• By Jason Howland

Mayo Clinic Minute: Why parents need to teach their kids about hand hygiene

May 5, 2019

One of the easiest ways to help children stay healthy in the classroom begins at home. Studies have shown that illnesses and absenteeism in schools go down when kids are taught to wash their hands often. Just 20 seconds of scrubbing with soap and warm water can help kill germs that spread disease.

Watch: Mayo Clinic Minute

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"If you’re talking about weapons of mass destruction at home, you're talking about the hands," says Dr. Robert Jacobson, a Mayo Clinic pediatrician.

Fighting the war on germs starts with teaching kids good hand hygiene while they are young. Dr. Jacobson asks parents to lead by example and to be demonstrative in their efforts. For instance, …

"… It's time to get breakfast ready. The parent says out loud, 'I'm going to wash my hands with soap and water before I reach into the refrigerator to get your food.'"

Many illnesses are spread by unwashed hands. Teaching kids how to properly clean their hands will help them remain healthy. Show your children how to wash their hands with warm soapy water throughout the day including before they eat and after using the bathroom.

"Children really do need to get in a habit about hand-washing, and they'll do it when they have examples at home," says Dr. Jacobson.

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