As many parents know, it can seem like every time you turn around, your child is sick again with another common illness. While immunizations and a good dose of vitamins can help boost your child’s immune system against disease, there’s a good chance they will still get sick at some point during the school year. Teaching your kids the following healthy habits can help!
Avoiding Touching Their Face
One of the single most effective things you can do in order to teach disease prevention in young children is to emphasize the importance of not touching their faces because bacteria and viruses enter the body at points such as the nose and mouth. Kids are constantly touching dirty surfaces all day long, and no matter how often you wash their hands, if they’re touching their face, they are risking those germs getting into their bodies. Redirect younger kids whenever you catch them sucking on their fingers or picking their noses, and remind older kids to avoid leaning on their hands or otherwise touching their faces.
Wearing a Mask
By now, we’re all very familiar with mask-wearing for the prevention of COVID-19, but did you know that in many countries, masks are worn for the prevention of other common illnesses such as the flu? Surgical face masks and N95 masks work best, but even a cloth mask can help prevent the spread of disease, especially if it is worn by an individual who is ill. Consider when the use of a mask is appropriate for your family, such as at school or in large social gatherings.
Washing Their Hands Often
Teach your kids the proper way to wash their hands, including scrubbing under their nails and washing between their fingers. Younger kids may get a kick out of singing a song like “Happy Birthday to You” in order to get a feel for the proper amount of time to spend washing their hands. Make sure older kids know the importance of keeping their hands clean after washing and avoiding touching dirty surfaces in the bathroom on their way out the door. (For example, using a paper towel to open the door and exit.) In-between hand washes, the use of hand sanitizer is proven to be extremely effective at killing up to 99% of germs and bacteria.
Covering Their Mouth
All kids should be taught from an early age to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze. If a tissue is not available, kids should cough into their elbow or hands. In addition, they should be taught to avoid touching surfaces and other kids after blowing their noses or coughing into their hands. Not only do these tips help the rest of your community, but these healthy practices will help to prevent the disease from spreading within your home when one kid is sick and you’re trying to avoid the rest of the family becoming ill also.
Stay Home When Sick
Last but not least, we can never stress enough the importance of staying home and keeping your kids home when someone is exhibiting symptoms. Although it is tempting to send your kids to school with a sniffle when you know you need to get to work, you don’t want to be the person to spread RSV or the flu to the rest of your child’s grade. Unless you are certain that your child’s symptoms are caused by allergies, do others a favor and stay home when sick.