While children have always been taught the importance of washing their hands, the current health crisis facing the world has brought to the forefront the huge role hand washing plays in protecting them from any kind of illness.
The World Health Organisation and Doctors from all over the world keep stressing the importance of regular hand washing for everyone especially children. Now the question arises as to why hand washing has been given so much importance. The reason for this is that hands are the medium through which any type of infection spreads to other parts of the body or from an infected person to another person. Children are more susceptible to catching an infection as their immune systems are not as strong as those of adults, so it is especially important that they keep their hands clean. Let us take a closer look at the importance, proper technique and benefits of hand washing for children.
Importance of Hand Washing for Children
Children of all age groups are involved in numerous activities all through the day and during the course of these activities they come into contact with animals, sand, water, toys, sports equipment and numerous other objects. The germs from these numerous sources are transferred onto their hands and when children unknowingly touch their face with these hands the germs are transferred via their eyes, nose and mouth to other parts of their body. Therefore it is imperative to stop the infection right at the very source i.e. the hands.
Hand Washing: When and How
Children should be made to wash their hands at regular intervals all through the day. Besides the times when their hands are visibly dirty, these are the instances when they should definitely wash their hands:
Before: Having their meals, going to bed, helping you in the kitchen
After: Handling water, sand, toys, sports equipment or books; petting the dog, cat or other pets; stepping into the house after school or visiting the playground, a friend’s house, the mall or any other public space; using the restroom, sneezing or coughing into their hand, putting any trash in the dustbin etc
Studies show that to get rid of germs effectively hand washing must be done for a period of 20-30 seconds, basically the time taken to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ or ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ twice! Get children to sing either of these songs in their head and wash their hands in the following manner while doing so:
- First wet their hands and then apply soap on them.
- Properly scrub both the front and back of their hands, between their fingers and also under their fingernails.
- Wash hands thoroughly and then dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
Benefits of Hand Washing
Getting rid of Harmful Bacteria and Germs – As we have seen, hands are the first line of defense against harmful bacteria and germs entering children’s bodies. So regular hand washing is effective in protecting them not only from the common cold but also more serious infections like the flu, bronchitis, diarrhea etc.
Allergies and Eye Infections – Children have a natural tendency to touch their faces very often, so by ensuring their hands are always clean regular skin allergies and eye infections can also be kept at bay.
On a final note, instilling the habit of regular and correct hand washing in children will ensure that it becomes second nature to them. This habit will go a long way in keeping them infection free and healthy all through their lives.