will be lifelong handwashers. We’d be remiss to not remind you of the other good habits: twice daily brushing, of course. Daily flossing. Regular checkups. And stick with the best pediatric dentist in Westerville–Westerville Pediatric Dental. Stay safe and call us to set up your kids’ checkups.