How to encourage children to wash their hands

Mar 26, 2020 | Tips & Advice

Hand washing is one of the easiest ways to stop the spread of germs and viruses, but it can be a challenge getting your children to do it, do it right, and do it regularly.

To help our families out there, we’ve put together this simple guide on how you can encourage your children to wash their hands properly.

1. Explain the importance of washing hands

Children are more likely to wash their hands if they
understand why they need to do it. Explain to your child that there are many
germs in the world that can make them sick, washing hands properly will help
wash away all those germs.

2. Teach them how to wash their hands properly

Here are 4 easy steps to clean hands…

  1. Get wet and soapy – wet your hands with warm water, and put some soap on your hands
  2. Rub the soap all over – Rub all over, back and front, and in between (Do this for 20 seconds)
  3. Rinse your hands under the water until they look clean
  4. Dry your hands with a paper towel

3. Make it easy

Your little ones might find it hard to reach the taps or sink easily. So in lieu of basin at child-height, we recommend you invest in a child-safe stool or step they can use. Also, ensure the handsoap is within reach.

4. Make it fun

There’s plenty of ways you can make washing hands fun. Using character soap bottles or coloured soap is a good way, but we find songs are the best. Here’s a list of our favourite songs to sing whilst rubbing soap all over our hands…

  • Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
  • Happy Birthday (sing it twice)
  • The Alphabet Song
  • Wash, Wash, Wash Your Hands (Row, Row, Row Your
  • This Is The Way We Wash Our Hands (Mulberry Bush)

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

Twinkle, twinkle little star
Look how clean my two hands are
With soap and water, wash and scrub
Got those germs off, rub-a-dub-dub
Twinkle, twinkle little star
Look how clean my two hands are

Wash, Wash, Wash Your Hands

Wash, Wash, Wash your hands
Wash them nice and clean.
Scrub them here (with hand motion scrubbing together)
Scrub them there (with hand motion scrubbing tops of hands)
And scrub them in between (with hand motion scrubbing between fingers).

Wash, wash, wash, your hands
Play our handy game
Rub and scrub, scrub and rub
Germs go down the drain HEY!

This is the way we wash our hands

This is the way we wash our hands
Wash our hands
Wash our hands
This is the way we wash our hands
Before we eat our food.
(Continue with these variations: After we play outside. After we play with pets. After we sneeze or cough.

You could also watch the Wiggles handwashing song > click here

Or, learn to wash your hands with Bluey > click here

5. Reward their behaviour

Rewarding good behaviour doesn’t always have to result in
prizes or treats. A simple star chart where your child earns a sticker each
time they wash their hands could work.

Just congratulating your child may be all the reward they need… just ensure you acknowledge they wash their hands in a positive way.

6. Show them how it’s done

Children learn by modelling behaviour from people around them. Ensure they see you (and other, especially older, kids) washing your hands properly and regularly too.

7. Make it a routine, but not a chore

Children respond positively to routines, so it’s important
they know when they should be washing their hands…

  • Before & after eating,
  • After going to the toilet,
  • After playing outside,
  • After touching pets or animals,
  • After going to the shops,
  • After sneezing or coughing,
  • Going to and from Kindy.

Also, make sure washing hands becomes a part of all of your child’s regular daily routines, from getting up in the morning, to brushing their teeth before bed at night, washing hands should now become apart of it all.

Children can learn best through repetition and it might take a couple of friendly reminders to ensure they remember to regularly wash their hands… But remember to try and keep it fun!

8. Talk to your Sunkids Educators

At Sunkids, our educators use a range of different methods to encourage our children to regularly wash their hands throughout the day. Some sing a special handwashing song, some make it a fun game. We encourage you to ask your Sunkids Educators on what they do to make handwashing fun for your child.

Bonus tip: Glitter Germs Experiment

Teach your child the importance of washing hands through the
Glitter Germs Experiment activity…

  • Place a small amount of glitter on the child’s hands. Ask them to rub them together.
  • Explain the glitter is germs that can cause them to be sick.
  • Ask your child to touch different parts of their body and things around the room.
  • Explain how the glitter sticks to everything they touch, and that germs are the same.
  • Now ask your child to remove the germs by washing their hands… but only with water.
  • Your child will see that only a little bit of the glitter goes away. Explain how water alone isn’t enough to get germs off their hands and that we need to use soap.
  • Help your child wash all the glitter away using soap and the proper handwashing technique.
  • Talk about how soap helps wash the germs away, and that’s why it’s important to use soap every time you wash your hands.

Remember, we’re here to help.

As we all learn to cope with the current Coronavirus pandemic, Sunkids would like to remind all within our greater community that we’re here to help you. We’ll continue to do all we can to assist our families, children and staff throughout this difficult and uncertain time, and continue to share helpful advice along the way. 

Further information regarding Coronavirus.

For additional information regarding Novel Coronavirus (COID-19), we encourage you to only visit trusted sources.

Queensland Department of Health

Australian Government Department of Health

You can also call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.
It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.

If you have concerns about your or your child’s health, speak to your doctor.
If you are displaying symptoms of Coronavirus, call ahead first.

If you are having a medical emergency, please call 000