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Tips for Teaching Hand-Washing: Especially Important During COVID-19

How many times this week did you remind your kids to hand-wash their hands.  Not just wash their hands but do it properly (rather than just wetting their hands and rushing out of the bathroom). I personally lost count, even with my teenage daughter. 

My first topic this week falls into the “self care skills” category and is extremely pertinent to our current situation of the virus in our midst.  

There are many skills needed in order to complete hand-washing.  First, the ability to recognize that the hands are dirty and understand the idea of germs.  Second, walk to the sink and turn on the water.  Get hands wet and pump soap. Scrub and rinse.  Finally, turn off the water and dry your hands.   All these steps, require understanding multi step directions, bilateral coordination, shoulder and hand strength, motor planning and sensory processing. Kids who have difficulties in these areas or have special needs may experience difficulty in executing this skill, especially in different environments where sinks, soap dispensers, drying equipment  can be different sizes which all require different motor planning. 

Ways to facilitate teaching this skill are:

  1. Social Stories: Make up a story and ask your child when he/she would need to wash his/her hands in the story. 
        •         Before eating
        •         After using the restroom
        •         After sneezing
        •         Before preparing food or handling food
        •         After coming in from outside
        •         Whenever their hands are dirty from an activity
  1. Use a video or hand-washing songs

  1. Use visual cue cards (see image below)

   4. Have a serious conversation with your teen on how good hand washing is our first line of defense against illness.

Hope this is helpful. Everyone be safe!!!

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