health

Teaching Your Kids About Germs

Germs are yucky...parents know that. But do your kids understand the importance of protecting themselves from germs? Part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle for yourself and your children includes making sure they are staying safe...at home, at school, and everywhere in between.

What do your kids need to know about germs?

Germs exist everywhere, including some of the places we think are safe. School-aged children are constantly surrounded by germs. Sometimes no amount of hand washing can prevent those pesky, cold-causing critters from making their way into your child’s immune system. Helping your kid understand this important concept is the first step.

Regular hand washing can help reduce the effects of negative microorganisms. If you haven’t revisited the process in a while, work with your child to re-establish good practices. The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) recommend washing your hands before eating, after using the restroom, after touching a pet, and more. Practice washing hands with your child for 20 seconds at a time, or roughly the duration of “Happy Birthday.”  

Everything you touch is "contaminated" with microorganisms. As gross as this is, it’s absolutely true. You can illustrate this concept using non-toxic, washable finger paint. Go outside and cover an area with newspaper to keep things clean. Bring a few ordinary objects such as a crayon, a ball, a gluestick, etc. You might want to change into clothes you don’t mind covering in paint. Have your child place their hands in one color of paint while you place yours in the other color. Now take turns picking up the objects you brought outside. Explain to your child how germs are passed, and when you touch something, others’ invisible germs are transferred onto you. You can finish this exercise with some good, thorough hand washing.

Spreading germs can be reduced with a few best practices. Teaching your family how to properly cover their nose and mouth during a sneeze or cough can reduce the amount of microorganisms released into the air. After school or activities with other children, change out of clothes immediately and put on fresh ones. School and activity clothing should go right into the hamper to prevent spreading germs from the day. During cold and flu season, increase your child’s intake of fluids and begin a cold medicine regimen at the first signs of sickness.

Related Articles