“They are sick again?” “What’s going on with them now?” If you have multiple young children, you may hear this often.
Or, alternatively, you may not…
My kids get sick a lot. A lot. Is it their genetics? Is it ME? The answer is that it is probably a combination.
I am lucky enough to have a pediatrician that is amazing. I literally am so blessed and grateful for her and her nurses and office staff at BayCare. But, the truth is that I am sure they see my kiddies more often than they would like and/or expect to.
It very well could be that my kids were born with slightly weakened immune systems, but the more likely truth is that I have not taught them the best germ prevention and removal methods.
My older two kids are in school. Outside of school, we are involved in so many activities. Schools, parks, kids’ gyms etc. are hot spots for germs. In all honestly, the proper sanitary measures are not always taken–with three constant motion kids and a mom whose brain is always focused on what is next on the schedule. Because of this, my kids are susceptible to quickly becoming sick and possibly passing any illness on to others.
I need to take germs more seriously so that my kids do too. Understanding germs and taking precautionary measures against them is not difficult. I have just been lazy about it and it is time for me to step up my germ game and teach them (as well as implement myself) the personal care tools to lead a healthier life.
Here are the best ways to teach your toddler and pre-school-aged kids about germs:
- Find kid tv shows that discuss germs. “Sid the Science Kid” has a great episode on germs. “Caliou” has an episode on germs as well, but we also know how most parents feel about that whiny little fella…
- Create a germ model at home using play doh and q-tips. Make a play doh ball and poke q-tips through it. This is what a germ looks like and it teaches kids how easily the play doh and the extending q-tips attach to other things.
- Show children mold on old bread or old fruit.
- Compare germs to “monsters”. Recall the Mucinex commercial which uses a monster as a visual aid for the cold and flu cause. Most kids don’t like the idea of monsters and will be happy to rid themselves and their belongings of these scary creatures.
- Have your pediatrician explain germs to your children. Your pediatrician will comfortably and happily help broach this topic with your child.
Here are the best ways to prevent germs:
- Teach proper hand washing. Inform them of the right amount of soap and water. Guide them on how long to wash, how hard to scrub, and how high up their arm to wash. Have them say a rhyme, sing a song, count to a number, etc. to make hand washing more fun.
- Teach proper sneeze control.
- Teach proper nose wiping and blowing. Remind them that there hand/arm is not a tissue! Neither is mommy’s shirt or skirt!
- Show them the proper way to use sanitizer. Teach them when to use sanitizer vs. wash their hands with soap and water.
- Remind them not to share utensils or food.
For more less obvious ways to prevent germs and more unique ways to educate yourself and your kids about germs, do a little online research. With a simple search, I was able to find out about:
The Glitter Hands Challenge: Mix hand sanitizer with glitter. Pretend to sneeze in you hand and get some of the glitter mixed sanitizer. Then play a game that requires touching or hand holding. Those playing will realize that they were “infected”. Throughout the game, they will continue to see how the “germs” spread. They will also see how hard it is to get the glitter off at the end, reinforcing good hand washing to wash away germs.
Tech-Infused Learning via the Scrub Club: An online series of webisodes, games and printables based on a fearless crew of six who battle “Big E” (E-coli).
Books: A Germs Journey; Germs are Not for Sharing; Germs Make Me Sick; Sherm the Germ; Inside Your Germs; Germ Boy
Of course my kids will continue with school. Additionally, they will also be continuing with all of their activities. I am not going to change how we live and enjoy life and neither should you. You don’t want to go overboard or overkill here. Most doctors would agree that you should have a relaxed, but encouraging attitude towards cleanliness. You don’t want to instill fear in your child; instead, model normal germ control yourself.
Here’s hoping your summer is a healthy one! I sure hope mine will be!