One of the most powerful ways to keep your children healthy also is one of the easiest: regular and frequent hand-washing.
In our centers, we teach and help all children to wash their hands properly and often.
Families can help by reinforcing good hand-washing habits at home. Luckily, all you need is soap, water…and a little bit of persistence.
The Quick Guide to Hand-Washing
Make hand-washing a habit. People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realizing it, and this is one of the main ways germs can travel from person to person. We all know to help children wash their hands after using the bathroom, but also encourage your kid to wash up before and after eating, after playing with shared toys, after blowing their nose or coughing or sneezing, after coming indoors from outside play, or after playing with pets.
Use soap! Soap lifts dirt and germs from skin.
Scrub up. During lathering, make sure kids clean between fingers, around nails, and under their fingernails—places where germs tend to be concentrated.
Sing. The length of time you wash matters. Help your kids lather and scrub their hands for about 20 seconds. Need a timer? Have your kids sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” or the “ABC’s.”
Cool water works, too. It turns out that the water’s temperature isn’t a big factor in removing the microbes that may cause illness. Whatever the temperature, running water is key and cool water may even be gentler on sensitive skin.
Change your towel. Make sure your hand towel is clean. Change it frequently to ensure it doesn’t become a place where germs hide.
It’s not just your family and children who benefit, hand-washing keeps the whole community healthier. The Centers for Disease Control shows proper hand-washing can reduce respiratory illnesses, like colds, by 21 percent and reduce the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 31 percent.