COVID-19 is teaching the world the importance of washing our hands. Adults everywhere are taking handwashing seriously to help prevent the spread of the infection; but how do we communicate the importance of hand hygiene to toddlers? With love, of course!
Toddlers are by nature messy: they have an inborn need to touch every surface, including their mouth and face. Hands get dirty frequently. They are also reluctant to wash well and some don’t want to wash at all. We can help them by developing sweet rituals around the handwashing experience with three simple tips:
1. Set an expectation around handwashing
Start with first/the statement to set the expectation that hands are going to be washed. For example, “First, we will play outside! Then we will wash our hands!” or “First we will wash our hands! Then we will eat a cookie!” Wash their hands after coming inside of the house, after errands or play, after using the restroom, before eating, after coughing or sneezing, or any time you come into contact with something considered dirty.
Written by Sara Connolly, MD, FAAP, Board Certified Pediatra