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How to Teach Your Child to Wash Their Hands

Handwashing is a very important skill for both children and adults. Many parents wonder, “How can I get my child to wash their hands correctly?” or “How can I explain the importance of handwashing to my child?”

The importance of handwashing is sometimes lost on children. Germs include viruses, bacteria and other infectious agents, some of which can make us sick and others which don’t make us sick.

How to Explain Germs to Your Child:

  • Germs are everywhere on most things and people.
  • You can’t see germs.
  • We know that germs are there because scientists can use a microscope  to see them.
  • Most of the germs won’t hurt you but some can make you sick.
  • Washing your hands is one of the best ways to keep from getting sick.
  • The way germs get into our body is usually through our mouth or nose or eyes.
  • Usually, germs get into our body because we get germs on our hands and then touch our mouth, nose or eyes.
  • Germs can also get into our body if someone sneezes or coughs near us.

  • Anytime someone’s germs are sprayed out by coughing or sneezing, the germs are in the air for a few minutes and that means you could breathe them in.
  • Once germs get into our body that way, they will multiply and can make us feel bad and sick.
  • They can give us a stomachache, a runny nose, a cough, chills, or a fever.
  • Usually, we can get better in a week or two weeks. But it’s better if we don’t ever get sick, so we can avoid feeling bad!

How to Explain Handwashing to Your Child:

  • Washing your hands is very important.
  • Washing your hands can keep you healthy.
  • Washing your hands also keeps your family healthy, because sometimes you can be sick and give that sick feeling to your family too. Sometimes, your family may feel even more sick when they get it.
  • To wash your hands, you will need soap and water.

The CDC is a place that tells us how to keep from being sick, and this is how they say to wash our hands:

  • 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. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
  • To remember how long to wash your hands for, keep rubbing them together while singing the ABC song. You could also count slowly to 20.

A video from the World Health Organization shows how to do a very good job washing your hands:


Some children may need step by step guidance on handwashing. Our team of experienced ABA therapists is able to create an individualized plan for teaching handwashing steps as a part of the ABA program goals. Acuity Behavior Solutions staff can also review additional ways you can help to ensure your child makes improvements through ABA therapy. If you have any questions about starting ABA, please feel free to give us a call at (714) 696-2862