“Did you wash your hands?” How many times do you end up saying that to your kids in one day?? I know I’ve said my fair share when my kids were younger. Between kids playing with bugs and making mud pies there are ample opportunities to be exposed to germs.
And then in late fall and winter, the outbreaks start, especially those infections caused by viruses such as common cold, influenza, hand-foot-and-mouth disease, and Norovirus occur. That’s when young kids especially start the drippy noses, cough without covering their mouths, hug each other incessantly, share stuff at school, and all those other great things that make the spreading of germs so easy. Even when diligent cleaning schedules and procedures are used in schools and daycares etc. to keep surfaces clean and free of germs, it’s likely not be enough. It has to be reinforced and complemented by hand hygiene to prevent the infection-causing germs, also called pathogens, from getting from the contaminated hands into the body’s respiratory or digestive system via the mouth, nose or eyes.
I know that ever since SARS and H1N1, we’ve all been inundated with messages about the importance of hand washing – and I guess this is another reminder – but as parents, we know young kids don’t really care about germs. They just want to get back to playing and having fun as fast as possible!
So, try some of these fun ways to help teach your child how to wash their hands and instill it as a routine:
- Sing a song
- Use coloured or scented soaps
- Create a hand washing chart with stickers
If you want to take it a step further and really teach your kids about germs and the importance of preventing infections, there are also some good sample activities provided by Canadian Red Cross – Bug Out! Get the Facts on Germs. You can also check out our brochure for young age children and their care givers at “Just Wash’em.”
Some final things to keep in mind:
- As children grow up they have a better understanding of why and how hand washing is so important for preventing an infection.
- Until they grow old enough to take care of their hand hygiene, preschoolers and young school aged kids need assistance from parents and teachers.
- At home or at school, when children move from one activity to another it is an opportunity to have a hand washing session or a supervised application of hand sanitizer.
For more tips and hints about preventing infections, or to share your experience, there are many ways you can talk to one of us directly:
- Leave us a comment below – we’d love your feedback
- Talk to us on Twitter: @haltonparents
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call the HaltonParents line for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.
About this guest blogger:
Lucia Salagean is a Public Health Inspector and Specialist in Infection Control. She has worked for the Halton Region Health Department, Health Protection Services since the year 2000. She has experience in health care overseas, pediatrics and parenting. She enjoys spending time with her family and is the proud mother of two wonderful sons who are now Engineers.