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How to Make Handwashing Fun for Children

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How to Make Handwashing Fun for Children

Oct 22, 2013

They're cute and they're sticky, but the tiny hands of busy little children are also covered in germs! As simple as it is to do, kids don't always think about washing their hands, yet it's the best way to prevent colds and flu. Dr. Cindy Gellner has some great tips for getting children to lather up! You'll also learn the spot most kids (and adults) miss and how a cool trick with glitter can make hand washing fun.

Episode Transcript

Dr. Cindy Gellner: Get your kids in the hand washing habit by making it fun. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner, and that's today on The Scope.

Announcer: Medical news and research from University of Utah physicians and specialists you can use for a happier and healthier life. You're listening to The Scope.

Dr. Cindy Gellner: Hand washing is hands down one of the best ways that you guys can get your kids to be healthy and keep away from colds and flus this season, but getting your kids to wash their hands and do it right can be a battle. Here are some things that you can do to make hand washing fun. You can sing a song. My kids sing the ABC's when they wash their hands.

You can also sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," or "Happy Birthday." The main thing is it wants to be a 20 second long song. That's the amount of time that you should wash your hands to get all of the germs off. Don't forget your fingernails. Viruses love to live around your fingernails.

You can do a chart for hand washing. Do it just until they get into the habit so they realize, "Okay, I came home from school. What the first thing I need to do? Wash my hands." They wash their hands, they get a sticker and then they can have the rewards.

You can do fun soaps. They've got a whole bunch of soaps out there that make it all sorts if fun. There's the Kandoo brand and all of the other ones that come in different colors and smells and everything. Anything that you can do to make this an enjoyable habit for your kids is going to go a long way.

There's also a couple of really cool glowing gels. You can actually teach your kids how well they wash their hands. There are a couple of kits, one is about $10, and it's called Glow Germ. What you can do is put the gel on their hands, let them rub their hands together and let them go touch things. Then use a black light to see how dirty they got everything without touching their hands. Then you can also put it on and wash their hands, and then show them exactly where their hands were still dirty.

If you don't want to go out and buy a big fancy kit here's another cool little trick you can do. Get some glitter. Kids love glitter. Put a little glitter on their hands and then let them go play. Then a little bit later on have them go around and see where is all of the glitter in the house because it's probably not just on their hands. That's another way for you to see where the germs go if you don't wash your hands.

Don't forget to wash your hands too. Kids are going to learn from what you do, so if they don't see you do it, talk to them about how you do it. If they're washing their hands, get on in there and get your hands clean too. Everybody can use a little hand washing around now.

If you aren't around water and soap, what you can use is hand sanitizer. Be sure to use the gel sanitizer. It works a little bit better than the foam one. The other thing is be sure you let it dry completely before touching anything so you can make sure that it works properly.

Believe it or not, hand washing can make a huge difference in how many times you and your children get sick. Kids need to remember to wash their hands. Make it fun. Kids will remember fun things.

I hope these tips helped you. If you have any fun ways to get your own kids to wash their hands please be sure to post them in the comments. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner, and thank you for listening to The Scope.

Announcer: We're your daily dose of science, conversation and medicine. This is The Scope, University of Utah Health Sciences Radio.