Teaching Children About Germs

When your children were infants, they loved to put everything in their mouths and had no qualms about rubbing their eyes every chance they got. Now that they are older, they may still have some of these same bad habits and may frequently come back from school with nasty colds or stomach viruses. By teaching your children about germs, they can understand better how bacteria and viruses are transferred from person to person and can become better stewards of their own health.

Your first inclination may be to sit down and have a talk with your child. However, most children become quickly bored by lengthy discussions. If they have nothing to look at during the discussion, the words you say are highly unlikely to make their way into your children’s memories. Instead, you need to teach them about germs by using something that sticks out to them and engages their senses.

Utilizing the Tools of Technology

One of the easiest options is to show your children a video about germs. There are plenty of free videos about this subject online today. Plus, nearly all children love watching videos. A video can help get across the message that germs are quite powerful even though they are unseen. To ensure that the message of the video has been made clear to your children, ask them to repeat back to you what they were taught.

While engaging one of the senses through watching a video can be powerful, an even more powerful teaching option is to engage at least two of the senses simultaneously through a demonstration. Find something that your children can not only watch but also test out with their hands. One example is putting glitter on your children’s hands and having them watch how the glitter gets on everything they touch.

As your children hear you talk to them about germs while watching you demonstrate germ transfer and getting to test it out for themselves, these new concepts will make their way more fully into their conscious thoughts. 
Although it will not happen overnight, your children will gradually start making smarter decisions about touching their faces, washing their hands frequently, and practicing good hygiene around others when they are ill. Until then, you do not have to feel bad about continuing to remind your children to cover their mouths when coughing or to keep their hands off their faces.