You do all you can think of to prevent your children from coming down with a cold or an upset tummy — from feeding balanced meals to scrubbing the floors they plays on. But that’s only half the battle: they have to learn how to keep themselveshealthy. And there are plenty of lessons to teach them: Start by explaining that germs are responsible for the yucky feeling they gets when they sick. Then instruct them on healthy habits. You’ll have to demonstrate these hygiene lessons over and over, but pretty soon they’ll be able to grasp them — and follow through them. So what are the most important lessons to start with? The top-three healthy habits for children are:
HEALTHY HABIT #1: Give Hands a Good Scrub
Hand washing tops the list of healthy habits children should learn for one simple reason: Doing it often — and doing it right — can reduce the number of colds, flu, and other infections children get by 50 percent! A lot of sore throats and runny noses can be avoided simply by stepping up to the sink, especially at key times: before eating or heading to the playroom with a friend (this will keep germs on shared toys to a minimum), after coming in from playing outside, and after sneezing, coughing, petting an animal, or using the washroom.
HEALTHY HABIT #2: Do the “Sleeve Sneeze”
What’s next on the list of healthy habits for children? When your kid feels an “aa-choo” coming on and there’s no tissue in sight, show him how to let loose into the inside of his elbow, rather than into his hand or the air. This way, germs won’t wind up on his fingers — 80 percent of germs are transferred through touch — or spewed out into the air. This healthy habit applies to coughs as well — and to you too, so be a good role model whenever you sneeze sans tissues.
HEALTHY HABIT #3: Toss That Tissue!
Once your child has mastered the fine art of nose-blowing, get her into the habit of disposing of dirty tissues right away, rather than leaving them lying around on a table or the floor: Some bacteria and viruses can live for two hours or more outside the body, so getting rid of tissues is another healthy habit for children to learn. Make sure there’s a trash can in every room your child spends time in.