A few nights ago I sent my son in for his pre-bedtime potty and to wash his hands. He is the child that at age 4 ALWAYS washes his hands after using the restroom as Daycare and myself have installed that method into his head. I noticed he came out of the restroom way too fast. “Hold on, Mister…did you wash those hands?” I got a “Huh?” look and he shoved his hands in my face and I smelled soap. It then hit me….we tell him to wash his hands and he knows to put his hands under running water, use soap and rinse but I have never actually given him any concept of why or how long. At 4 1/2 he is perfectly capable at comprehending the concept so I thought fast about all those books and articles I have come across on creative ways to help him learn and to not just wash his hands or brush his teeth, but to CORRECTLY wash and brush! Here is what I found and will use from now on with my own son……
- 80% of germs are transmitted by hands
- CDC protocol is to wash hands in warm, clean & soapy water for 20 seconds.
- The proper sneeze etiquette is to sneeze into your sleeve, NOT your hands.
Fun Ways to Encourage Hand Washing
- Have your child sing Happy Birthday twice or the Alphabet song..any song, really. It needs to be a minimum of 20 seconds of their hands under water rinsing with soap!
- Glitter! It is great for teaching hand washing for 2 reasons. First, you can put glitter on your hands. The glitter resembles GERMS. Have them see how easily the “GERMS” spread as you shake there hand, open a door, touch the flusher, etc… Second, glitter is a challenge to wash off. Give your child a paper towel and see them struggle removing the GERMS. Then have them rinse under cool water without soap-better, but still doesn’t get the GERMS. Finally, have them rinse with soap and warm water. The GERMS go away!
- Buy the fun and colorful soaps for them
- It takes 3 years for toddlers to grow their 20 primary teeth
- 40% of kids will have a cavity by Kindergarten
- 2-3 years old is when self-dental care should begin-supervising them until about age 6-8
- Use soft Bristle Brush with Flouride paste
- Mix 3-4 drops of red food coloring in about 2-3 tbsp of water. Have your child rinse and spit out carefully into the sink or another cup. Let them look into a magnifying mirror and see their plaque and germs.
- Put Tempura paint between your fingers and give them a piece of string. Demonstrate flossing. The paint is a bit challenging to remove resembling the work it takes to floss well.
- Don’t forget the eyeball catching toothbrushes and toothpaste. Let them be Germ superheros. I did this with my son as I started him brushing his teeth (he brushes after I do it first as he is only 4). We went to the store and he picked out his own toothbrush and paste then he had his “weapons” for fighting the germ monsters that invade his teeth morning and night!