Ask any nurse, doctor, or anyone in the healthcare profession what you can do to prevent a cold, and all of them will say, "Keep your hands clean."
Children are as uncomfortable as are adults when they get colds. They're tired and crabby and just plain miserable. Colds wear everybody down. It tires us just to grab a box of tissues and walk those used tissues to the trash. Nobody likes feeling chronically tired.
But teaching children that they can be the bosses of their own bodies empowers them to take control over their own health.
Teach children that hands, mouths, and noses harbor germs. The moment a hand wipes a nose without the use of a tissue, that hand carries germs to whatever it touches. Kids playing with other kids multiplies the possibility of transferring germs.
So teaching children to cough into their elbows prevents the germs from transferring to their hands. Teaching them to wash their hands after they blow their noses further prevents colds from transferring to playmates and siblings.
Though doctors recommend NOT using hand sanitizers ALL the time, using them during a cold or flu outbreak helps to prevent colds from spreading. Day care providers and parents should teach kids how important it is to keep their hands clean.
A child with a cold who doesn't wash his or her hands can transfer those germs to all of the toys in the daycare or home and cause every child in that home or daycare to get a cold. At the first sign of a sniffle, teach the child how to properly use a tissue, how to keep hands clean, and how to cough or sneeze into the elbow.
Instilling an element of compassion helps too. When kids realize that their behavior affects those around them, they'll want to contribute to everyone's good health.
Tell children that by coughing into their elbow, others won't get their germs. By keeping their hands clean, they are helping themselves and others to become healthier.
Kids want to be responsible and teaching them how to keep their hands clean and to be aware of germs (without programming them for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is one of the most important steps in helping them to help themselves.
So to break it down into easily digested kid form, teach these three things to your children:
• Wipe your nose without getting mucous on your hands.
• Cough or sneeze into your elbow (good rule for adults too).
• Wash your hands frequently during a cold or flu outbreak, especially after wiping your nose (another good one for adults).
Adults might also want to sanitize toys during cold and flu outbreaks too, to prevent the spread of colds and flu.
Wishing you a HEALTHY and happy New Year!
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