Although handwashing is the simplest way to prevent your child from falling sick, it is not easy to get your child into this ‘good habit’. How can you make the ‘activity’ fun? Find out.
One rainy September morning, eight-year-old Akhil is busy playing in the slush in the garden near his house. He loves jumping in muddy puddles, cuddling his pet and splashing dirt all around. Like any other boy his age, Akhil loves indulging in little mischievous acts.
No problem with that. But, soon after he finishes the ‘muddy musings’, the real problem starts. Despite his mother cautioning him more than once, he refuses to wash his hands. The next morning, Akhil suffers a severe bout of diarrhea and vomiting. The doctor finds a strong presence of bacteria in his gut, which can be treated only with a good dose of antibiotics. And this isn’t the first time for Akhil. He is known to fall sick often. Akhil could’ve saved all the trouble by simply washing his hands properly before eating!
Why is it important to wash hands?
Germs are omnipresent. Our hands act as their carriers. Since it is hard to avoid contact with the bacteria, it is important that children wash their hands at regular intervals.
Germs can potentially get inside our body through our hands. Remember:
- Faeces from humans or animals are major carriers of germs that can cause diarrhoea, respiratory problems or hand-foot-mouth disease. The sand or mud in the ground can be carriers of these germs.
- Germs can also enter our body when another person sneezes and coughs near us.
- Touching contaminated objects and not washing hands thoroughly is another way germs spread.
When should children wash their hands?
Washing hands at regular intervals is important to ensure your child’s good health and hygiene. However, care should be taken to see it is done in the right manner. You should not overdo it. In September 2016, the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) issued a final ruling that antibacterial wash products like soaps, foams and gels containing certain ingredients cannot be sold over the counter. This ban was imposed in the US after studies conducted by the organisation showed these products might be hampering immunity by destroying good bacteria. Plus, there was no scientific proof to suggest that antibacterial ingredients improved the efficacy of these products.
Dr Indira Chaturvedi, a paediatrician cautions against being obsessive about handwashing. “Take care of hands only when you feel it is required. For children, don’t use strong products like Sterilium as it is for adults and practitioners. Children tend to put their hands in the mouth and so, washing with soap and water is the best bet. If using a handwash product that is available in the market, seek advice from your doctor,” she says. Be careful but don’t be ‘scared’ of infections all the time. Follow a prescribed washing routine at home, school or while playing with friends.
How can I make handwashing fun?
• Sing along: Sing a song with your child as she washes her hands. Ensure the song is 20 seconds long.
Here’s a rhyme you can sing with your child when he’s washing his hands:
Soap on the front
Soap on the back
My hands are clean
Dirt don’t come back
Rub both hands
Rub, Rub, Rub,
Now wash it all away
And let’s shout yay!
- Reward chart: Maintain a chart with a reward point system. Whenever it is necessary and your child washes her hands, draw a star on the chart. Once your child receives 10 stars, reward her with her favourite food or an extra hour of play time.
- Magnifying glass: Ask your child to look at the palms through a magnifying glass every time he washes his hands for a clear, clean picture of the hands after washing.
- Your child’s very own handwashing station: It might be difficult for your child to reach the washbasin. Set up an exclusive handwashing station or keep a little step stool near the basin for your child. Keep a tray with her favourite handwash, a towel and a basin with water.
- Help me: Fill a small tub with water and add a little liquid handwash to it. Put in a clean spoon or ladle and ask your child to help you wash it. This way, your child washes his hands clean without realising he’s actually doing it.
We hope this article helps in reinforcing the simple practice that leads to a healthier lifestyle for you and your child. So, what are you waiting for? Go #handwashing now and send us a picture of your child doing it.
When to wash hands
- It's Diwali time! Remember to wash hands thoroughly after bursting crackers.
- Wash hands before and after eating or especially after touching spicy food.
- Wash hands and feet once you return home from school, a hospital visit, the playground or any public place.
- Make it a practice to wash hands thoroughly after petting an animal.
- It is very important to wash your hands after using the toilet.
- Wash hands frequently during an outbreak of an illness in the family or at school.
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