The most effective way to avoid illness and infection is frequent, thorough hand washing. But, let’s face it, proper hand washing is not the forté of most preschoolers, nor is it their favorite thing to do. The abstract idea that germs they can’t see might affect them or others adversely is a tough one to communicate. So what can we do?
The first step is to teach your child how to wash her hands properly. Use warm water, soap, and scrub all areas of the hands, remembering the nails and between the fingers. How long should you wash? Try a simple song to help your child time herself. Things to Share and Remember highlights a great one:
Remind your child to wash her hands before eating or preparing food, after going to the bathroom, after outside play, or after coughing or blowing her nose.
Preschool-aged children love to create and admire their art, so work with your child to create your own reminders for your bathroom mirror. Small signs attached to the mirror that remind the family to wash their hands and the proper steps in order to do so. Your child can draw a picture and/or copy the words “wash hands.” Consider laminating the sign(s) so it holds up to bathroom moisture.
Allowing your preschooler to “own” their hand washing skills and feel confident will help them remember to wash their hands, and this activity helps teach word recognition, labeling, and proper hygiene.