Keeping Winter Germs Away, Even with Toddlers!

Keeping Winter Germs Away, Even with Toddlers!

By Michelle Mady

There’s something magical about the winter season. The new white snow, the holiday season, time for family and fun. But along with the winter season comes that other season - the season that causes fear and panic in parents everywhere; the one that brings phone calls from school nurses and decisions about sending kids to school.

Yes, we’re talking about cold and flu season. 

And while it’s impossible to keep your kids completely germ-free, there are a few things you can do to get your children to help your efforts in keeping everyone healthy. Like:

Catch that Cough

One of the easiest ways we can help children keep their germs to themselves is teaching them to catch their coughs. Show them how to cough (or sneeze) in their elbows instead of in their hand, or worse, out in the open air. Reminders to “Catch your cough” will not only help your child remember to keep their germs to themselves, but it will also be a catchphrase that spreads quicker than the flu!  Your child will help lead the trend and have all of their friends keeping their germs to themselves.

Teach Proper Hand-Washing Techniques

I am a toddler and young preschool teacher. Almost all two year olds I encounter can get soap and put their hands under the water faucet. However, very few actually know how to wash their hands. So we teach them the difference between rinsing their hands and washing them. Rinsing is putting soap on your hands and then putting those hands under running water. Washing is different.

We help them to wash, reminding them to scrub the palms, backs, fingers and everywhere in between BEFORE rinsing them off. You can use colored soap to show which parts of their hands get soap on them. You can also use a little glitter to show how much scrubbing needs to happen to get that glitter off. Teaching them to wash their hands properly will help minimize the germs that enter their bodies.

Watch Your Touch

There’s so much “ick” on surfaces all around, it can be easy to forget when asking your child to hold the railing going down the stairs at the bus stop. Of course there are times that touching a surface in public is necessary, and not every public surface is germ infested, but it IS likely that it has been touched by hundreds of other people in the past 24 hours.  

Teach young children to hold your hand rather than a railing when possible. Sometimes railings and walls are not necessary to touch, so ask them to keep their hands down. Sometimes, when at a park, I will remind children that birds sit (and sometimes poop) on the plastic fence. That’s enough to keep their hands off for a few minutes. If you have a child who loves to reach out and touch something, consider fun mittens or gloves and keep hand sanitizer handy!

Keeping everyone healthy during this season can be difficult, and sickness can create some added stress. So in addition to following health guidelines, upping your Vitamin C and keeping sick family members home, rallying help from everyone (including the children) will help get you through to spring.


About the author: Michelle is a mom of 5 children ranging in age from 5 to 15.  As a toddler and preschool teacher, she shares experiences, activities and guidance to other parents, as both a parent and as a professional early childhood educator, at any stage of their parenting journey.


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