As we encounter the global pandemic of COVID-19, the importance of personal hygiene has come to the forefront. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), hygiene plays an extremely vital role in protecting us from this infectious disease. COVID-19 is caused by a new virus which causes respiratory illness with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing. It spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. This is the reason why parents should instill the habit of hand-washing and hygiene in children.
When we maintain cleanliness, we give our immune system a fighting chance to protect us from disease causing bacteria, viruses and toxins, and remove foreign bodies and malignant cells from our system. The immune system which is not fully developed at birth matures in the early years of life. Therefore, this can be considered as the ideal time to train children and share awareness regarding the immune system, and its functions with respect to personal hygiene.
Teach proper hand washing
The most important habit that you can teach your child is to wash his or her hands, first thing after returning from school or playing outside and before eating. The simple process of hand washing is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to prevent spreading of germs and illnesses.
Lead by example
As children often learn through imitation, make sure that you are following all the right practices within the confines of your home which is the first school for the child. It is only by watching and observing you that children tend to develop their own habits, and understanding of what is important. So please adopt the habit of hand-washing before you can teach your child.
Make learning fun
Maybe you can attach a story, a song or a poem that extols the virtues of hand-washing. Often, children lose interest and are easily bored. Therefore, in order to inculcate certain practices in them, you need to turn the lessons into a fun game, or an interesting activity which can grab their attention and help pass on the habit to them. Teach them the lessons in a gentle and loving manner without causing a sense of fear.
Show and tell
Explain the process of handwashing by demonstrating it to them. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. You can also include the importance of conserving water, and teach them to turn off the taps whenever not in use etc. You can even create a chart showing the different steps, and hang it by the washing sink.
Step 1: Wet Hands. Wet your hands and apply enough liquid soap to create a good lather.
Step 2: Rub palms together
Step 3: Rub the back of hands
Step 4: Interlink your fingers
Step 5: Cup your fingers
Step 6: Clean the thumbs
Step 7: Rub palms with your fingers
Practice hygiene as a family
When we can all implement these positive and healthy habits in our lives we are sure to make a powerful impact. Teach your child to cover his or her mouth before they sneeze and cough. Show your children how they should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or a handkerchief when he sneezes or coughs.
One of the main benefits of good hygiene is that we get to enjoy better health. By teaching your children the importance of good personal hygiene, and clean habits from a young age you can help them stay protected against illnesses, and frequently falling sick. It is crucial that children learn that by keeping the body, we can stay away from infection caused by bacteria or viruses.
(The writer is lifestyle coach and grand master, founder & chairman, Akshar Yoga.)
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