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Lifeskills: Washing hands

Teach your child to scrub up well this three step plan

Posted: 4 April 2012
by Fiona McKim

Washing is your family's first line of defence against many illnesses. it's not just colds or the flu that can be picked up on fingers. Other bugs include those which cause meningitis hepatitis A and diarrhoea.

Gently stress the importance of handwashing by explaining that bugs can be picked up from surfaces like door knobs, or by touching animals. You could try reading a book such as Tony Ross's I Don't Want To Wash My Hands which playfully explores the importance of good hygiene in a child-friendly manner.

It is also a good idea to get your child into the habit of washing his hands before he eats, after he goes to the toilet, before cooking, after playing with pets and upon returning indoors after playing outside. Let your child see that you also practise good hygiene, and wash your hands together until she's old enough to wash on her own.

Step 1
Use warm water, which kills germs better than cold. Lather soap for 10 to 15 seconds – perhaps suggest your child counts or sings a short rhyme to ensure they are scrubbing for a decent amount of time. There's no need to use an antibacterial soap.

Step 2
Encourage your child top wash in-between fingers and and under finger nails (keeping nails short will help minimise accumulation of grime too).

Step 3
Rinse well, and dry with a clean towel. In public toilets, hot-air dryers or paper towels tend to be more hygienic than towels.

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