How To Help Kids Develop The Habit Of Washing Their Hands
Dirty hands are the lead causes of many known diseases like the flu. Learn the benefits of washing hands and how to help kids develop a habit of handwashing in this article.
Recently, a teacher taught her students the benefits of washing hands through a graphic display. The benefits of washing hands cannot be overstated. But, it’s also true that it is one of those practices most people like to neglect.
This is partly because it is not immediately clear to the eye what happens when we move around with dirty hands because we do not see the virus or bacteria on our hands. As a result, when we fall sick, it’s hard to connect it to the time we worked on a laptop without washing our hands after. In this article, we learn the importance of washing your hands, and also how to help your child develop the habit of washing her hands.
What are the benefits of washing your hands according to science?
According to the CDC, about 1.8 million children under the age of 5 die each year from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia – the top two killers of young children around the world. This piece of data clearly shows the huge benefits of washing hands when you consider the direct connection between those diseases and handwashing.
Sam Stephens, head of Clean the World Foundation, a nonprofit that provides soap and hygiene education to vulnerable communities around the world, agrees that “just hand washing with soap can reduce death rates from these diseases up to 65%. When people wash their hands in the right ways at the right times, it can be more effective than medication, vaccine, or even clean water, as a single intervention against pneumonia and diarrhoea.”
Washing one’s hands does not only prevent pneumonia and diarrhoea. It helps stop the spread of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, thereby reducing diseases like stomach upset, colds and the flu. Below are some benefits of frequent hand washing:
- Prevention of diarrhoea and other diseases
Washing of hands is a sure way to remove the bacteria you or your child may have come in contact with. This helps prevent bacteria that can grow into bodies and become harmful.
- Avoid common eye infections
Taking your hands to your eyes is almost an involuntary action that occurs when you feel the need to touch your eyes. If you don’t wash your hands regularly, you risk taking those bacteria into your eyes, which can cause common eye infections.
- Keeping the home free of bacteria
Keeping the home neat by disinfecting surfaces with alcohol-based cleaning products can reduce bacteria. But this also means you have to wash your hands regularly so that your hands don’t become a way of spreading bacteria around the house.
- Less time off work and school
Bacteria are known for causing diseases like the flu, diarrhoea, and stomach upset. You’re likely to catch any of these diseases if you don’t wash your hands regularly, which means you may have to skip going to work or school.
- Reduced medical bills
Obviously, you have to foot the bills when you or your child gets sick. So trying to prevent these diseases by washing your hands regularly can help reduce the potential of medical bills.
How can I help my child make hand washing a habit?
Parents play an important role in helping their kids understand the benefits of good hygiene through hand washing. Starting early also gives you the edge in making hand washing a habit for your child. So that when he grows up he sees it as a normal routine. You can even make the practice fun and interesting by having a washing hands song. Or turning it into a game. Here’s how to help your child practice hand washing regularly:
- Frequent reminders
Building a habit takes time and work. Make it a habit to remind your child to wash his hands after using the bathroom, before eating, after touching pets, after playing outside, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing their nose.
- Be a role model
Your child is going to be more open to washing his hands regularly when he sees you always doing it. It lets him know that this must be important if you’re doing it regularly.
- Talk about the benefits
As a way of educating your child on why he should wash his hands regularly, talk to him about the diseases that hand washing helps prevent.
When trying to impress the habit of hand washing into your child, there are steps to follow to ensure that the bacteria in the hand are washed away properly. Help your child up or use a safety step to increase his height if his hands cannot reach the sink.
Here are four steps to ensure proper washing of hands:
- Wet your hands and then apply some soap to make suds.
- Rub your soapy hands together for as long as it takes to say “Happy Birthday” twice in your head. Clean your hands well, starting with your palms, back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Hold your hands under clean, running water and rub them to rinse fully.
- Shake your hands a few times, then dry them with a clean towel or hand dryer.
When should my child wash his hands?
Your child should wash his hands before:
- Touching his mouth, eyes, or nose
- Touching a cut or scrape
- Going to the bathroom
- Returning from school
- Playing with animals
- Being on playground equipment
- Blowing his nose
- Being close to a person who is sick
- Touching a dirty diaper
- Touching dirt
- Playing around the house
In a situation where you don’t have access to water and soap, you can use a hand sanitizer. However, using soap and water is the best way to keep your hands clean because hand sanitizer doesn’t remove dirt completely.
Here is how to wash your hands according to the WHO: