Teaching Kids How to Wash Their Hands

As coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spreads throughout the United States, it’s important to refresh one’s memory on basic disease prevention techniques. Parents should be passing these techniques on to their children.

The No. 1 way to prevent COVID-19 – along with other diseases like the flu – is handwashing. Frequently washing your hands using the correct technique is the best way to kill germs and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Latania Logan, MD, MS, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Rush University Medical Center, stopped by the Laurance Armour Day School (LADS) to teach preschoolers how to wash their hands correctly and to explain the importance of teaching kids about hand-washing. LADS is a child care facility for young children of Rush employees and also provides after-school care for children at surrounding schools.

“It’s very important for us to make sure we are teaching children how to properly wash their hands. This is the time of the year where there are many viruses going around, including the flu and many cold viruses, and as everybody has heard, this novel coronavirus,” Logan said.

“With children, a lot of them if they do have or do get it are probably very mild in their symptoms. They may have a cold or just a mild cough and won’t get very ill. But that doesn’t mean they can’t spread germs.”

The Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) recommends washing your hands for 20 seconds, humming “Happy Birthday” from beginning to end twice as a timer. While the happy birthday song an easy song to remember, Logan created a song specifically for the children by setting lyrics about hand washing to the tune of “Are you Sleeping (Brother John).”

These lyrics taught the kids the proper technique of hand-washing. This method included scrubbing both the top and bottoms of your hands as well as in between your finger.

The song should be sung twice, once while scrubbing your hands and a second time while rinsing your hands off. Logan also showed students how properly dry your hands – making sure you dry them off completely – and remembering to turn your faucet off with a paper towel.

Logan emphasized the importance of keeping kids well informed. It’s especially important during these times, where social media and misinformation can create panic.

“You want to make sure your children are informed. So the first thing to do is listen to them so you can understand their concerns and give them the appropriate information,” Logan explained.

Logan recommended using calming techniques for children if they are experiencing any anxiety about getting sick. She said she likes to use breathing techniques to calm a child who is experiencing anxiety.

“You don’t need to have all the answers. It is OK to say ‘I don’t know,’ but you do want to give your kids information, and you do want to give it in a very calm way.”

Source: Rush University Medical Center

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