Encouraging little ones to wash their hands sounds like an easy task. But as any parent or caretaker knows, kids can have notoriously short attention spans…and washing hands is not high on their list of things they love to do. Here are some ideas, courtesy of the Soap and Detergent Association, to add a little spark to hand-washing time:

  •  Wash to a favorite tune, Twenty seconds — about the time it takes to sing two verses of the “Happy Birthday” song — is the time it takes to do a really good job of hand-washing. Sing the song “as is” or use the tune and construct verses that are special for your child. Or pick another children’s song like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
  •  In the cold and flu season, disposable paper towels make more sense than terry-cloth towels for hand drying. Look for lighthearted prints that will make your child smile.

Make the soap part of the fun:

  •  There are soaps designed especially for kids that have “built-in” 20-second timers. One version has a pump that stains the child’s hands with vegetable dye — it takes about 20 seconds of washing to remove it. Another version has a light that flashes when the pump is activated and continues flashing for 20 seconds.
  •  Foaming soaps come in kid-friendly colors and scents, and dispense a single dose.
  •  Have a collection of small decorative soaps that you never use? Bring them out. The size is perfect for little ones’ hands and they’ll love the interesting shapes.
  •  Purchase a refillable soap dispenser in a design or color that your child will love. You might even let him help you pick it out.

By encouraging hand-washing, you should be helping your children and family stay healthy this winter.

Marsha O. Parker is the Christian County extension agent for family and consumer sciences. She can be reached at 270-886-6328.

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