HKQ Kids

Avoiding Germs and Getting Sick

The seasons and weather are changing; while this means the holidays are right around the corner, so is the flu season, unfortunately. We all get sick from time to time, whether it’s the common cold or otherwise, but children can be especially at risk. When they spend most of their day in an environment filled with other kids who may not all practice the same level of hygiene and germ mindfulness, it’s no wonder they seem to come home with a cough or a runny nose so often. Teaching your children about germs and how to avoid them can not only help them evade illness, but will instill good habits that will last into adulthood as well.

Here’s a few tips on how to do just that:

  • Teach your children about what germs actually are; tell them that they can’t be seen, but that they’re everywhere. They shouldn’t be afraid though; some germs are good and some are bad, and they can keep the bad ones away by following the advice below.
  • Hand-washing is a key factor in getting rid of and preventing those bad germs. Try to make hand-washing a regular part of your child’s routine both at home and in school: before touching food or eating, after playing outside or at recess, after using the bathroom, and whenever their hands are visibly dirty. Teach your kids to wash their hands with soap, and to do so for about as long as it would take them to sing “Happy Birthday."
  • Running to a sink after every interaction isn’t always possible or practical, so hand sanitizer can be very useful for in between. You can give your child some hand sanitizer to keep in their backpacks, and some classrooms might be equipped with dispensers as well. Teach your kids to use it responsibly and reasonably.
  • A great habit to teach now is coughing and/or sneezing into your elbow, not your hands. Our hands touch an incredible amount of surfaces and objects each day. Directing germs from a cough or a sneeze toward your elbow instead of your hands can go a long way in preventing the spread of germs, since you’re not opening doors or using computers with the inside of your elbows.
  • Speaking of, hands-on devices like phones, tablets, and computers can especially be hotbeds for germs. Keep screens and keyboards wiped down on a regular basis to cut down on germ activity. This goes for all types of frequent-use objects and surfaces, too: the dinner table, car seats, door handles and remote controls, for example.
  • Keep from sharing any eating utensils, straws, and food. It might’ve taken you a year or two to teach “sharing is caring,” but this is an important criteria. Keep the sharing to toys and games.
  • Tissues are probably not used as much as they should be by children, mostly because for kids, anything can work as a tissue. Keep tissues around the house, in the car, and send kids to school with a pack of them in their backpacks and lunchboxes.

Of course, we can only do our best to avoid germs and falling sick, but it still happens. In the event that your child is visibly sick or is complaining of discomfort, keep them home. It gives your child the time they need to recuperate, it can keep you from worrying, and it keeps other kids and parents from being exposed to another sick classmate. Keep in touch with your child’s teacher to stay on top of anything they might be missing, and of course, consult your pediatrician if your child’s illness is serious.

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