If it were up to kids, they would use the potty, immediately leap off the throne and go back to playing. That’s why, after the all-important flush, it’s time for us grown-ups to help guide children with their hand washing. Read on for some important tips for clean potty training and how to teach a toddler to wash their hands properly.
Understand How to Wash Hands Properly
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold). Then turn off the tap and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between each of your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or use an air dryer to blow them dry.
Prepare the Sink for Your Toddler
Explain Why Handwashing is Important
Tell your toddler about other times it’s important to wash their hands too, including after they blow their nose, cough or sneeze. It’s important to wash your hands before eating too!
Count to 20
And there are fun ways to make the 20 seconds pass! While you could use a timer on each bathroom trip, many families find songs work well. “Happy Birthday,” “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” usually take about that long to sing.
Look for Fun Ways to Teach Kids Handwashing
- Download a handwashing poster. This poster provides a helpful reminder of the five steps your toddler should take to keep germs away.
- Ask your toddler to mimic you. The “Can You Do What I Do?” game is a fun way to guide your child through all the steps of the bathroom routine including hand washing.
- Build-a-Bathroom Puzzle. This puzzle gets kids to learn and label all the tools they’ll use in the bathroom including the flush handle, soap, and towels. It’s a great game to play before you’ve started potty training, but you can do it together at any other time too.
- Pulls-Ups® Scavenger Hunt. This hide-and-seek game can help get your child motivated to use the potty and wash up properly afterward. You’ll hide handwashing items such as soap and hand towels around the house.
Customize Your Teaching Style
- Cautious personalities will enjoy having “rules” on their poster hanging near the sink — and may also enjoy using a small timer to ensure they’ve scrubbed long enough.
- Shy kids will focus on the steps of the task. “Scrub, scrub … then comes the water.” Silliness can help a shy toddler become more flexible.
- Eager-to-please kids will love playing with the foaming soap and singing songs. Be sure to give them plenty of time to enjoy the process.
- Free-spirited personalities will want to make playtime out of it. They’ll likely enjoy using a foam-filled sponge in the sink to “wash” a play dish or use an old toothbrush to scrub their favorite dinosaur.
- High-energy personalities might blow a bubble with the soap or compare amounts of soap on each hand before rinsing the germs away.
Celebrate Handwashing Successes
While some kids will take to hand washing quickly, others will need more time. So, it’s important to assist with hand washing until you’re sure your child has gotten the hang of it — especially since it takes kids a while to learn how to wipe themselves without touching their bottoms. And as with anything, kids learn by watching. So, make sure you’re modeling good handwashing behavior too!
DOWNLOAD PRINTABLE HANDWASHING POSTER