Handwashing: How to Teach Children Good Hand Hygiene

To prevent germs and avoid getting ill, it is important that children know how to wash their hands properly. To teach your kids how to wash their hands, it is worth washing your hands together so that they pick up on how important it is to have good hand hygiene. Early learning is crucial, teach your kids to wash their hands from a young age and lead by example.

 The best method of washing hands

  1. First of all, teach your kids that they need to wet their hands with clean, warm water. Make sure the water is not too warm for your child’s hands.
  2. Apply some soap to the hands and lather this for around 20 seconds. It’s not necessary to have antibacterial soap as any soap is sufficient. A good tip would be to sing the song ‘Happy Birthday’ out loud twice as this is as long as you should be washing your hands.
  3. It’s important to teach your child to clean the backs of their hands, between the fingers and underneath the nails where germs like to live. It’s also important to teach them to clean their wrists.
  4. Finally, teach your child to rinse their hands thoroughly and dry them using a clean towel.

When do hands need washing?

In order to prevent germs from spreading, it’s important to have a regular routine when it comes to hand washing. The hands need to be washed in these instances:

  • Before cooking
  • Before eating
  • After using the bathroom
  • After touching animals, even pets
  • After cleaning
  • After sneezing, coughing and blowing the nose
  • When coming indoors after being outside
  • Regularly when at daycare
  • Before and after taking care of or visiting a sick person.

How you can help

 In order to ensure your children pick up the importance of good hand hygiene, follow the below tips:

  1. Patience

    It’s not unusual for a child to take a while to get into a good habit of washing their hands and doing it properly.  When necessary, make sure you are there to assist your child.

  2. Reminders

    Quite often, children will naturally wash their hands if they can actually see something on their hands i.e. paint or dirt. However, it’s also important to teach children that they cannot see germs, but their hands still need to be washed.

  3. Lead by example

    It’s crucial that you practice what you preach. I.e before you cook any food, before you begin eating and after using the bathroom etc make sure your children see you wash your hands.

  4. Hand sanitizer

    If you are out, for example, just finished preschool or daycare and don’t have access to soap and water than hand sanitizer is a good backup option. Make sure the sanitizer you use is an alcohol-based sanitizer and contains at least 60% alcohol. Place one squirt of hand sanitizer into your child’s palm. Ask your child to rub their hands, including the fingers and the front and back of the hands until the sanitizer dries up.