Teaching children healthy habits used to be more about brushing their teeth, using their manners and picking up their toys. While those things are still essential, nowadays, healthy habits also include washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, and trying to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Here at Children’s Discovery Center, we take the health and wellbeing of every child seriously. That’s why we’ve come up with four tips to help you teach your child healthy habits at home. We believe that by working together, we can create routines that help stop the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne illnesses such as the common cold and flu. By implementing these simple habits at home, you’ll be helping us maintain good hygiene practices at our facilities as well.
1. Be a good example.
Kids love to imitate their parents and teachers. And whether we like it or not, they exemplify our behaviors. Be sure to set a good example for them and get them involved in practicing healthy habits.
One way to get your children on board is to allow them to have their own child-safe sanitizing wipes to help you clean toys and counters. Have a designated time every evening to wipe down surfaces such as doorknobs and television remotes.
Take the time to show your children how to wash their hands properly, as recommended by state guidelines, and how to cover their coughs and sneezes to prevent the spread of germs. Here is a short, instructional video you can watch with your child to help teach this important habit.
2. Include a song or rhyme.
Back in the 90s, the purple dinosaur, Barney, led the way with the “clean up” song, getting kids everywhere to “clean up, clean up.” The reason it worked so well was because kids naturally respond to music and rhyme. They enjoy learning catchy songs or chants that relate to everyday activities.
Try coming up with your own family song or chant to encourage your children to practice healthy habits. Soon, they will be eager to sing along while implementing the very habits you’re trying to teach them.
For more ideas, check out this fun post called 5 Hand Washing Songs Your Preschooler Will Love.
3. Set up a reward system.
Simple reward systems are both fun and encouraging to children of all ages. Sticker charts and prize boxes are great incentives for kids to practice healthy habits on a daily basis. Try hanging a dry-erase board near the bathroom sink and encourage them to draw a star every time they remember to wash their hands. Ten stars equals one trip to the prize box!
Here are more fun ideas for reward charts that are both simple and easy to make.
4. Make it routine.
It’s been said that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. For some children, they will catch on quickly. For others, it might take a little longer. However, when you make healthy habits a regular part of daily life, your children will eventually catch on and embrace those habits as routine.
At Children’s Discovery Center, we focus on learning exercises that include child-led, interactive experiences. Our program encourages healthy habits by instilling gentle repetition and familiar routines to ensure every child learns at their own pace.
Together, parents and staff can lead by example, create fun and rewarding systems, and make healthy habits a regular part of life. Hopefully, this teamwork will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne illnesses, ensuring we have a healthy season moving forward.