Germs are everywhere. They can be transmitted from the hands, feet and skin into the body causing diarrhoea, food poisoning, respiratory infections and malnutrition. They may not be visible to the naked eye. They may reside in the toys children play with, in the handrails of the public transport that people use and in other objects of everyday use. The growing pollution levels and population density cause rapid spread of germs. Hence, it becomes imperative that we focus on protecting ourselves and our children from disease-spreading germs. Simple concepts about germs being present everywhere and how you can prevent these germs from disrupting a healthy life must be stressed upon at an early age in children, at a time when they are still building habits.
As per Public Health Association, almost 47% of the population in India does not wash their hands with soap after defecation, 62% does not wash hands with soap before eating and 70% does not wash hands with soap before preparing food. It’s critical to establish simple habits of hygiene among children to ensure that they grow up healthy and strong.
It is important to understand that to establish hygiene habits among children, you must engage them so that they can be educated.
This World Water Day, we share some simple tips to inculcate hygiene among children.
- Start with the basics: Hand washing is the most vital hygiene practice that you can teach children. It is important to explain and talk to them about the times it is critical to wash hands – before eating, after toilet use, before serving and cooking food, after coming back from play. Parents should encourage children to wash their hands with soap always.
- Toilet training: It is important to train your child to use the toilet appropriately and wash their hands with soap and water after toilet use. Also teach them to flush after every toilet use, to ensure germs are washed away.
- Keep the surroundings clean: Don’t leave water in open containers for a long time. Kids should be trained not to litter. Household waste should be disposed of in a separate place to keep surroundings clean.
- Safe storage and consumption of water: Water should be stored in clean vessels and used only with the help of a ladle or a tap. Always keep water and eatables covered. If you are ill, drink boiled water.
- Make it a routine: Children thrive on routines. You can incorporate basic practices into your daily ritual. For example, bathing regularly, maintaining self-hygiene, following five steps of washing hands. As they start to perform these tasks daily, they will begin to accept them as part of their daily life.
These simple methods of ensuring effective sanitation go a long way in nurturing healthy kids with hygienic habits which can, in turn, reduce the burden of preventable diseases. It will also enable children to understand that they are responsible for their health. Children empowered with knowledge about sanitation and health can be instrumental in building communities of change.
The author is Content Expert at Sesame Workshop India. She has 14 years of experience in early childhood education space teaching and developing curriculum. Sesame India conducts campaigns focusing on health and hygiene habits among children to arouse their interest in hygiene and inculcate healthy habits at an early age.