Submitted by Jessica Piscos
Any parent knows how difficult it can be getting your kid to do anything. Whether they’re bawling their eyes out in a shop because you won’t buy them sweets or throwing a mini-tantrum at bedtime, standing your ground as an authority figure can be like David standing up to a tiny toddler Goliath.
Yet stand your ground you must – especially where hand hygiene is concerned.
But any parent worth their salt knows that the key to discipline isn’t being some authoritative grouch – it’s in making the everyday seem like fun.
With that in mind, here are a few ways to put the joy into effective hygiene.
Make movement the key
The mind is always alerted by visual stimulation, even more so in its younger, more malleable years.
If you want to instil the value of keeping those digits clean, then try finding a good hand washing guide online, much like this video from Initial, to effectively communicate how best to clean your mitts.
Whistle a jaunty tune
Standard hygiene advice says that scrubbing your hands for the same length of time as two verses of Happy Birthday is enough to keep clean. But to avoid your kids thinking they deserve a birthday cake after every rinse, change that tune regularly.
There’s a ton of handy songs (geddit?) designed to make a boring chore fun. So have a look and watch your child’s face light up as they sing.
Make it treat-worthy
Let’s have a quick discussion of Pavlov’s dogs, shall we?
Ivan Pavlov, a 19th-century scientist, found that if he rang a bell every time he went to feed his dogs, they would eventually associate any bell-ring with food, salivating with every chime.
Humans act in much the same way, in a process known as cognitive conditioning. If we know that some action will have a positive outcome, we’ll go back to it again and again.
So, drum into your kid’s head that they’ll get some sort of treat, whether it’s a story or a sweet, whenever they wash their hands for them to happily complete their task.
Play the hand washing game
Gamification is a business strategy referring to the idea of turning day-to-day activities into games. From loyalty cards to recycling points, we adults are being tricked into playing mini-games all the time.
And you could take a leaf out of the business book by turning hand hygiene into an ace game for your kids. Give them gold stars if they wash-up properly and red marks if they don’t, and give them a larger, one-off treat if they are consistently clean.