How to be a Health Ninja: Avoiding Colds and Flu with Healthy Habits

describe the imageCold and flu season is beginning.  While that’s always a stressful season for parents, especially when it is their child’s first year in childcare, it can be comforting to remember that illness is another part of life and kids usually recover in a day or two.   With over 200 cold viruses and flu strains that change every year  and are EVERYWHERE; school, church, the grocery store, and other people’s homes staying healthy can feel impossible.

You can follow the 3 C’s

  • Clean – Wash your hands frequently.
  • Cover  – Cover your mouth whenever you cough or sneeze.
  • Contain – Stay at home if you are sick to prevent the spread of germs.

The best way to follow the 3 C’s is to make them a regular part of your daily routine.

When teaching healthy habits, focus on what’s important. You probably don’t need to lecture toddlers on the germ theory of disease. Concepts like contagion are probably too hard to grasp for little kids.

So instead of explaining, the key is to practice and ritualize some good behaviors. After a while they will be routine and the kids will follow them without thinking

Hand Washing

When it comes to healthy habits for kids, hand washing is the most important one. To make it work, it’s got to be built into their daily routines.

“Parents should make hand washing a ritual, like brushing their teeth,” says Jana. You don’t have to do it so obsessively that their hands get chapped. But you should always have your kids wash their hands:

  •                     When they arrive at day care or preschool
  •                     Before they eat
  •                     After changes or after using the potty or toilet
  •                     After a play date
  •                     As soon as they come in the house — whether it’s from      school or from playing in the yard

It’s also important to do hand washing well. Always use warm water and soap. The CDC recommends that people wash their hands for the amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice — about 15 to 20 seconds.

If soap and water aren’t available, an alcohol-based gel will work too. Just make sure that your kids really scrub their hands for about 20 seconds. They’re done when the gel has completely evaporated.

Tricks to promote great handwashing;

  • Have them do dishes. Lots of toddlers and preschool age kids love playing in the sink. So instead of getting into a struggle about hand washing, just stand them on a chair by the sink, give them the soap and a dish to wash. If they keep at it for a few minutes, they’ll probably get their hands pretty clean.
  • Choose the right soap. A bar of white soap can seem pretty dull. But if you can find a soap that catches their attention — with a fruity smell, or maybe a cartoon character on the bottle — you might have better luck with hand washing. To add to the mystique, you could make the soap especially for your child’s use. Keep it on a high shelf and take it down only when she needs it.

After hand washing there a few other things you can do:

Cough into the arm. Many of us were told as kids to cover our mouths with our hands when we coughed or sneezed. The problem with that old advice is that it results in a handful of germs — which are then spread on everything a kid touches.

Experts now recommend that kids — and adults — cough and sneeze into the crook of their arms. That way, the germs are less likely to wind up coating every surface in the room. 

Use tissues. It won’t always work, but you can try.”Some preschool kids are capable of blowing their noses,” says Altmann. “Whether the tissue ends up in the trash can or on the floor is another story, of course.”

Teach by example. As any parent knows, trying to get a toddler to do something can be maddening. Asking, or demanding, or begging your kid to adopt healthy habits might seem hopeless.

The best strategy is to  model good behavior.  Make a show of hand washing when you get home from work — and do it for the full 20 seconds. Always cough and sneeze into your own arm. Your kids will probably notice, and over time it could really have the desired effect.


Thomas Learning Centers provides NECPA accredited preschool and childcare at the most affordable rates in the Denver Metro Area.  Check us out at , click on the offers below, drop in for a visit to get to know more about us. We’d love to meet you!

Call  877-938-1442 for general info

Lakewood 303-237-0917 or Westminster 303-427-8831


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: