Hand washing is a child’s best defense against germs. When we teach kids to wash their hands whenever they use the bathroom, and to wash up before they eat anything, they will carry the habit with them to school. While hand washing is a simple process, it’s a healthy habit we need to teach them. In the beginning it takes constant reminding, much like other simple tasks we teach our kids.
Place a step stool near the sink and keep it readily available at all times. The step stool could be the same one you use for potty training. Check that kids can reach the faucet handles and the soap while on the stool. Young children may need help turning the water on and off if the sink is wide. You may also need to move the soap to a more kid-friendly location on the sink.
Turn on the water and show your child how to adjust the water to a warm temperature. Demonstrate how to wet the hands, including the backs of the hands and the wrists.
Pump out soap from a liquid dispenser and show kids how to lather up and make bubbles. The bubbles will appeal to kids, providing a sensory experience for young children. Consider using colorful soap or soap that makes a rich lather. For toddlers and preschoolers, let them play with bathtub crayons in the sink, or fun-shaped soap bars that appeal to them.
Sing a song while washing hands. The U.S. Food and Nutrition Service advises teaching kids to wash their hands while singing the ABCs, which takes 30 seconds. For kids who can count, let them count to 30 as they wash their fingers, between their fingers, their palms the backs of the hands and their wrists. Show kids how to rinse off their hands with the water.
Use a towel to thoroughly dry hands. Show kids how to use the towel to turn off the water first. This will be a useful lesson for when they use public bathrooms without sensor faucets. Wipe one hand and then the other, with the towel. Explain that their hands should feel dry and warm, and if they’re hands feel cold they may need to dry them more.
- Show kids how to use warm water, not cold water, and not hot water which may hurt them and scare them from using the sink.