4 Ways To Stop Spreading Germs

Family eating lunch.
Roy Mehta/Taxi/Getty Images

Children are prone to picking up germs in daycare and schools settings. However, there are ways to avoid catching these common childhood illnesses. Whether it's washing hands while singing happy birthday two times, learning to cough into the crook of an arm when no tissue is nearby, or keeping a healthy distance from others when sick, there are good habits that can help keep the cooties away and result in healthier and happy kids.

Here are 4 quick health tips to teach kids to help stop the spread of germs:

Wash hands often.

Most adults understand that the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands, but kids need to be taught this message and then have it frequently reinforced. People pick up germs from other sources and then become infected when they touch their eyes, nose or mouth (or put infected toys and other items in their mouths as commonly occurs with youngsters). Germs are easily spread directly to others or onto surfaces that people touch, and then everyone gets sick! The National Center for Infectious Diseases reminds everyone that more than a common cold can be caught through the spread of germs--some serious diseases such as hepatitis A, meningitis, and infectious diarrhea are easily spread.

When should kids wash their hands?

Children should be reminded to wash their hands before, during and after food is prepared; before and after you eat; after using the bathroom; after handling animals or animal waste such as changing a cage or cat litter box; whenever hands are dirty or kids have been outside playing; and more frequently when anyone in the classroom, care setting or home is sick.

Cover a cough.

Show your kids how to do this to help prevent spread of germs. Inevitably, kids aren't near a tissue when the urge to cough or sneeze occurs, and spread (or literally spray) germs by unwittingly infecting others. Kids need to be taught to cough into the crook of their arm, into their sleeve, or even in their hand, and then to immediately wash their hands.

Some providers/teachers have turned "cover your cough" into a game or type of positive reinforcement when kids are caught covering their cough correctly. Older kids may even create health posters and other lessons that can be posted in the classroom and even at home.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

And, if you or your child is the one who is sick, encourage others to keep their distance to minimize the spread of the illness. If possible, stay home from school, work, child care, and public places so others won't be exposed. Know when your child is too sick to attend child care or school for the health and well-being of everyone else. After all, you hope that others will extend the same courtesy to your family!

Updated by Jill Ceder

Continue Reading