7 Simple steps to recruit your kids in the fight against the flu

Feb 2, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. ET
Image: Blend Images - JGI/Jamie Grill/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

With flu season in full swing, it's important to teach your kids healthy habits and recruit them in the fight to keep them healthy. Here are seven simple tips to keep everyone healthy this year. 

1. Explain the germ

The first step is to explain to kids that sickness is spread by germs, microscopic organisms you can't actually see but can make you sick if they get into your body. When they're little, you can describe them as little "bugs" that get into your body — provided you don't think that might freak them out. As they get older, you can explain that there are "good" germs, like probiotics that keep you healthy, and "bad" ones, like the flu virus that make you sick. There are plenty of resources and lesson plans to help you talk to your kids about germs.

2. Tell them about transferring germs

Next, explain to kids how germs — those pesky little bugs — get into their bodies and make them sick in the first place. Let them know that dirty hands put near your eyes, nose or mouth can transfer dirty little germs to your body and make you sick. So after school, riding the bus, playing with the dog or on the playground, explain you should never touch those spots without first washing your hands thoroughly.

More: Everything you need to know about sick child care

3. Make hand-washing fun

You can't kill germs just by running your hands under the water for a hot sec, so teach your kids how to wash their hands the right way. Have them sing a song to make sure they're washing long enough and teach them to really move that soap around those dirty little paws. Practice at the sink, with hand lotion and, when soap and water isn't available, use a hand sanitizer.

4. Let others know when they're sick

It can be hard for little kids to recognize that they're sick, much less tell a teacher or parent that they're feeling bad. Most of the time, it's up to the parent to recognize when their kid is "off." Helping your child recognize when they're sick and letting a teacher or caregiver know will not only help them get taken care of, but it will get them — and their germs — away from everyone else and stop the spread of illness.

More: 6 Ways not to catch your kid's cold

5. Cover that cough

It's one of the first things they teach in kindergarten — cover that cough! Model the right behaviors and cough into your elbow or sleeve and teach your little ones to do the same. There are all kinds of fun videos and "cover your cough" songs to help make it a fun activity. It's also important to remind kiddos to toss that tissue they just used to cough or to blow into right into the trash, since those can spread germs, too.

6. Healthy eating and sleeping

Part of keeping germs away is a strong body and immune system. Teach kids to eat plenty of healthy fruits and veggies and get lots of rest to keep their bodies in tip-top shape to fight off illness. Let them help pick out the foods that will make them the most flu-resistant.

More: Need to know hand-washing facts

7. Disinfect, don't just clean

Disinfecting your home regularly is the only way to effectively kill germs. According to the CDC, disinfecting, rather than just cleaning or sanitizing, is the only way to actually kill all the germs lurking around your house. To make disinfecting as convenient as possible, use a product like Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. Let your kids help out by making it a game to see who can find the most spots likely to harbor germs.

Here's a great video from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital that helps teach kids all about germs and staying healthy.


This post was sponsored by Clorox. All stories and opinions are that of the author.