Are you the type of mom who wishes we lived in a germ free world, and you follow your children around with hand sanitizer 24/7?
Or, are you the mom who thinks germs are everywhere and if your child gets sick it’s a part of life?
As soon as my girls get home from school, I make them wash their hands. When we leave a park or the store I clean their hands with sanitizer. But I also understand germs are everywhere, and research reveals that the hidden germs in our homes can be the worst. They are on the refrigerator doors, remote controls, telephones, computer key boards, and light switches. I am not OCD, but I do love to keep a clean home. However, I also need to remember not to obsess about cleaning everyday because killing all germs prevents our bodies from building up resistance.
Time for some dirty talk…
Playing under restaurant tables
The other day I went out to lunch with my daughter and a friend, before we knew it both girls were happily playing under the restaurant table. Now my oldest is 8 years old so I have seen all my girls do this at some point and, every time it happens, I still think it is gross and I don’t understand the appeal. My friend, a former restaurant manager, said if one knew all the gross things that make their way under restaurant tables, no one would ever let their kids go under them. Some things found under tables include: gum, old food, dirty napkins, used utensils, and even a diaper. As I have talked to other moms, they think it is best to teach your children good manners and sit at the table and not under the table.
Try some of these tips to get your kids at the table instead of under the table:
-Before we go to a restaurant I tell my girls if they have good manners and sit at the table (rather than under it), I will buy them a yummy dessert or when we get home from dinner we can have a movie night with some popcorn.
-Practice good manners at home before you take your kids to a restaurant.
-Explain to your children that under the table there is a lot of germs and you don’t want them to get sick.
She couldn’t believe I was letting her pick her nose.
What child or adult doesn’t pick or itch their nose? A study in 1995 found that 91% of adults pick their noses. Kids are not aware that picking their noses spreads germs. The best thing to do is:
-Always correct them if they do it and be consistent.
-Give them some tissues to put in their pockets.
-Wash their hands after they pick so they don’t spread germs.
-Have them checked for allergies.
My daughter always had her finger in her nose. I have to admit it was funny but also a little embarrassing. I asked my pediatrician what I could do and he said she was probably allergic to pollen and her nose was itching and bugging her. So as soon as we put her on children allergy medicine the nose picking stopped very quickly.
No more nail biting
As many as 6 in every 10 children and 45% of teens bite their nails. Stress and boredom is one of the main reasons children do it. My daughter Isabella always used to bite her nails as a first grader. I know she was biting her nails because she was so nervous about being in school all day. I had to explain to her that she was playing and getting dirty all day. When she bit her nails, all the germs in her finger nails would go directly to her mouth. Given this warning, she too thought it was gross and the bad habit stopped quickly.
-Tell your children how dirty their hands are.
-Make your child aware of the problem and don’t punish them. Set a goal and give them a small reward when they accomplish it.
-Tell them when their nails grow back you will give them a beautiful manicure.
-Try Anti-biting nail polish. I got some at CVS for around $5. I tried it and it taste really gross.
-Keep their nails trimmed short.
Thumb sucking is a lot like biting nails. But the kids are normally a lot younger and it is harder to help them understand that it is very unhealthy and germy:
-Talk to your child about unhealthy germs on their hands and how they put them in their mouth by thumb sucking.
-Find something else for them to do like playing a memory game, building blocks, or a craft.
-Put a bandage on their thumb.
-Set a goal to help them stop. Plan a date with mom and dad to get some ice cream or go to a movie, buy them a new box of crayons and a note book, or make them their favorite dinner.
Putting mouths or faces on shopping carts
I read on ABC News that shopping cart handles have more germs than public restrooms. EEK!!! They are loaded with more saliva, bacteria and even fecal matter then escalators, public telephones and public bathrooms. Most super markets offer sanitary wipes. Originally only 5% of customers used them; now, their use has expanded to 15-20%.
-If you don’t have a protective seat cover for your children, don’t ever forget to to use the sanitary wipes.
-After you ditch the cart sanitize your hands or wash them as soon as you get home.
Many germs are harmless but the easiest way to protect yourself from the harmful germs is to wash your hands. After you go to the bathroom be a good example and wash your hands. Make sure you teach your children to wash their hands properly after they use the bathroom, play outside, before meal time, and especially if they are sick.
-Wash your hands for 20 seconds or sing the ABC’s.
-Once a week use a disinfect wipe to clean the remotes and key boards.
-Keep a stool in the bathroom to make it easier for your children to reach the sink to wash their hands.
-Supervise them. Help them get into a good hand washing habit so when they are at school or play they can stay healthy.
Other Germy Habits
Picking toenails-Keep socks on their feet or offer a pedicure if they stop.
Sharing-We teach our kids to share but there are some items you don’t want your kids sharing; hats, tooth brushes, cups, forks, or anything you put into your mouth.
Sneezing-One of my favorite commercials is the one where the little boy sneezes and wipes his nose on the man’s sleeve that is standing next to him. His mom looks so embarrassed. It always make me laugh because I could see my girls doing the same thing. Teach your kids to sneeze in their elbow instead of in the air or into their hands.
Every winter I get a little scared about all the illnesses my kids are going to get from school, church, and play dates. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. It prevents against infection from the flu viruses that researchers predict will be most common in the upcoming year. Read more here about the flu vaccine.
The truth is we don’t live in a germ free world and most of the time it’s just not the kids with the bad habits it’s the adults too. The best thing we can do as parents is lead by example and teach our kids healthy habits–a great way to start is by washing your hands and teaching your kids to wash their hands.
What are your quick fixes to help your kids dirty habits?
Ashley was born and raised in Boise, Idaho and now lives in Henderson, Nevada. She studied in Germany and created a hand knit hat business in 1998–Mutze by Ashley (meaning hat in German). She is obsessed with her Husband, three daughters, fashion, coconut desserts, and garden gnomes.